Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Deposing Bishops, Again

Dom Bettinelli at BettNet echoes thoughts I raised last weekend, and again Monday, about the manifest unfitness of some of our bishops when he wrote:

Perhaps what need is not a new lay review board, but new bishops.

As Dom points out, that the bishops require this "oversight committee" is evidence of their corporate moral bankruptcy. I do not think that St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Basil or St. Charles Borromeo required lay "oversight" boards to keep them to their episcopal duties. Can you imagine their response to a priest homosexual-predator? As I wrote in a letter to my own bishop (James Murrray of Kalamazoo), the NCCB needs to adopt a measure calling for the immediate resignation of any bishop who (a) is not willing to publicly support and defend the Church's teaching on sexual morality, and it's discipline of priestly celibacy, and/or (b) is guilty of gross negligence of the spiritual good of the faithful in his see, a la Bp. Galante of Dallas.

But before I agree with Michael Dubruiel, who is unhappy at some bishops' slowness or seeming unwillingness to enforce the Charter, I have a question:

What is the actual current standing, or force, of the Charter? I am no canonist, but I recall Pete Vere's analysis last week on the Canon Law Blog. If it is so flawed, canonically speaking, do we want bishops implementing it?

As Dom said last Friday, the "zero tolerance" policy, which I have steadfastly opposed, will force bishops "to take decisive actions in cases when the facts seem not to merit that treatment." If it is, as Pete wrote, likely to be modified or overturned by Rome because it provides opportunities for further injustice, isn't it a good thing that bishops hold off on it?

Does the Charter have the force of law? I'm not a canonist, but it seems to me the answer is no. I invite Michael, Pete, canonists and other concerned parties to weigh in with their comments and opinions. Send me an e-mail and I'll post the results!