Friday, May 11, 2012
Some organizations possess moral authority unless they squander it. That is why stories like this are instructive. Roman Catholic bishops the world over continue to struggle with the sexual abuse scandals that have riven the ranks and caused many believers to walk away. It is hard for them to discipline nuns in light of this, since nuns weren't involved in sins of the past. Observers are asking what right bishops have to talk about doctrine when they themselves failed so glaringly at keeping it. It is a hard question for the episcopate, yet Church law and belief endow bishops with the responsibility for guarding faith and morals whether or not they fail personally. Bishops, in other words, should be humble in light of their faults but not back away from making decisions. I don't know the details of their concern with the leadership organization for nuns, but their letter was unpopular, which will make guidance all the more difficult to give. From a PR perspective, bishops are on the wrong foot.