Theologians, lay leaders call
For mass resignations of US bishops
,By Heidi Schlumpf, in NCR, Aug 17, 2018
‘No genuine … healing and reform can begin’ without a demonstration of repentance’, statement says
A woman holds a sign in protest during Mass July 25 at the cathedral in Santiago. Chile’s bishops resigned en mass in May after revelations of sexual abuse and corruption. A group of U.S. theologians and lay leaders are calling for the same public act of penance from U.S. bishops. (CNS/Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)
Note: Ever since Pope Francis started his Chile investigation last January and ended in the mass resignation of all 34 there, CCV has been suggesting that a similar cleansing of the Temple Jesus did was urgently needed in India.
The Chile example has at last opened the eyes of 3000 theologians, educators and lay leaders have called for all US, to call for a similar resignation in US. Nay more, it has prompted several prominent US bishops to speak out publicly and act.
Bishops to watch bishops
After the sex abuse by the once prominent Cardinal of Washington was proved and punished, and in its wake, many high ranking bishops suggested the need of setting up a committee of bishops themselves to oversee the cover-ups done by other bishops and report to Rome.
The reason suggested was that several years of Pedophilias by priests from 2000 has drastically brought down their number today. But the incorrigibles now are the bishops themselves. In India bishops neither speak out or act, especially on sex abuse cases by the clerical class.
They would rather cover up and protect the criminals and help them to escape to foreign countries. That is the story we have from Sr.Abhaya case in Kottayam, 26 years and that case is still going using the money power of the hierarchical church. What happened and still continues in Kerala has now spread to Jelandar and Kadapa in central India.
Jelandsar issue is now investigated both by the Church and civil court. The Kadapa issue is of a more serious case of alleged sex abuse reportedly by the bishop brought to the notice of CCV editor in the first week of July by Revikumar Mesa of Kdapa. After studying the case for another two weeks and sending the information to Indian bishops who as usual never responded we published Revikumar’s. letter with more than a dozen verifiable proofs.
It is now in the public domain with reports and photos in the national press and abroad. Now a second Dalit leader Pradad Sambatur also from Kadappa has come forward with more compelling alleged wrong doings of the bishop which too we sent to all Indian bishops. But this time something exceptional has happened
Manandavay Bishop responded
One bishop from Kerala, Jose Porunnedom of Manandvady, has responded setting an excellent example to the rest of the Indian bishops and the CCV editor has replied.(See both the letters in CCV 20, 2918) Will other bishops follow his example to start a discussion on it and to act? According to report the case is a 20 year old one. If true, it should have been known to all bishops of Andhra Pradesh and also to bishops in India, as the case of Bishops Barros was known to all 34 Chile bishops, who had to resign in shame and remorse(?) when everything was brought in the open.
This proves one of the telling principles we often stated “The rotten, crooked and criminal leaders, whether in religion or politics, never do anything to save their SOULS, but surely will to save their FACES.” Such leaders of Jesus’ times, he called them by their proper name: “Hypocrites, whitewashed sepulchers and brood of vipers.
Wolves in sheep’s clothing
Once the wolves in sheep’s clothing start devouring the sheep it is the duty of the press, the watchmen, the fourth estate to alert the masters of the house who are to take action, not the watchmen. Otherwise it will be asked: “Who will guard the guards themselves?” (Qui custodet ipse custodes?) That is the only observation we have to make on the letter of Bishop of Manandavady. The rest of his letter is very exemplary and admirable. No other bishop has written such a constructive letter to the CCV.
Shepherds in India
Back to Shepherds of the sheep in India. Of all the serious sex abuse cases happening in India, especially by bishops, which case in India is to be settled first and disposed off? The 26 year Ahaya case is still going on. What is discussed in public now is the Jalandar and Kadappa cases. The CBCI, in comparison to US bishops, has not opened its mouth on Kadapa conumdrum, though they are the ones to take action, not the CCV.
If they are refusing to speak or act, we are left with one other option only, to ask you readers: Who will guard the guards themselves who pledged to protect the flock in India? james kottoor, editor ccv.
Please read below NCR article demanding mass resignation of US bishops
More than 3.000 theologians, educators and lay leaders have called for all U.S. bishops to submit their resignations to Pope Francis, much like Chile’s 34 bishops did in May after revelations of sexual abuse and corruption, as a public act of penance and a “willing abdication of earthly status.”
“Today, we call on the Catholic Bishops of the United States to prayerfully and genuinely consider submitting to Pope Francis their collective resignation as a public act of repentance and lamentation before God and God’s People,” said a statement, posted in English and Spanish on the Daily Theology blog on Friday.
“Only then might the wrenching work of healing begin,” it said.
The statement was released Friday, with 140 signers, in response to Tuesday’s release of a grand jury report that detailed seven decades of sexual abuse by clergy and cover-up by church leaders in six dioceses in Pennsylvania, as well as allegations earlier this summer that former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, sexually abused two children and adult seminarians.
Those interested can sign the statement by Tuesday, Aug. 20, when it, along with a cover letter, will be sent to the president and vice presidents of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as well as to to the apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. and to the Congregations of Bishops in Rome.
“We are brought to our knees in revulsion and shame by the abominations that these priests committed against innocent children,” the statement said. “We are sickened in equal measure by the conspiracy of silence among bishops who exploited victims’ wounds as collateral in self-protection and the preservation of power. It is clear that it was the complicity of the powerful that allowed this radical evil to flourish with impunity.”
Acknowledging that some bishops are “humble servants and well-intentioned pastors,” the statement’s signers still urged a collective resignation by all bishops because of the “systemic nature of this evil.”
“Systemic sin cannot be ended through individual goodwill. Its wounds are not healed through statements, internal investigations, or public relations campaigns but rather through collective accountability, transparency, and truth-telling,” the statement said.”We are responsible for the house we live in, even if we did not build it ourselves,” it said.
The statement also expressed support for “sound proposals,” such as those for external investigations like the one in Pennsylvania, which “would begin to convert this ecclesial culture of violence into one of transparency, accountability, humility, safety, and earned trust.”
But “truth-telling and repentance are prerequisites to conversion” at the institutional, as well as individual, level, the statement said, noting that “no genuine process of healing and reform can begin” without such a demonstration of repentance.
“As a collective body, the bishops have given the faithful little indication that they recognize and take accountability for the breathtaking magnitude of the violence and deceit that has continued unabated under their leadership,” it said.
The statement was organized by Susan Reynolds, assistant professor of Catholic Studies at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, who worked with editors of the Daily Theology blog in writing it.
“This is not a call for blood,” Reyolds told NCR. “But it’s a large cross section of the Catholic Church saying that what we need in this moment are not more words. What we need is a genuine demonstration of deep sorrow, contrition and a recognition of the harm that this has caused.”
Reynolds, who has lived in Chile, took as inspiration the mass resignation by that country’s bishops earlier this spring. The pope has accepted five of Chile’s bishops’ resignations so far. The statement notes that Chile has an active bishop-to-Catholic ratio similar to the one in the United States, while the crisis in the U.S. seems to have a broader geographic scope.
“After years of suppressed truth, the unreserved decisiveness of the Chilean bishops’ resignations communicated to the faithful a message that Catholics in the United States have yet to hear, with an urgency we have yet to witness: We have caused this devastation. We have allowed it to persist. We submit ourselves to judgment in recompense for what we have done and failed to do.“
Given the overwhelming and positive response Reynolds has received since the statement was released, she believes many U.S. want more than the admittedly necessary structural reforms, such as those enacted after the Boston crisis in 2002. “They look at the bishops then and now and say, ‘I don’t think they understand how horrific this is, and if they do understand it, it’s not coming through,’” she said.
The signers are diverse geographically, generationally and ideologically, Reynolds said. They include chairs of theology departments, catechists and directors of religious education programs, high school teachers, parish wedding planners and homeschooling moms.
On social media, one criticism was that the initial signers did not include many prominent names—a comment Reynolds sees as evidence of the clerical culture that is at the root of this and other problems in the church.
The statement notes that the issue is not liberal or conservative. “It does not emerge from a particular faction or ideology but rather from the heart of a wounded Church,” it said. “It is an expression of fidelity to the victims, to Jesus Christ, to the Church in whose service we have devoted our lives.”[Heidi Schlumpf is NCR national correspondent. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @HeidiSchlumpf.]