"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Sex Abuse and Episcopal and Papal Cover-Up: What to Do?

As a Canadian (as well, of course, as a man of heroic modesty and saintly humility) I am constitutionally averse to promoting my own work, but if there is any moment where it might be helpful to people, now is it. 

The McCarrick report came out of Rome this week. I have been interviewed about it already and asked to write about it. The first article came out this morning in the Catholic Herald. More will follow, there and likely elsewhere. 

The question I have already been asked by editors is this: what can be done about the catastrophically broken system of governance and episcopal appointment in the Church? 

My answers are the same as those I began giving more than a decade ago: the closed system of papal appointment and promotion must be destroyed. Not tinkered with, moderately reformed, mildly changed, slightly altered: destroyed. Blown up. Annihilated. Cremated, and its ashes fired out of a space cannon to the dark side of Saturn or Jupiter.  

That system, people must come to learn, is a total novelty anyway, scarcely a century old. The idea that it is some longstanding part of sacred and holy Tradition is a pernicious fantasy that must itself now die. Only with the 1917 code of canon law is the claim--the novel and wicked claim--made that the pope of Rome has the right to appoint all the world's bishops. That claim is so staggering, so modernist, so untraditional, so without theological justification, that the eminent historian Eamon Duffy has rightly called it a coup d'Eglise. 

What must also die is the even worse fantasy that the current system is somehow required by the claims of Vatican I (repeated verbatim at Vatican II) that "universal jurisdiction" of the pope of Rome requires him to appoint bishops universally. That is nonsense, and the easiest proof of that is the existence of the Eastern Catholic Churches, most of whose bishops are not in fact appointed by the pope but elected by their own synods. So the current system is neither required nor any longer defensible. Indeed, it is a millstone around the neck of the Church: either we kill it or it will continue to kill us all. 

What might or should replace it? Synodal election is the best system to my mind. I argued this out in some detail in my Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power, published early last year. Have a look and let me know if you can think of a better way forward. 

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