Morning spit-take, Day 2: Cardinal Dolan pats bishops on back for “good work” on sex abuse

Yes, he did. After listening to an address by the current chair of the National Lay Review Board, Al J. Norton, exhorting the bishops to stick to the requirements imposed by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Dolan thanked him for "challenging us to keep up the good work." I'm sure Dolan was thinking of the excellent examples of Justin Rigali, Francis George, and Robert Finn, among others, sitting in the assembly before him. (You can review our special section on the sex abuse crisis, along with our June feature about the success and failures of lay review boards for a more accurate account of the past 10 years.)

Spare me: Patting the bishops on the back for following the charter is like thanking your landlord for installing smoke detectors after your apartment building burns down. The bishops as a body deserve little credit for responding at least 10 years too late when the combination of public and financial pressure finally forced them to respond to the crisis of clerical sexual abuse. Even then the bishops gave themselves the equivalent of a free pass.

Of course, Dolan is simply continuing the march toward an Orwellian echo chamber at the USCCB, where the bishops hear only themselves and few handpicked laypeople about the condition of the church. Further sign of 1984, Catholic Church edition, was the objection raised by some bishops when Bishop Stephen Blair of Stockton, California suggested an election year message on poverty. Several bishops worried about appearing to criticize the GOP in an election year–wouldn't want that–so the bishops have decided to draft a message for release AFTER the November elections (see the link above, end of the story). 

No joke. Are you starting to see a pattern? I think my worries about John Carr's departure from the conference are well-founded, and the USCCB gathering can now be properly referred to as the Republican Party at prayer. Perhaps they can invite Rep. Paul Ryan to give the invocation. I hear he is Catholic.

About the author

Bryan Cones

Bryan Cones is a writer living in Chicago.