Friday, June 09, 2006
Whispering Through the Halo
This exchange was notable from day two, possibly timely given the recent upheaval in my parish:
BH: You talk to a lot of priests through your work. What is your sense of their morale since the sex abuse crisis?
RP: It’s not pretty. The church in Italy will be there forever and nothing will ever change, but in America because of the abuse crisis, the relationship between priests and bishops is a shell of what it once was. It wasn’t even good before 2002 in many cases, but priests don’t trust bishops, and a lot of priests feel a lot of guys have been hung out to dry in the investigation of cases. They feel that the priority in a lot of cases is not being just and fair but just to get the best PR result, “OK, an allegation comes in – Gone.” The preference of canon law and emphasis is always on the rights of the accused. One old priest, a great man, once said that on the day a priest becomes a bishop, he leaves the priesthood. And there a lot of guys out there who, sad to say, have seen that and learned it the hard way.
I've seen more the deterioration of the laity-bishop relationships. That's what most of the blogs are about. Bishop Finn gets the extremes of bad press and fawning adoration, but our outgoing pastor reiterated in print and with the staff that he has been more than supportive of him as a priest during his discernment. A good sign of hope, perhaps. We need more bishops like that. If they can't win the trust of the presbyterate, they have little hope for more than a sliver of the laity in their dioceses.