Or call it ecclesiastical leadership versus the defensive crouch. In his Palm Sunday sermon, the Archbishop of Dublin, who has been the true stand-up guy in the Irish scandal, had this to say:
The Church in Dublin is still stung by the horrible abuse which innocent
children endured through people who were Christ’s ministers and who
were called to act in Christ’s name. How was it that the innocence of
children was not embraced; how did it happen that in our Church the
temptation to protect institution was given priority over healing the
most innocent and the vulnerable.
Now contrast Martin’s simple acknowledgment that the central issue is cover-up with the overwrought refusal of the Archbishop of New York to go there:
The recent tidal wave of headlines about abuse of minors by some few
priests, this time in Ireland, Germany, and a re-run of an old story
from Wisconsin, has knocked us to our knees once again.
this horror, vicious sin, and nauseating crime is reported, as it needs
to be, victims and their families are wounded again, the vast majority
of faithful priests bow their heads in shame anew, and sincere Catholics
experience another dose of shock, sorrow, and even anger.
deepens the sadness now is the unrelenting insinuations against the Holy
Father himself, as certain sources seem frenzied to implicate the man
who, perhaps more than anyone else has been the leader in purification,
reform, and renewal that the Church so needs.
Cover-up? For Dolan, this is only about the physical abuse, the media, the small number of abusing priests, the “re-wounding” of the victims, the unjustified attacks on the pope. As Ross Douthat, no wild-eyed Church-basher, writes in today’s NYT.
But the crisis of authority endures. There has been some
accountability for the abusers, but not nearly enough for the bishops
who enabled them. And now the shadow of past sins threatens to engulf
Popes do not resign. But a pope can clean house. And
a pope can show contrition, on his own behalf and on behalf of an
entire generation of bishops, for what was done and left undone in one
of Catholicism’s darkest eras.
This is Holy Week, when the first
pope, Peter, broke faith with Christ and wept for shame. There is no
better time for repentance.
One presumes Archbishop Dolan will have perused these words with his morning coffee. One hopes he takes them to heart.