There is sober and sobering maxim that says: “Little knowledge is dangerous.” The veracity of this saying of long standing is well established by the equivalent thought that ignorance denudes intellectual pretence and flattens the exalting ego of those concerned. Among the more recent concrete examples of this exhibition of the danger of “little knowledge” were certain voices heard particularly in North America and in Europe to the effect: One, that the Pope did not act on the sexual errancy of some members of the Clergy in different Countries. Two , that the Pope is the one primarily responsible and thereby accountable for such shameful clerical misbehavior. Three, that the Pope wherefore should resign from his Office for such a grave blunder of inaction and indifference.
Those who dared readily adopted such a posture and publicly denounced the Pope for such a supposedly grand moral liability and gross administrative incompetence, did not even bother to think and consider the formidable answer to following more key questions: First, how huge really is the church as the body of Christian Faithful present in all the continents of the world, coming from all races, color and languages? Second, how huge as well is the number of the Clergy living in the four corners of the globe, and ministering to the Lay faithful in the Universal Church. Third, how huge too is the count of Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops manning the many major Vatican Congregations, Tribunals and Offices established and operating precisely to assist the Pope categorically in his apostolic mandate as the “Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church”? This is not to mention the hundreds of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and Secular Institutes and Pious Unions and Lay Association – all being attended and served by the Vatican City State. In other words, as the one and only, true and real Universal Institution in the globe, it is both a big physical and moral impossibility for the pope himself to be personally and directly involved with the shenanigans of these and those miserable priests in this and that Continents of the globe.
Question: Who then is concretely responsible and personally accountable for the life and discipline of members of the Clergy? Who then should be blamed and pinned down – officially faulted and formally censured – as wholly reproachable in the event that flagrantly erring members of the Clergy are allowed to live and act as if nothing were wrong, as if it were normal for Priests to engage in abominable and scandalous sexual escapades - - among other grave clerical misconduct?
Answer: The Archbishops and Bishops in whose respective ecclesiastical jurisdiction the priest concerned canonically belong to. To discipline, censure and/or penalize their erring Priest properly and squarely fall in their official and direct administrative or judicial responsibility – not the Pope!
07 APRIL 2010