Friday, May 28, 2004

More on Cardinal Law

I have been interested to see how many bloggers reacted to the appointment of Cardinal Law as the archpriest of St. Mary Major in Rome. What has interested me is how like CNN and others the comments have sounded. Now, what is about to follow is not to minimize the ineptitude of Cardinal Law in the matters of Boston, not only the clerical sex abuse scandal, but also the generally lackluster way the Faith was practiced in the Archdiocese. On the second point, I have no first hand encounters with this, but is gathered from those on the scene. So scream at them and not at me.

1. Forgiveness must always be operative. Even the person of Cardinal Law, if he is contrite and seeks to make amends, can receive forgiveness. Many people feel as though that is a cop-out. "He must pay," the cries resound, but ask yourself, how can he repay all the harm he has done? Will his being sent to prison restore the broken children? Will he being personally sued and being forced to pay up bring vigor to the life of the diocese? No on both. He will have to work out these "repayments" in penance and sacrifice and it will be very hard for us to see. I would suspect that if he paraded his contrition in the streets, no one would take it seriously anyway, so why do it? I think, I suspect, that why this bothers people so is it demonstrates the reality of forgiveness. However it happened, if he went to the Holy Father for confession or to his personal confessor, he now is returned to the work of the Church, albeit in a lesser light.
For more and better wisdom on this point, cf. Mark Shea's recent post.

2. This is not such a cushy position. The hew and cry has been that this is a big, cushy job. Ah, not quite. It is a ceremonial position and that's it. He gets to dress up for various functions at the basilica. For those who want to see more of a punishing assignment, ask yourself this question. Would you want him in charge of another diocese? Perhaps yours? In the end, the man remains in disgrace, going from the head of one of the largest and most venerable dioceses in the U.S. to the titular king of a basilica. No matter how ancient and magnificent it is (it's my favorite of the patriarchal basilicas), it is still a major demotion.
For more and better information, cf. Fr. Johansen's recent post.

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