Over at her blog, Simcha Fisher is venting a bit on the silence of the bishops:
I’ve talked to some laymen who have written to their pastors or to their bishops in the last few days, and these men are surprised to hear that the laity is so upset. Surprised! They are still so insulated, so separated from a normal human response to suffering, so utterly surrounded by like-minded peers dedicated to the cause of not rocking the boat, that they apparently think, “Well, the USCCB has put out a statement. Phew, now we can move on.”
I think a lot of people are feeling like Simcha, so it’s important to note those bishops who are speaking up and calling for more (and timely) action by the USCCB — something much more than “new policies and procedures”. Bishop Ed Scharfenberger of Albany, put out a strong and welcome statement in which he calls for transparency and the need for outside commissions that include layfolk to look into unholy mess. Making similar calls are Anchorage’s Archbishop Paul Etienne, Jefferson City’s Bishop Shawn McKnight, Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen, and Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia.
Today Los Angeles’ Bishop Robert Barron is (to my knowledge) the first auxiliary bishop to speak up, and he takes it a step further, or perhaps I should say makes it a bit clearer:
Only the Pope has juridical and disciplinary powers in regard to bishops. Hence, I would suggest (as a lowly back-bencher auxiliary) that the bishops of the United States—all of us—petition the Holy Father to form a team, made up mostly of faithful lay Catholics skilled in forensic investigation, and to empower them to have access to all of the relevant documentation and financial records. Their task should be to determine how Archbishop McCarrick managed, despite his widespread reputation for iniquity, to rise through the ranks of the hierarchy and to continue, in his retirement years, to function as a roving ambassador for the Church and to have a disproportionate influence on the appointment of bishops. They should ask the ecclesial version of Sen. Howard Baker’s famous questions: “What did the responsible parties know and when did they know it?” Only after these matters are settled will we know what the next steps ought to be.
Yep, yeppity yep, says I.
I’ve been writing about this issue almost exclusively for a couple of weeks, and have several times suggested how important it is that, as we pursue truth and justice in these matters, we leave our specific agendas, and passions, and hobby horses aside, so that our focus is not scattered. I don’t think there has been a single bishop statement yet whose comments have not been greeted with “Yeah, well, what about this? What about that? What about this other thing?”
I totally get it — we have a lot of issues that are going to need examination, rethought and redress in the coming years and decades — but it’s not really fair to expect any one statement or article by any bishop (or any writer, for that matter) to cover every matter.
We none of us can (or should) be satisfied with any statement until real action gets put behind the words, but let’s at least acknowledge that it will take books — many of them — to sufficiently “address all of the things”, and so any 1000-word statement will be “lacking.”
This is going to be a long process, and none of it will be easy for any of us, especially not for the victims of abuse or for the good priests tarnished by all of this.