Sexual Abuse and the End of Papal Deference
COMMENTARY: The Chilean bishops’ visit to Rome demonstrated the newfound willingness of bishops to push back publicly against objectionable actions.Fr. Raymond DeSuzza has a good commentary at The National Catholic Register which you can read in full HERE. I print the last part of his commentary below.
From a traditional Catholic’s orthodox point of view is this a good thing or not, meaning just more post Vatican II heterodoxy? DISCUSS:
When the pope was in Chile last year that the age of deference by bishops toward the Holy Father took a decisive turn. After Pope Francis made comments accusing his critics of making false charges, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, directly rebuked the Pope’s statement. For a senior cardinal to publicly dress down the Pope was unprecedented. That the Holy Father found himself compelled to accept the reprimand was the true earthquake; he no longer could insist upon the deference that he was not being given.
This is new territory, and the consequences are only slowly being seen — for good and for ill. At the American bishops’ meeting in November, the decision of the Holy Father to postpone votes on American reform proposals was publicly criticized by the bishops present, including their president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
The most astonishing statement came from Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, who argued that when it comes to telling the truth, the “Holy Father should be given the benefit of the doubt.” That’s not deference; it’s damning with faint praise.
The castigation model preferred by the Holy Father — whether speaking to the Roman Curia or writing to the U.S. bishops earlier this month on retreat — depends upon the bishops accepting it without protest. That can no longer be assumed, a new dynamic to be taken into account ahead of the sex-abuse summit in Rome next month.
The age of deference has been winding down for several generations. The days of when officials would kneel during brief meetings with the Holy Father and he would take all his meals alone have long ended. In the early years of St. John Paul II, it was quite common for theological dissenters and religious orders in turmoil to make heated public criticisms of the pope.
But bishops generally held their tongues. Even when bishops were summoned for (private) castigation, such as the Dutch bishops in 1981 or the Australian bishops in 1998, public deference was maintained. That is no longer the case.