Vatican On LA Sex Scandal: Misery Loves Company genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

Priest Abuse Scandal

The day after the Los Angeles Archdiocese agreed to a settlement of $660 million dollars in the lawsuit alleging a pattern of sexual abuse on children by members of the clergy, the Vatican spoke out on the issue. Some forty plus years after a concerted effort to hide the illegal actions of numerous priests throughout the United States, the Vatican asserted its desire to lead the fight against pedophilia.

In my cynical view, it is hard to accept the latest mea culpa and to believe that it would have been issued had the Church been successful in hiding the abuse for another forty years. Further, in the statement released by the Vatican, the Church sought to point out that they were not alone in needing to address the problem...suggesting that other institutions needed to step forward and take responsibility.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi spoke to Vatican Radio after the Los Angeles archdiocese reached a $660 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of clergy sex abuse, the largest-ever U.S. payout.

"The church is obviously above all saddened by the suffering of the victims and their families, by the profound wounds caused by the inexcusable and grave behavior of various church members, and is determined to commit itself in every way to prevent the repetition of such wickedness," he said.

However, he said, other institutions should also take similar responsibility.

"They too should take decisions and necessary measures," he said, without naming any institutions.

Regardless, Lombardi said the church would lead "the fight against pedophilia, which today involves growing sectors of society in many countries of the world."

Is it possible that drawing others into the mess is an act of moral relativism...a misery loves company rationalization? Maybe I should be more forgiving but it seems to me that the Vatican's apology would have been more powerful if it hadn't also asked everyone to jump into the "prevent pedophilia pool" with them in their initial reaction to the huge settlement.

In light of the belief by many that the settlement was simply the only way to prevent the Church and Cardinal Mahoney from divulging the actions of the Church with regards to covering up the transgressions, an unmitigated apology would have seemed more appropriate and likely more beneficial.

As I recall my experience with the sacrament of confession, had I amended my act of contrition to include a statement that there were many others who had committed similar offenses, I suspect I would have first received a lecture on personal responsibility and the irrelevance of the sins of others...followed by a penance that made note of my effort to draw others into my situation and to minimize my own failings.

Fortunately for me, I learned many years ago that religious leaders were far more adept at writing rules than at following them. Perhaps that is the beauty of constructing a doctrine premised upon absolutist rhetoric.

Daniel DiRito | July 17, 2007 | 12:26 PM
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1 On July 19, 2007 at 1:14 AM, jjjjohhhnn wrote —

I agree that a simple, direct apology would have been more effective, and more acceptable to me. I know Catholics who have had children baptized in the same gown for 4 generations. Compared to their devotion, Cardinal Law and Cardinal Mahony seem feeble, and the Pope appears to be engaged in duplicity.

Sincere repentance, effective reform; sweep your own step before you mention your neighbor.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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