By Zachary Bailes
February 15, 2012
On February 14th the New York Times published an editorial entitled “His Eminence in Denial” decrying retired Cardinal Edward Egan’s revocation of his apology for the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse cover-ups. Cardinal Egan simply stated, “I should never have done that.” Juxtapose that against the Vatican’s global conference on sexual abuse held last week, and it’s clear that sexual abuse weighs heavy on the Catholic Church. Yet the Catholic Church seemed surprised when people were outraged about the Church’s furious anger about the infringement upon their religious liberty with the Obama Administration’s contraception decision.
The Catholic Church, infuriated about the contraception decision, for decades demonstrated little outrage about sexual abuse. Religious liberty, to be sure, holds center stage in the discussion of rights and liberties. Morally, sexual abuse scandals expose the larger systemic, hierarchical moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church leadership. Individual Catholic parishioners are not to be blamed for this, but rather the cloak-and-dagger approach supported by the institutional Church for so long.
Cardinal William Levada leads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office charged with enforcing church law, which Pope Benedict XVI held before he became pope in 2005. More than 4000 cases have been reported to his office in the past decade. Cardinal Levada states that those accused of sexual abuse “are a tiny minority of an otherwise faithful, committed clergy.” He continued to say that the Church has an “obligation to cooperate with the requirements of civil law.”
The question at hand is when did it suddenly become an obligation? Why wasn’t cooperation with civil law an obligation before?
Though the Catholic Church has and will have a moral responsibility to report such horrible atrocities to civil law, they have not had to report it because their privilege in the larger society protected them. Though not always holding sway in the larger public eye, they did have Christian privilege. Privilege slowly erodes because of pluralism, globalism, and postmodern hostility toward hierarchy.