Anyone who paid the least attention to the 2002-03 chapter of the running (25 years and counting) Catholic sexual abuse crisis knows that the easy part for the Church’s powers-that-be was the “protect the kids from now on” part. The hard part was calling to account the parties responsible for what actually upset people the most: the cover-up. Because, of course, those parties were, well, the powers-that-be. The hard part began and ended with the fly-away to Rome of Boston Cardinal Bernard Law.
In the current chapter, “Bringing It Home to Rome,” we’re still pretty much at the easy part. New norms have been promulgated explicitly requiring cases of abuse to be reported to the civil authorities (wow). Apologies for abuse have been made, and there’s been a papal meet-and-greet with a few victims. Yes, an Irish bishop or two has had his resignation accepted, and there may be more to come. And today comes word that a prominent German bishop has offered to resign. But accountability at the top has not exactly taken hold.
The more typical response has been the circling of the prelatial wagons, with the pope sending out the likes of Cardinal Sodano to defend his honor, while thanking a luncheon gathering of red hats for their support. For sure, that “wounded and sinner” church is out there in the world, not here in Vatican City.
Yesterday, however, the traditionalist Paulus Institute announced that it had withdrawn its invitation to Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos to celebrate a big Latin mass at the Basilica in Washington Saturday. Castrillón Hoyos became persona non grata last week after it was revealed that he had written a letter congratulating a French bishop for going to jail rather than turn in one of his priests charged with sexual abuse.
What the Curial Elite have to learn is that with the exception of condottieri like the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, even the most ultramontane layfolk choke at having to defend abuse enablers in high places. Unfortunately, the Curial Elite are slow learners.