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A tacit endorsement of a downsized papacy

There's irony in the decision of the Vatican to fight lawsuits stemming from the allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. In resisting the claims of victims from the United States, the Holy See is arguing that local bishops are not Vatican officials or employees. Whatever its validity in American law, this claim conflicts with the centralization of power in the Roman Catholic Church.

With rare exceptions, bishops are appointed by the pope. What's more, the Vatican bureaucracy keeps a watchful and sometimes censorious eye on policies adopted by national bishops' conferences, including the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

There are Catholics who believe that the church is over-centralized, that local bishops should have more autonomy and that bishops should be elected, not chosen by the pope. It is remarkable that the Vatican seems to be endorsing the notion of a downsized papacy -- at least when it suits its litigation strategy.

-- Michael McGough


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John R.

The poster obviously lacks an understanding of Catholic theology because every bishop is the head of a separate "particular church" that is in communion with every other local church and the Church of Rome.

The Church is not a corporation, and its bishops are not employees.


This person has also bought into reformer's world view about church organization and authority, but not necessarily the truth or reality. The Vatican has always been small - it is more like an accrediting body - people bring issues to it and there is flow back and forth. Members create and validate the norms and are supposed to be professionals enacting those norms. This whole scandal and the Pope's thrashing on every issue by members of the church for the past 5 years if not for the past 50 show that the bishops, priests and laity do what they will, everywhere... The Pope can't make bishops do anything - for example, why do some bishops ban the Extraordinary Form of the Mass now when the power is with the priests? I could go ...


Let's play a game of pretend.

Let's pretend that these things happened yesterday and not 30, 40 or 50 years ago and that the attitudes towards sex abuse were exactly like they are today. (See Roman Polanski.)

Let's pretend that psychologists 40 years ago told the church that these guys could not be rehabilitated and the church ignored their advice.

Let's pretend that there is not an unreported epidemic of sex abuse in the public schools and in the Boy Scouts. Big Media where are thou?

Let's pretend that critics of the church are really concerned about sex abuse and not shaking with hatred towards the Catholic church for it's perceived failure to join the sexual revolution.

And finally let's pretend that there is absolutely no media bias towards the Catholic church. For more on this see: http://www.mercatornet.com/justb16/


A bishop, in Catholic tradition is a succesor to the apostles and pope,(first among the equals) the bishop of Roman, is the succesor to Peter the first among the apostles of Christ. He is not the CEO of a MNC.

Decentralisation of the papacy is what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had envisioned long back before becoming the pope and one factor which is an important demand for the Eastern Orthodox churches which (In the Ravenna document a couple of years ago they have accepted that the bishop of Roman is indeed the 'first among the equals') are now moving towards Catholic unity demand .

The second Vatican council greatly stressed the collegality among all the bishops united with the bishop of Rome. Centralisation of papacy took place in the 16th century to fight protestant reformation. Even so bishops have always worked(according to canon law) with a fair amount of freedom and autonomy.


Autonomy or not they live on because the pope and his lackeys made rules to hide anything they don't like. We are not blaming the pope for raping little boys, we are blaming the vatican for covering it up and praising bishops and priests for doing so.

edward friel

no-no-no-lets pretend that priests are dyeing at a rate 4 to1 the general population from AIDS-lets pretend that the new reports in the news that the POPE-now has evidence priests are raping nuns in 27 different countries are just wrong-the may 18 report from the national organization for women -GIRLS AS VICTIMS-the largely untold story of abuse of younger girls and adolescent females,researchers who have looked at the data believe that even more girls than boys have been victims-posted in april at newsweek.com- lets pretend your money didn't did not make this all possible and that you-re not just as responsible for continued abuse of women-little girls an little boys worldwide with your support of finances and faith-san diego paid me 2.1 million an never contacted 1 witness in my case/lets pretend it not a harlot in a pretty dress



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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