Whose Catholic Church is this?

For 72 hours, from Monday, November 12, 2018, through Wednesday, November 14th, (Arch)bishops from all over the United States gathered in Baltimore, Maryland for their Fall General Assembly (FGA).  For many of us practicing lay Catholics, all we wanted to learn from their meeting was their solution to resolving the clergy abuse cases and their cover-up by bishops.  So what happened at this meeting?

Well, if one looks at the FGA’s three-day agenda, one would see that it was not until the afternoon of the second day that 3 1/2 hours was allocated to discuss the Clergy abuse. Three topics were discussed:  (1) The Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, chaired by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR talked about the Standards of Accountability for Bishops; (2) The Executive Committee led by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron discussed the proposal to establish a Special Commission for Review of Complaints Against Bishops for Violations of the Standards of Accountability for Bishops; (3) The Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance led by Bishop Robert P. Deeley shared their thoughts about the Protocols Regarding Restrictions on Bishops who were Removed from or Resigned their Office due to Sexual Abuse of Minors, Sexual Harassment of or Misconduct with Adults, or Grave Negligence in Office.  

As insightful as the three above topics are, there was no mention of what steps will be taken to ensure all bishops release the names of their accused colleagues. The only good that came out of this as far as I am concerned was the Vatican’s intervention to delay approving any element of their proposals to strength the USCCB’s policies on clergy sex abuse.  Mark Pattison of Catholic News Service reported that the Vatican asked for the delay “until they can be reviewed for their conformity to canon law and until after the February meeting at the Vatican for presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide.”

Pattison reported that CNS obtained a document listing the seven standards currently in place with the USCCB that includes an acknowledgment statement all bishops must sign:

There are seven standards, which deal with: diocesan and eparchial codes of conduct; protection of children and young people; sexual misconduct with an adult by a bishop; sexual harassment of an adult by a bishop; responding to allegations of sexual abuse of minors, or of sexual misconduct with or harassment of adults by priests or deacons; reporting and resolving complaints against bishops; and further commitments to ensure integrity.

CNS also published a photo of the FGA, and two faces stand out: Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordeleone.  Levada and Cordileone are both Pope Benedicts’ appointees and god knows what else.  Cordileone has yet to publish the name of priests and bishops accused of abuse and cover-ups.  Gee, I wonder why?  Both of these supposed servants of the flock should be defrocked because they believe we lay Catholics are here to serve them.  All I can say, judgment day is waiting and it won’t be when both are facing their maker in heaven but their leader here on earth.

This segregation of power points to a problem within the Catholic Church, and that is ownership.  The USCCB thinks they own the Church in America, and we lay Catholics are to serve them.

As a layperson, I have studied many different types of leadership styles; from democratic to transformational, from bureaucratic to autocratic, but the one that I employ is Servant leadership.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says to his disciples, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.”  Perhaps the bishops should have had a session on this Gospel quote from Mt. 20:28.


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