Pope’s Ire Aimed at Wrong Target
Pope Benedict XVI can’t wait to crack down on “radical feminist” nuns.
But will he ever really crack down on protectors of pedophile priests?
A Vatican-led investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious cites the nuns’ silence on abortion and same-sex marriage. How bad is that up against the silence of church officials, from parish priests to the Vatican, who ignored and concealed child sex crimes?
By ironic coincidence, news about the Vatican’s effort to rein in the conference — the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States — broke the same day the Rev. Bradley M. Schaeffer resigned from the Boston College Board of Trustees after growing public criticism over the role he played in supervising a former Jesuit priest who allegedly molested dozens of children over a span of 40 years.
The juxtaposition of the two events exposes a familiar church mindset.
Perceived threats to his authority swiftly grab the pope’s attention. Accountability for long-ago threats to children is still something to dodge.
The Vatican launched an investigation of the nuns in 2008, concerned by what it views as the group’s increasingly liberal tilt. An American bishop is now charged with reeling them in, after the investigation revealed “serious doctrinal problems” relating to “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” The nuns were also reprimanded for public statements that put them at odds with Catholic bishops during the 2010 debate over health care reform.
This follows Benedict’s recent condemnation of dissident priests. During a Holy Thursday Mass, the pope publicly rebuked a group of Austrian priests who challenged the church on priestly celibacy and the ban on female priests; disobedience would not be tolerated, he said.