Well, here I go again. How hard can it be to say that we are sorry and to make some attempt at repentance? Our readings these days are about Christ the Good Shepherd. Can our shepherds, our bishops, come up with some sort of adequate apology and repentance about this mess? I do not think that it is so hard a thing to do. They have the institutional ability to pull it off. The communications during the health care debate and the response to the earthquake in Haiti show that they are able do big things fast. Why not here?
Perhaps we in America can give an example even to the Holy See itself on how to respond to failure. The reforms of the Dallas charter, although not perfect, have been effective at protecting children. Let's shake up the unhealthy aspects of clerical culture. It would not be the end of the world to be a lot more transparent about everything. It would not be the end of the world to delegate real authority. It would be a blessing for the Church not only in this area but across the board. There is so much talent in the Church. The bishops will always be the shepherds, but they really would profit by being more accountable to the sheep! They will be more effective and truer signs of Christ the Good Shepherd.
It is a lot more fun and fruitful to be part of mixing things up in the messiness of the world. Imagine real Catholic witness about marriage and family life: taking the time, for example, to engage engaged couples about their vocation -- by giving up cohabitation, embracing NFP, etc. Imagine hunkering down to real inspiration to lead an interior life: let's all pray a national holy hour! Imagine a renewal of catechesis and sacramental practice: every Catholic Church in America offering Confession at the same time! There are people imagining all these things and more. Turn them loose! Maybe I am around too many on-fire young Catholics. But maybe not... They don't care if you admit that you have messed up. They really want to set the world on fire with the love of Jesus Christ. Lead them.