I wonder some times about the Vatican’s public relations skills. Don’t they have a PR wing? And wouldn’t someone in the PR department say, “Um, guys. I understand that you want to clarify what The Church considers ‘grave crimes’. But if you release this document about new guidelines regarding sex abuse, and you mention in the very same document that the ordination of women is now also a ‘grave crime’, people in the United States (and other Western nations) are going to hit the roof. Because it looks like you are equating the ordination of women with ruining the life of a child, and that’s going to go over like a lead balloon. Feel me?”
The Vatican’s response, that the sexual abuse of minors is a “moral” crime and the ordination of women is a “sacramental” crime, sounds to the laity like mere semantics. Gah! Who the hell is running the marketing department over there?
In all seriousness, I’m pretty much in agreement with the critics that say the new guidelines on sex abuse don’t go quite far enough. I mean, would it be so hard to say, “If you know of sexual abuse of minors, go to your superiors AND to the police. Not only is it a moral crime, but it is a civil and criminal crime [okay, that’s redundant]. It’s your duty to report it.
“And, oh yeah, as to you superiors, if you try to cover it up, and simply remove a priest from his position, you’re going to be in trouble with the law, too. Not just doctrinal law, either. And if you defrock him, and set him loose on an unsuspecting public, there’s going to be Hell to pay. Literally.
“Finally, we’re going to throw the lot of you out on your butts if these grave crimes continue.”
According to the article in the New York Times about the release of the guidelines, “In April, the Vatican for the first time published online guidelines that it said it advised bishops to follow in handling abuse, including reporting all sexual abuse cases to the Vatican and to civil authorities in countries that required mandatory reporting of crimes. [emphasis mine] But those guidelines do not hold the force of law…. The new document did not change that. ‘It’s not for canonical legislation to get itself involved with civil law,’ Monsignor Scicluna said.” Now that sounds suspiciously like, “We don’t have to tell the civil authorities about bad stuff our guys do if we don’t want to.” Which simply smacks of arrogance.
Hey, pride goeth before a fall. So we’ll see where that gets ’em.
Despite the continued conservative bull-headedness of The Vatican, I will still continue to practice my Catholic faith. Not with the blind hope that they will change the law about ordaining women. I don’t go to church because I’m hoping women will be priests some day.
I’ll talk about this more in future posts, but here’s the thing. I am not exaggerating when I tell you:
My faith in God and in Jesus the Son of God, and the power of prayer, saved my life.
So the secular world (or as it keeps being labeled in the media, the “secular West”) and the Vatican can keep squabbling over doctrinal law. My faith isn’t in the Pope. My faith isn’t in the law of man, either, frankly.
I prayed, and God heard me, and answered my prayers. And I can’t turn away from that.
(At the same time, of course, I have to do more. So I’m going to read this book, and maybe get some ideas about how to help those bullheaded conservatives see the light. Thanks to @SecretAgentL for the recommendation.)