Pope Benedict and the Irish bishops have issued a communiqué.
Good words, but only words.
Although Benedict has acted more strongly against priest-abusers than any pope since Pius V, he has not really acted against bishops who have abused or against bishops who have tolerated abuse.
Bishops who have committed sexual abuse remain bishops: they could be laicized, like Bishop Fernando Lugo of Paraguay was when he was elected president But these criminal bishops remain bishops “in good standing” in the Church.
Cardinal Law was given a luxurious post in Rome and sits on my important committees. A few Irish bishops have been forced to resign because of public outrage, but of all the bishops who have tolerated sexual abuse, only a handful have suffered any consequences beyond having to issue apologies written by their lawyers.
Having read hundreds of cases, I wonder whether many of the abusers are atheists, in fact whether some of the bishops are atheists. It is hard to imagine a believer who thought he would stand before the judgment of God who would enact, tolerate, and enable such blasphemous sacrileges.
It would not be the first time the clergy and hierarchy was riddled with unbelief – the weakness of faith in the French clergy of the 18th century was unmasked by the Revolution.