” No man who practices deceit/shall live within my house/No man who utters lies shall stand/before my eyes.” (from Psalm 101 from the Liturgy of the Hours)
Something new that I am seeing and I do not like at all is a new way of deflecting responsibility for the Clergy Sexual Scandal by the Church. Now when various and sundry diocesan administrators did nothing to stop the movement of priests who had abused youth, (not moved them themselves because that was not their job or in their power), the blame is being hoisted on past bishops and past bishop’s alone. Now it is appropriate for bishops to take responsibility but that includes current bishops. It is too convenient for blame to be placed solely on dead and retired bishops even when they deserve our scorn because of the mess this scandal has made.
The priests who knew of their brother priests scandalous molesting of underaged parishioners are culpable for the movement around the diocese of these aberrant priests even if they did not directly move these priests around the diocese.
1983 CIC 277. § 1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity. § 2. Clerics are to behave with due prudence towards persons whose company can endanger their obligation to observe continence or give rise to scandal among the faithful. § 3. The diocesan bishop is competent to establish more specific norms concerning this matter and to pass judgment in particular cases concerning the observance of this obligation.
When priests failed to live up to this canon by diddeling kids the bishop at the time had an obligation to remove them from ministry and report them to the authorities. Failing to do that then the priest administrators that had knowledge of the errant priests had an obligation to inform the secular authorities, i.e. the police. The argument/claim that one was obeying a bishop under the auspices of canon law is bogus. There is no obligation to obey anything the bishop orders when it is immoral or breaks the secular law. (Some secular laws are immoral but that’s a different fight.)
Current bishops blaming past bishops without taking responsibility for past sins and also trying to settle this issue with compassion and healing for all involved is not just erroneous but is immoral. Priests who let personal ambition or fear control their inaction in doing the right thing can arguably be called deceitful. It is also deceitful for current bishops to blame past bishops without accepting responsibility for the scandal and without trying to unite and heal instead of divide and exacerbate the pain.