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The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
--Cornelius Tacitus (c. 116 A.D.)

Friday, March 22, 2002
Peggy Noonan is looking to the Pope to drive the evil from the church. As she puts it: "And yet, one must hope the pope's letter was only a beginning, only a prologue to action more grave and definitive... The pope did not say some things that many if not most--I think almost all--Catholics here yearn to hear. He did not speak of defrocking the abusers, of defrocking serial seducers of the young and their protectors. And he did not speak of the victims of abuse and their families, except to assert the church always intends to treat them justly and with sympathy. But it has not always treated them justly, truthfully and with sympathy, not on our shores... The most ardent American Catholics I know, and an imperfect and sinful lot they are, and I would know as I am one of them, but the most ardent Catholics I know, the ones who are the church--who take the sacraments, go to church, get ashes, go to confession, visit the Blessed Sacrament in the middle of a busy day, who give money to the local church to fix the roof and get new computers for the local Catholic school, who love the church, adhere to it as best they can and hold it high--are the most angry, shocked and disgusted by the scandals. They do not in this tragedy defend the leadership of the American church, as they have in the past. They are not complaining that a few cases of misbehavior are being blown up by a hostile press to attack the church, as they have in the past. Instead they send each other e-mail attachments containing new reports of abuse, and they welcome calls from prominent Catholics such as Bill Buckley and Bill Bennett to clean out the stables. For the first time in my lifetime ardent Catholics, or perhaps I should say orthodox Catholics, no longer trust their cardinals and bishops to do what's right. They have pinned their hopes on the Vatican, and on the old warrior saint, JPII. They want him to hold up his silver crosier with the crucified Christ on the top and demand that priests who seduce teenage boys--or who sexually abuse, molest or seduce anyone--be thrown from the church, and that their protectors, excusers and enablers be thrown from it too."
Most poingnantly: "The other day, like a fool, I thought to myself these words: The church needs a savior. This was followed by the thought: But the church has one. He is its meaning, its purpose, its light. He threw the abusers and predators out of the temple in a great rage; he said "Suffer the little children to come unto me" and gave the innocent His love. He hangs, crucified, on the top of the crosier carried by the pope."

"... so many of us are hoping that what we heard this week will not be remembered by history as "the pope's statement" but as "the pope's first statement--the one that led to a great shaking of the rafters in 2002." I hope he's not too old to lead.
posted by Rachel 3/22/2002
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