Bishop Accountability.Org/ “What Went Wrong?” – From 2003

Petra Articles about the Sex Crisis, Articles on Sex Abuse of Minors, Articles on Sex Abuse of Seminarians, Laity Response, Reform Leave a Comment

What Went Wrong?

By Paul Mankowski, S.J. [United States] Downloaded March 30, 2004

An Address to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy – July 15, 2003

What went wrong, and why?

Everyone in the room will rightly understand the question to refer to The Crisis, the daily revelation over the past eighteen months of numberless instances of priestly turpitude, episcopal mendacity, and the resultant bewilderment and fury of the laity.

My own take on the problem, which I offer for your consideration, is that the Crisis is chiefly surprising in how unsurprising it is.

No one who has been fighting the culture wars within the Church over the past twenty years can fail to recognize his own struggles with a hostile bureaucracy and conflicted hierarchy in the struggles of those pleading for relief from sexual abuse — notwithstanding the disparity in the attendant journalistic drama.

In fact, I’d contend that the single important difference in the Church’s failure regarding abusive clergy and the failures regarding liturgy, catechesis, pro-life politics, doctrinal dissent and biblical translation is this: that in the case of the sex abuse scandal we’ve been allowed a look over the bishops’ shoulders at their own memos.

Deviant sexual assault has accomplished what liturgical abuse never could: it has generated secular media pressure and secular legal constraints so overwhelming that the apparat was forced to make its files public.

What we read in those files was shocking, true, but to most of us, I suspect, it was shocking in its sense of daja vu.

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