Leon J. Podles :: DIALOGUE

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Bishop Accountability

July 20th, 2011 · 17 Comments

As a board member of BishopAccountability.org, I agree with Chaput, the new archbishop of Philadelphia. John Allen interviewed him:

What about the issue of the accountability of bishops inside the church itself? Critics often argue that recovery from the crisis can’t happen until bishops who covered up the abuse are punished as severely as the priests who committed it.

I understand that, and I think it’s a legitimate concern. We should have accountability for our actions in the church, and bishops should be as accountable as priests and laity. I’m sympathetic to the idea that there should be real consequences, with teeth, to acting contrary to the law of the land, the discipline of the church, or the moral law of God.

Do you think there are sufficient accountability provisions for bishops right now?

I’ll say something that many people in the church aren’t saying, which is that we ought to study this question and reflect on it very seriously. We should take up the issue of accountability, including accountability for bishops, in a formal, clear, and decisive kind of way.

Any sense of what that might look like?

No, because we haven’t done the study yet. In terms of the disciplining of bishops, that’s traditionally under the responsibility of the Holy Father. Since the question has been raised, I think the details of how someone can be held accountable ought to be developed and the Holy Father ought to give his approval when the appropriate time comes. I think it would be useful to him, and to all of us in the church, if there were clear principles and procedures.

I will assume that Chaput is sincere in these statements; buy how widely his view is shared by bishops and Vatican officials is uncertain; all indications are that being a bishop means never having to say you’re sorry, much less having to suffer any consequences for your actions and inactions.

Tags: clergy sex abuse scandal

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Truth lover // Jul 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I’m a missionary priest in Latin America for the past 33 years. We have lots of victims here. From the way Bishops react to victims, I’ve finally decided to go first to the civil authorities. Even Bishops who want to do something about eradicating priest predators are afraid because inevitably it leads to monetary settlements, and there’s not enough money for that, right?

  • 2 Tony de New York // Jul 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I hoping that other bishops will follow the good bishop.

  • 3 Truth lover // Jul 22, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Other bishops would follow, but now they are realizing that you need lots of money to pay victims. Victims eventually ask for money (even if they do not sue for it) because they truly need it. Their lives have been so damaged by priestly sexual abuse that they cannot keep a job. Personally I cannot wait until the Vatican sets up the web site, presumably in February of 2012, with Father Zollner, s.j., for the purpose of allowing priests to speak up. We priests need an official place to air our opinions on these matters. So far, we are supposed to keep our mouths shut. I have always thought that the Catholic Church needs its own “SNAP”, but inside the Church, not outside it.

  • 4 Joseph D'Hippolito // Jul 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Leon, I don’t trust Chaput. He is an ignorant careerist. Why do I think that? Well, in “First Things” magazine in 2002, he equated Supreme Cout Justice Scalia with Frances Kissling, the head of Catholics For A Free Choice. Why? Because Scalia raised questions about the Church’s revisionist stand toward capital punishment.

    This is what Chaput said:

    “When Catholic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia publicly disputes church teaching on the death penalty, the message he sends is not all that different from Frances Kissling disputing what the church teaches about abortion,… the impulse to pick and choose what we’re going to accept is exactly the same kind of ‘cafeteria Catholicism’ in both cases.”

    Anybody who knows Church history knows that, until very recently, the Vatican did not actively oppose capital punishment (in fact, the Papal States used the guillotine to execute offenders in its territory). Anybody who knows Church history also knows that the Church has *never* supported abortion.

    There are only three explanations for Chaput’s comment:

    1. He is pathetically ignorant of the history and theology of his own Church.

    2. He is a grandstander who needs attention.

    3. He is an ambitious charlatan who is bucking for a red cap and a bigger see.

    If you’re the betting type, bet on 3.

    Until Chaput apologizes publicly for his moronic, despicable response to Scalia, I will pay no attention to anything he says.

    The bishops are great at words. They excel at those more than they excel at actions. If Chaput really puts his money where his mouth is, I will be the most surprised person in the room.

  • 5 Father Michael Koening // Jul 23, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Truth Lover, I like the idea of the website. However, I won’t hold my breath for it.

    Joseph, do you think there’s also the possibility that Chaput subscribes to the “creeping infallibility” theology so many conservative Catholics embrace? I refer to the thinking that puts every teaching and statement of popes (especially modern ones) on the same level with solemn teachings of councils, etc. I’ve run into it with some of the JP II fans.

  • 6 Truth lover // Jul 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Father Michael,

    Beggars are not choosers.

  • 7 CM // Jul 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Quote taken from:

    German Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, who heads the Institute for Psychology at the Gregorian, leads a preparatory committee. In 2010, Zollner and another Jesuit, Italian Fr. Giovanni Cucci, published a book on the crisis titled The Church and Pedophilia: An Open Wound. In it, they argued that a media-induced “moral panic” over pedophilia, presenting old cases as new and distorting the statistical dimensions of the problem, “doesn’t help anybody.”

  • 8 Augusta Wynn // Jul 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Bishop Chaput believes there should be a “study” in order to answer John Allen’s question about about bishop accountability. Many of Chaput’s colleagues, too numerous to count, have shuffled pedophile priests around parishes to harm thousands of children, and the Vatican needs to study what to do about this? And you agree, Mr. Podles?

    Does there not need to be Grand Jury investigations all over U.S. dioceses? Why should it still matter what these pedophile enabling bishops and their hierarchs want to “study?” These were children being raped, the bishops DID NOT CARE, and Chaput and his colleagues want to study how to respond to it?

    This is a shining example why the men only club has got to go.


  • 9 Janice Fox // Jul 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Fathers Zollner, Cucci, and Chaput need to read BishopAccountability.org, Abuse Tracker, NCReporter, and this blog. Let us hope that Chaput does not go the way of Braxton in Illinois. I cannot believe the ignorance. A “moral panic” over pedophilia? These guys just don’t have children and do not care about their safety.

  • 10 Molly Roach // Jul 27, 2011 at 7:07 am

    The “studies” have been done: they are the grand jury reports from the US and the series of reports from Ireland. These are the studies that the bishops must familiarize themselves with.

  • 11 Crowhill // Jul 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Oh, that was Chaput! (re: Joseph’s comment)

    That was inexcusable. The man is an idiot.

  • 12 Joseph D'Hippolito // Jul 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Let me comment on Chaput’s recommendation for a study.

    Such studies, especially when conducted by the people responsible for misbehavior, will only result in excuses and platitudes. If Chaput wants real change, he should call for canonical trials of the enabling bishops and Bernard Law’s removal from his post at St. Mary Major in Rome.

    Then again, that would take real courage….and careerists like Chaput (if I’m right about him) don’t have the courage to take on their own.

  • 13 Donna Gaspar // Aug 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Mr Poddles
    I am shocked that you are a board member of Bishop Accountability. I highly respect them for there consistent skepticism of anything that comes from the mouth of a Cardinal or Bishop. Your remarks that he seems sincere are irritating to me, and I support BishopAccountability with my money.

  • 14 Tom Ranieri // Dec 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    My brother(who passed 5/26/2010 at the age of fifty. the statute of limitations says up till your fiftieth birthday; well considering victim,s assistance has been involved for at least 7 to 10 yrs.Settle up with this mans children.GODS WILLNOT MINE BE DONE. and lets open the civil window and get over this nightmare lol never ever will it go away

  • 15 Tom Ranieri // Dec 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Please in the name of all which is TRULY an understanding and yes forgiving. None the less we will never be 100% self sufficient . Lord knows this wrong must be righted . A BROKEN HEARTED BROTHER

  • 16 Tom Ranieri // Dec 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    You;ll have to excuse my previous entry i am quite upset at the moment

  • 17 Joseph P. Ciraolo, PhD // Apr 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Sir: This Chaput response is a continuing essay on the horrors comitted within the precincts of the R.C.C. for centuries. It has been “studying” these tragedies for the past 1000 years while they continue to this day - around the world. Action by the U.N. , the I.C.C. is needed to thwart the immoralilty and injustice of this so-called - “religious” institution. Chaput is typical of those selected to represent it.

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