For archbishop’s camp, the church is the hierarchy

Miracles do happen. Who would have believed anyone could topple Irish Catholicism? But masses of Irish Catholics no longer attend church, and those who do have lost confidence in their priests and bishops. The Irish people are finally disengaging the church from its control of education, social services, and public morality.

What brutal British occupiers could not accomplish over centuries, Ireland’s bishops and their Vatican masters have brought about in little more than a decade.

Now those who run the Catholic Church have jeopardized another legendary center of Catholic solidarity: Philadelphia.

Cardinal Justin Rigali is retiring as Philadelphia’s archbishop, disgraced by a second grand jury report documenting the hierarchy’s cover-up of sexual abuse by priests. It was announced last week that his successor will be Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, one of America’s most outspoken Catholic conservatives. The appointment shows that the Vatican accepts the strange idea that the church’s problems in this country have come about because Catholics are too American – too tainted by America’s “culture of death” – and because U.S. bishops and priests are too sensitive to what lay people and non-Catholics think.

What is needed, the Vatican seems to believe, are leaders who “put the church first,” assert the authority of bishops and priests, and make no pastoral or political concessions on supposedly nonnegotiable Catholic teachings about abortion, homosexuality, and female priests. [more]


Philadelphia Inquirer