Catholic News Service via CatholicPhilly.com
Newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
July 30, 2018
By Mark Pattison
Washington – The sexual abuse allegations surrounding now-former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick have prompted some church figures to call for a more thorough reckoning of the U.S. church’s clerical sexual abuse policies.
“We can — and I am confident that we will — strengthen the rules and regulations and sanctions against any trying to fly under the radar or to ‘get away with’ such evil and destructive behaviors,” said Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, in a July 27 letter to clergy in his diocese. “But, at its heart, this is much more than a challenge of law enforcement; it is a profoundly spiritual crisis.”
“In negative terms, and as clearly and directly as I can repeat our church teaching, it is a grave sin to be ‘sexually active’ outside of a real marriage covenant. A cardinal is not excused from what a layperson or another member of the clergy is not,” Bishop Scharfenberger said.
“A member of the clergy who pledges to live a celibate life must remain as chaste in his relationship with all whom he serves as spouses within a marriage. This is what our faith teaches and what we are held to in practice. There is no ‘third way,’” he added.
Bishop Scharfenberger said, “Abuse of authority — in this case, with strong sexual overtones — with vulnerable persons is hardly less reprehensible than the sexual abuse of minors, which the USCCB (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) attempted to address in 2002. Unfortunately, at that time — something I never understood — the ‘Charter’ (‘for the Protection of Children and Young People’) did not go far enough so as to hold cardinals, archbishops and bishops equally, if not more, accountable than priests and deacons.”
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