By Ted Blount
Naples Daily News [Naples, Florida]
Downloaded March 3, 2004
Catholic bishops would like us to believe that a few pedophile priests are the cause of the church's current problems, and that their recently adopted guidelines for the protection of children will fix everything.
They are wrong.
The bishops are only treating a symptom. The church's problems are not limited to child abuse. Their root causes are systemic. They are a result of antiquated monarchical governing structures which church leaders are trying desperately to preserve. These structures form a system which is presided over by a fraternal hierarchy whose culture demands secrecy, strict obedience and absolute loyalty of its member priests and bishops.
It answers to no one. It is fueled by billions of dollars each year with which to exercise power when it sees fit. Of course, such a culture can only facilitate, rather than discourage, the misuse of funds, not to mention sexual and other forms of misconduct which its beneficiaries then attempt to cover up.
The time has come for Catholics to dismantle the wall separating the hierarchy from the people of God. The laity must now assume its rightful role of governing the temporal affairs of the church in collaboration with bishops who are prepared to recognize the need for openness and accountability. Bishops who don't should step aside, so that the finances, property and human resources of the church can be managed in such a way that the sins of the past can be averted.
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