Writing in Commonweal, Peter Steinfels says the world’s largest church needs ‘shock therapy’.
The church needs shock treatment, and until the mini-shock of his resignation, Benedict, to the relief of many, did not seem like the man to administer it. Ratzinger, yes; Benedict, no. What shocks have come during his papacy were usually by blunder rather than intention. Evaluations of his tenure have balanced the pros and cons of his deeds according to the lights of the balancer. What is still untallied, except for his failure to unmistakably demand accountability in regard to clerical sexual abuse, is what has remained undone. Underlying conditions like the limitations, in numbers, quality, and age, of the clergy or the massively eroding credibility of church teachings on sexuality are no better than when he took office in 2005. Much of the hierarchy deludes itself with slogans in search of substance like “The New Evangelization,” or rationalizes inaction with the familiar alibi, “The church works in centuries.” In fact, history teaches that the church often suffers for centuries from its failure to act during critical passages.
There’s something to be said for a rapid change in governance, and that it might not always be bad. However, the CC doesnt just need ‘shock therapy’ it needs a root-to-branch reform.