Cardinal Bernard Law fled Boston 16 years ago. Three popes and countless scandals later, Catholic Church leadership is unable to properly investigate and appropriately deal with criminals within its ranks and lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics out of this abhorrent sexual abuse epidemic. In the secular world, the justice system would have long ago imprisoned the guilty, revealed the ugly truths, and forced the organization to change structural causes.
Instead, the Vatican, retreated to mantras like “forgiveness” and “healing” accompanied by minimal action, denials, confusing statements, and tepid support of progressives like Cardinal O’Malley. A growing number of Catholics believe the church has not done nearly enough and that the Curia is arrogant, out of touch, or perhaps even criminal itself.
In order to restore confidence, the hierarchy must demonstrate it is adaptable to 21st-century realities and not mired in medieval views:
1. Appoint a third-party independent commission to investigate all dioceses. Cooperate with all law enforcement and let the chips fall where they may. It will be painful, but if they had done it 16 years ago, it all would already be in the past.
2. Recognize why these scandals have not permeated the ranks of rabbis, ministers, and imams. They can have sex, marry, and have children. It’s time to abandon chastity vows and populate parishes with similar Catholics who want to be priests and nuns. Let them serve their parishioners by being empathetically connected and not mythical figures, unaware of what it is like to be coupled or to raise a family.
3. Allow women and gays to be priests and fully embrace the disenfranchised.
Prove that the “men in red “and the “one in white” truly understand our changing society and are willing to do what is necessary to regain moral authority and credibility.
David D’Alessandro is former CEO of John Hancock Financial Services.