Sunday, May 21, 2006

Do the Papal Shuffle


By punishing a powerful conservative ally accused of decades of
pedophilia, Pope Benedict XVI has proven that the Vatican's oft-stated
commitment to crack down on abusive priests has real teeth. And that in turn, makes Catholic returnees to Mass look a little smarter.

A senior Vatican official has confirmed to TIME's Jeff Israely the news (reported earlier today by the National Catholic Reporter) that just before Easter the Vatican essentially forbade Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, 86, founder of the powerful Legionaires of Christ movement, all further public appearances, including the celebration of the Mass.....

....The move amounts to a major statement because the Legionairies,
which Maciel founded in 1941, have been one of Catholicism's most vital and successful forces in the last few decades....But even as Maciel's institutional star was rising, un-saintly allegations about him were surfacing. In 1995 the Hartford Courant reported that nine of his former students had lodged intra-church complaints that he had molested them over three decades, in one case starting when the accuser was 12 years old.

....The new sanctions against him, which TIME's source said will be
publically announced within days "in light of the magnitude of the case," the Vatican confirmeed Friday morning in a one-page communiqué, settle the matter. They fall short of laicization, or removal of Maciel from the priesthood. But they still quallify as a triumph of papal principle over loyalty.

A triumph? I guess so.

Maybe I'm overly-cynical (and feel free to tell me so), but this doesn't seem like a triumph. It seems like the next evolution in the "Priest Shuffling" game that Benedict's predecessor was so fond of. Maciel's still a Priest - and he can still run his fast-growing sect. It's the equivalent of Disney's board of directors telling Eisner that he can still run the company, but that he can't make those cute little intros to "The Wonderful World of Disney" anymore.

Pedophilia is creepy and wrong. Those who've actively engaged in it should not be reshuffled out of the public eye. They should be dismissed from the Church for violating the sacred trust which congregants place in their leaders.


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