In response to my last post, the inestimable Kate Edwards made several wise comments:
First, several of the recent (and not so recent) appointees were not merely 'confirmation stooges' (!) but were vicar-generals in their (previous) dioceses and may well have been actively involved in the cover-ups. Indeed, at least two of them are reportedly under active investigation in this context (the most senior case being AB Wilson, who has allegedly refused to cooperate with the police investigation. If that doesn't warrant standing aside, I'm not sure what does!
Secondly, it is not at all clear that the 'we've handled it properly since 1996' line actually holds up. In the last week there have been claims that many in Melbourne were dealt with outside the Melbourne Response process; that religious orders are continuing to shield members and pay for endless appeals; and above all that the Church's in-house rehabilitation program (headed for years by the ultra-liberal and now rejector of the seal of confession, Bishop Robinson) treated hundreds of cases up to 2008 without disclosing one to the police and with the 'treated' being parish shuffled afterwards.
Thirdly, given the utter failure of our seminary selection procedures for so long, and the apparent failure of so many of our prelates to 'get it', can we really be sure that no new situations are arising, and that if they do they will be dealt with appropriately? Can we be sure that there are no (more) prelates with porn on their computers a la Canada? Can we be sure that some well meaning bishop will not, like Bishop Finn, dismiss the concerns of laypeople and decide to try and 'save the priesthood' of an offender?
It would be nice to think they have learnt the lessons, but public comments and inaction to date seem to suggest otherwise.
Personally, I'll have some hope when:
1. The assorted whistleblowers (mostly teachers, but also some priests) get their jobs back and compensation.
2. When those accused of failing to report cases stand aside from their jobs pending the outcomes of the investigations.
3. When anyone who in any way supported those guilty (paying their court costs, accompanying them to court, etc) do public penance and admit not just that it was an error in judgment to be apologised for, but a serious sin of complicity. We need our bishops to come out and say that these men committed sins that deserve punishment.