Rev James J Scahill (St Michael's, E Longmeadow MA)A priest in East Longmeadow, MA took an unusual and courageous step this weekend. He called for Pope Benedict XVI to resign, and his bishop dutifully dressed him down for it. The Springfield Republican reports on his remarks and the bishop’s rebuke (WebCite cached article):

Less than 24 hours after calling for Pope Benedict XVI to step down, Rev. James J. Scahill drew a rebuke from the Roman Cathocic Diocese of Springfield Monday.

A longtime critic of the church’s sexual abuse crisis, Scahill delivered four sermons over the weekend suggesting that the 82-year old Pontiff should take greater responsibility for solving the church’s clergy abuse problems or resign.

Fr Scahill is one of the few Roman Catholic clergy in the country to dare take on his own Church’s leadership and issue a public reprimand for its conduct. His bishop, of course, couldn’t handle that, so he complained about it:

In a response issued Monday afternoon, Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell [of the Springfield diocese] faulted Scahill for bringing up the issue on a Sunday meant to foster reconciliation and forgiveness in the church.

“There is a sad irony in that Father Scahill’s remarks were delivered on Divine Mercy Sunday,” said McDonnell, adding the church has expressed “tremendous sorrow, sadness and shame” about clergy abuse cases.

For the record, Scahill’s parish is behind him:

St. Michael’s Parish Council president Thomas LaMondia said the congregation was largely generally supportive of Scahill’s message.

Bishop McDonnell’s response parrots the Church’s mantra — through all the reporting, criticism, etc. of this scandal — that “Things are different now, so stop complaining, and stop asking the Church to be punished!” The Church is not interested in making amends for its past conduct … aside from the occasional mealy-mouthed apology … and continually resists any attempt at being punished over this scandal. It believes this scandal is not “real,” not a collection of truly criminal acts by abusive clergy against children, or by hierarchs who covered it up, but rather, a merely-spiritual attack by various anti-Catholic villains (ranging from “the Devil,” to “masonic secularists,” “great foreign newspapers,” or even Jews). So the Church does not accept that it has done anything wrong, for which it ought to suffer any consequences. The abusive priests were victims — either of entirely-false allegations fabricated by said villains, or of children who’d been infested with the Devil and thus forced the poor defenseless clergy to behave criminally — and the hierarchs who covered up their activities were merely responding accordingly by not giving into the Forces of Darkness.

The bottom line is that the Roman Catholic Church … as a worldwide organization … views itself as the collective innocent victims of a spiritual assault. They will never do anything to concede defeat.

At any rate, I for one salute the Rev Scahill for taking the stand he has, and his parish for generally being supportive of him, in the face of his bishop’s rebuke and Vatican propaganda minimizing the scandal.

Photo credit: Dave Roback, The Republican

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