I feel like it’s a fair question. Is it possible to say that a thing is definitely, absolutely, unquestionably a good thing, and yet be unsatisfied by it? Or am I just being pedantic and focusing too much on the wrong parts of a thing? As I write this, I’m still not totally sure. One thing I am sure of, though, is that this vagueness in my comments needs to end. Let me set the stage a bit.
It was Thursday of this week, or yesterday if you’re reading this the day it posts, and as I often am, I was at school more than an hour early. I know, that’s insane, but I always worry that I’m forgetting something, and if I get to school early, then I can take care of what my little, neurotic self may have forgotten. Anyways, as is normal, I hadn’t forgotten anything, so I had a nice, leisurely start to my morning. Once everything was set up in the classroom, I opened up a new tab on my browser and went to scan through the top headlines. Normally, I get sucked in by various lists, sports rumors, and other inane time killers. This time, though, I saw something that really caught my eye. “Pope issues new rules mandating the reporting of sexual abuse to Church authorities.” Welp, Ok. I tend to have what I consider a semi-morbid curiosity about what the mainstream, secular media will have to say about Catholic leadership, and it’s become less semi- and more full on morbid as we Catholics have found ourselves learning about more and more scandals.
To CNN’s credit, the article itself was a good piece of reporting, laying out both what the announcement was and what it wasn’t. As a TL;DR summary: Every diocese in the world MUST develop and implement policies and protections for people to report suspicions of abuse to the Church hierarchy. Now, back to my original question. Can I acknowledge that this policy is a good thing, and at the same time be frustrated that the leadership of the Church isn’t also addressing other things? Because, I mean, come on, this policy is undeniably a good thing. I mean, I know some people are probably going to be frustrated that it doesn’t specify contacting local law enforcement, but they need to acknowledge that the Church universal can’t set specific requirements that will fit with worldwide variations in law enforcement. So, yeah, I am glad that every diocese will have a reporting process and protections for the people reporting.
And yet(I hate throwing an “and yet” in here, but again, this is where I’m at now), this still doesn’t address key parts of the scandals which rocked the Church in America this past summer. What about a system which protects seminarians, priests, and other adults who have been abused in what one EWTN pundit described as the Catholic “Me Too” movement? Yes, they are adults. Yes, they technically consented. Also, yes, they felt pressured to consent by a person in position of authority with influence over their ability to pursue their vocation.
I know there are reasons why I shouldn’t link the policy on one hand with the silence on the other. I know that the Church in America can’t hijack the conversation about what needs to happen in the Church Universal. I know that a step forward in the protection of minors is a thing worth celebration, and that protecting minors doesn’t mean we’re necessarily ignoring adults. I know all of this, but I still feel a slight, but deep seated frustration. I’m open to correction here. But, at the same time, I feel what I feel. A very real part of what I feel is a fear that many people will think that the Church addressing a scandal means they’ve addressed all the scandals. And that’s not something I can celebrate.