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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thucydides and 58 priests

the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must

So Thucydides had the Athenians (the strong) say to the Melians (the weak) in his History of the Peloponnesian War.

I was reminded of this today when I saw a post at Bilgrimage mentioning Cardinal Bernard Law's 80th birthday party (in the news - Clerics live it up in Vatican for Law’s 80th).

A little about Law from Wikipedia ...

Cardinal Law became the first individual shown to have actively participated in the cover-up of child molestation. Despite substantial amounts of documentation that demonstrated his deep involvement with covering up the molestation of thousands of children, Law refused to step down as Archbishop of Boston. After he left Boston, there remained a significant number of undisclosed priests in the Boston area who confessed to molesting boys, and who continue to work as priests. Some have criticized Law for perpetuating this situation by declining to disclose the names of priests accused of sexual abuse during his tenure as Archbishop. The Archdiocese closed sixty-five parishes before Cardinal Law stepped down from service .... In May 2004, John Paul II appointed Law to a post in Rome, putting him in charge of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, with the title of Archpriest.

In reference to Law stepping down, I recently saw mention of a document signed by 58 priests that helped bring this to pass ....

58 Priests Ask Boston Cardinal to Step Down in Abuse Scandal

In a display of defiance, 58 priests from the Boston Archdiocese have sent a letter to Cardinal Bernard Law, demanding that he resign.

"While this is obviously a difficult request, we believe in our hearts that this is a necessary step that must be taken if healing is to come to the archdiocese," the letter stated. "The priests and people of Boston have lost confidence in you as their spiritual leader."

The three-paragraph letter was hand-delivered late Monday to Law's mansion in Brighton, where the nation's fourth-largest archdiocese has its headquarters. Law is in Rome, holding meetings at the Vatican about the clerical sexual abuse crisis roiling the church in Boston and around the country.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna M. Morrissey said Tuesday that she could not say whether Law had read the letter, but added that "a letter between brother priests and their bishop would be reviewed carefully."

Stephen Pope, chair of the theology department at Boston College, called the priests' letter "as close to rebellion as you can get."

"This is something they never do," he added. "Even for one priest to speak up against a bishop is unheard of, but to have so many."


The intensity of the nearly yearlong clerical abuse crisis escalated in Boston in the last week as a flood of once-confidential church documents described abuses by priests ranging from rape to drug use to fathering children with married women.

Files released late Monday contained a notation that one priest, Father William Scanlan, "fools around with kids." Scanlan was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in his parish in 1997, but no criminal charges were filed. He was most recently assigned to work in San Jose, but his current whereabouts are unknown.

Public outrage also mounted as financial advisors authorized the archdiocese to file for bankruptcy rather than settle close to 500 lawsuits brought by sexual abuse victims.

That development, combined with the other problems, prompted almost 10% of Boston's active-duty priests to take the bold step of calling for their cardinal to step down .....

So much angst and effort expended to get Law to step down and he goes on to a promotion in Rome. I don't understand how the Vatican and the pope don't get what this kind of thing says about the church. Maybe they do get it but they just don't care ... the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.


Blogger Daniel said...

Your probably familiar with her writing, but Ralph Wood in his book "Flannery O'connor and the Christ Haunted South," offers this bit of insight that may be helpful: "It was a religious, a cultural abyss, a moral nothingness that O’Connor sniffed as surely as Nietzsche did when, a century earlier, he declared that he could detect the odor of God’s rotting body in his nostrils. Like Nietzsche, O’Connor located the evil not in some remote ethereal realm, not in her circumambient culture alone, but also in the “one holy catholic and apostolic church.” She confessed that the church’s feeble and often noxious witness causes Christians as much grief as does the world’s mad plunge over the cliffs of self-destruction. …Unlike Nietzsche, O’Connor agreed with [Romano] Guardini that the church contains the one Solution even as it constitutes a terrible part of the problem. …Hence the frequent likening of the church to Noah’s ark: only the storm without exceeds the stench within. Yet insofar as Christ remains its animating center, the church provides everlasting life amidst the all-encompassing death." after a lifetime of that stench one sometimes wonders whether the storm is not the better choice...obliged, Daniel.

9:56 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the comment. I've actually never yet read Flannery O'connor, so it's interesting to find she felt that way. Must look for some of her books.

11:46 PM  

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