Wyoming bishop a perfect test case for Pope’s vows of accountability


September 1, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

Ask the typical American Catholic in the pews, and most could probably tell you a fair bit about Theodore McCarrick, the ex-cardinal and now ex-priest whose fall from grace amid reports of decades-long sexual misconduct and abuse triggered a firestorm a year ago which, in many ways, is still raging.

By way of contrast, few rank-and-file churchgoers outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, or Kansas City, Missouri, could probably pick Bishop Joseph Hart out of a lineup – and that relative obscurity is precisely what makes Hart such an ideal test case for Pope Francis’s avowed commitment to accountability, including for bishops. (Of course, it’s actually a test of the entire system, not just the pope, but he’s the one making the promises.)

As any expert in the moral life will tell you, the real test of integrity isn’t what you do when people are watching, but the choices you make when they’re not.

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