In January of 2002, the Boston Globe began reporting on the Catholic homo-clerical abuse crisis thus bringing international attention to a problem that had been festering for decades. In response to this unwanted scrutiny, the USCCB went into full blown damage control / public relations mode.
In March of that same year, the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People (now a standing committee) began work on drafting the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which was to be deliberated and voted upon at the Conference’s general meeting in Dallas three months later.
The draft of the text (now frequently called the “Dallas Charter”) originally included provisions that bound all “clerics” – that is, deacons, priests and bishops – but the language was changed to deliberately avoid the latter. The reason was given by Committee member and then Bishop of Bridgeport, CT, Bishop William E. Lori:
The Committee decided we would limit it to priests and deacons, as the disciplining of bishops is beyond the purview of this document.
Today, Archbishop Lori leads my home Archdiocese, Baltimore, which, according to New Ways Ministry, boasts of more “gay friendly” parishes per capita than any other in the nation! These parishes don’t fly under the radar here; on the contrary, they fly the rainbow flag. They also openly organize participation in the area’s annual “Gay Pride” parade, they publicly support so-called “same-sex marriage,” and their pastors gleefully baptize the poor adopted children of gay couples who obviously have no intention whatsoever of raising their child in the Faith.
As if he wasn’t busy enough serving as the de facto head of what has become the east coast’s premier “Catholic” LGBT vacation destination, Lori was recently appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV, and charged with leading an investigation into allegations of homosexual harassment by its former bishop, Michael J. Bransfield.
According to a statement issued by the Archdiocese of Baltimore:
The investigation … is being led by a five-member team of laity … comprised of three men and two women, including one non-Catholic, empaneled by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore.
That should go well.
Oh, and guess who else was among the leading voices at the 2002 USCCB meeting in Dallas and also had a large hand in determining the Charter’s final text?
Yup, you got it, Uncle Ted McCarrick, who told the NY Times as the meeting was about to convene:
Our people are waiting for the bishops to say, OK, we’ve got it under control, we’re on the same page, we hear you and we’ve listened to you and now you can be sure that this will never happen again.
Ostensibly to this end, the Dallas Charter ordered dioceses and eparchies to establish review boards…
… the majority of whose members will be lay persons not in the employ of the diocese / eparchy. This board will assist the diocesan / eparchial bishop in assessing allegations and fitness for ministry, and will regularly review diocesan / eparchial policies and procedures for dealing with sexual abuse of minors.
At Dallas, the USCCB also established a National Review Board (NRB) of laity “including parents, appointed by the Conference President and reporting directly to him.” According to the Charter, the NRB is charged with assisting and monitoring the Office for Child and Youth Protection.
Following the meeting, then USCCB President, Bishop Wilton Gregory, appointed four laypersons to the NRB’s “core committee,” which in turn recommended the appointment of nine other laypersons, each of whom Gregory swiftly approved. Altogether, the first NRB consisted of eight laymen and five laywomen.
In spite of so much oversight provided by lay review boards both local and national, as we now know all too well, instances of Catholic homo-clerical abuse did happen again, and again…
With this brief history in mind, it is more than reasonable for large numbers of Catholic faithful to take to the streets to demand change.
Except they’re not.
Oh, they’re taking to the streets alright, and they’re taking to social media, and they’re taking to the op-ed pages of secular and Catholic publications; channeling their inner Howard Beale and screaming, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
As for demanding change? Forget about it.
Practically all of today’s neo-con Catholic heroes, and even some self-identified “traditional” ones, are insisting on more of the same; namely, additional lay oversight. It’s as though they never heard of, much less bought into, the wise old saw that says, The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
These persons are not insane, however, they’re just woefully undernourished and diabolically disoriented after having been spoon fed the conciliar “faith” for so long that they now seem to genuinely believe that “all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown” (Gaudium et Spes 12); including, apparently, even the Church.
On August 28, 2018, the current NRB issued a statement, saying in part:
The National Review Board firmly believes, as has been expressed by several bishops in recent days, that the episcopacy needs to be held accountable for these past actions, and in the future, for being complicit, either directly or indirectly, in the sexual abuse of the vulnerable. Holding bishops accountable will require an independent review into the actions of the bishop when an allegation comes to light. The only way to ensure the independence of such a review is to entrust this to the laity, as recently suggested by [current USCCB President] Cardinal DiNardo. The NRB, composed exclusively of lay members, would be the logical group to be involved in this task.
Talk about Messiah Syndrome! These people seem utterly convinced that they alone can fix this mess and somehow redeem the Church.
Among those “several bishops” joining DiNardo is this call for greater lay oversight is Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, MO, who wrote in a recent, widely celebrated, letter to his flock:
The laity are the only ones who can keep the hierarchy accountable and get us out of the mess we bishops got ourselves into … Why can’t we have well qualified, nationally known and trusted lay experts named to the special task force announced by the president of the USCCB?
Right… as if this is a novel idea that has never been tried. McKnight’s plea is enough to make one wonder where he has been for the last decade-and-a-half of lay review board after lay review board. Thankfully, for the simpleminded, he went on to tell us exactly where he’s been; smack in the middle of the conciliar church-of-man:
We are too insular and closed in as a hierarchy, and so are some of our processes at the USCCB. The Second Vatican Council gave us not only the freedom but the obligation to utilize and engage the gifts and talents of the laity in the life and mission of the Church.
Ah, yes, the Almighty Council; the original oracle of the God of Surprises, the same that set the stage for the present Bergoglian Occupation of Rome and its perverted little ambassador to the world, Ted McCarrick.
The NRB statement went on to suggest that, in spite of their delusions of grandeur, the members still have at least some lingering sense for the Church’s hierarchical structure:
Establishing an anonymous whistleblower policy, as is found in corporations, higher education and other institutions in both the public and private sector, that would be independent of the hierarchy with participation by the laity, perhaps the NRB, who would report allegations to the local bishop, local law enforcement, the nuncio and Rome, needs to be established immediately.
Once again, one might be moved to wonder where these people have been. Are they not aware that laypersons and priests alike reported Uncle Ted to Rome, as did the Nuncio, many years ago; even prior to him being made Archbishop of Washington?
That said, it is ironic that the NRB cannot help but acknowledge – as must everyone else who is clamoring for more lay oversight of the bishops – that, ultimately, if this mess is ever to be cleaned up, it is Rome that must act!
This, whether they know it or not, simply will not happen until we once again have a holy pope who is genuinely invested in the actual mission of the Church; not the Council-inspired, earthbound, quasi-religious diplomacy of the last six decades.
Want another, even larger, dose of irony?
Cardinals Cupich and Weurl are actually on the right track (even if for the wrong reasons) with their proposal for allegations against bishops to be investigated by their Metropolitan Archbishop as opposed to a lay-led commission, with accused Metropolitans being investigated by their senior suffragan bishops; the findings ultimately being sent to the pope who alone has direct authority over the bishops.
The bottom line here is simple; laypeople can no more “take back the Church” and nurture it back to sanctity than the underaged children of crack addicted parents can take back their home and restore it to sanity.
So, what can we do? Plenty, and it will take a lifetime to accomplish.
We can immerse ourselves in Catholic tradition; the truths of the Faith as taught so clearly throughout the centuries prior to the conciliar revolution. We can frequent the Traditional Latin Mass as best we are able and run as far away as possible from the Novus Ordo.
We can make the quest for personal sanctity priority number one. Yes, this is far easier said than done; especially now when the Church is occupied in her clerical ranks by a preponderance of modernists, but God provides to those who but seek.
We can also, indeed we must, fast and pray for the Church, and we must make reparation to Almighty God for so many terrible offenses against Him.
You get the point…
It is human nature, I suppose, to look for ways to fix what is broken, especially when it is something we love, but the fact of the matter is it’s not the role of the sheep to manage the shepherd, and unless and until the Catholic faith returns to Rome, the homo-clerical crisis and every other ecclesial ill you can imagine will only endure and eventually get worse.