Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and PaulI’ve already blogged about the slow response of the Philadelphia archdiocese to a grand jury report covering cases of abuse by its clergy. It took an entire month for them to finally get around to suspending some — but not all — those accused in the report of abusing children. This is staggering, since most companies or government agencies will usually suspend employees accused of crimes almost immediately, as a protective measure.

Since the report was issued, and especially after the suspension of some — but not all — the accused, folks have been asking if and when Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, would resign. Until now he and his archdiocese have resisted discussing his own fate, and it looked as though he’d remain in place, even though just a short time before the grand jury report was issued, he stated that he knew of no abuse cases in his see. (He must have known about the grand jury’s investigation, which endured for two years, at the time he made that statement … so he had no viable excuse for having made it.)

At long last, the Vatican finally decided to let him resign, as the Voice of America reports (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of the leader of the Roman Catholic archdiocese in the U.S. city of Philadelphia — which has faced accusations of covering up sexual abuse by priests.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Cardinal Justin Rigali’s departure was on the grounds of age. The 76-year-old Rigali submitted his resignation when he reached the traditional retirement age of 75, but the pope did not immediately act on it.

As for why the Vatican would hold out for so many months, for Rigali’s benefit, the VoA story offers a clue:

Rigali, a former bishop in St. Louis , spent decades as an official at the Vatican.

Hmm. Yes, it turns out Rigali is a Vatican insider!

I honestly must ask the question posed in the title of this blog post: Was it really so fucking hard to just get rid of Rigali? Seriously?

It seems the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal just won’t die … because the Roman Catholic hierarchs steadfastly refuse to meet it head-on, like grown men, and continue to try to sneak their way out of it, hoping each revelation is the last and that the world will somehow forget the horrors it has inflicted on so many children around the world. But, as everyone knows, scandals like this never die on their own. They need to be dealt with substantively … and until they do, they just linger on forever. Yes, it takes courage to do so, courage which is rare if not non-existent these days. The Catholic Church is run by cowards … and every minute of every day that they allow this scandal to keep going on, they prove it.

Photo credit: elPadawan.

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