Friday, June 09, 2006

Backdoor reform

With down yesterday, I wasn't able to post what could be big news: A federal judge has ruled that a sex-abuse related lawsuit with the Vatican as a defendant can proceed, despite the Holy See's usual immunity from U.S. law because of its status as a sovereign nation. The case involved a Servite priest who first abused a child in Ireland, who was then transferred to the U.S., where he abused other children. The argument is that, since the Vatican has direct authority over bishops and their actions, it can be implicated in the abuse.

This won't go much further, of course; the State Department will likely be able to get the Vatican removed, and the Vatican has already appealed. Besides, Vatican pockets aren't as deep as one might think, fancy art aside.

But Catholicism has only itself to thank for the impression that it is a giant corporation instead of a communion of local churches. No one would think to sue the Archbishop of Canterbury for abuse in an Episcopal Church; that's because the Anglican communion understands itself--following far more ancient tradition than our current Roman super-papalism--as a federation of local churches, which is a quite Catholic ecclesiology.

So, if we can't get that kind of reform in the Roman church on the appeal to tradition, subsidiarity, and inculturation, maybe we can get it for economic reasons. Always go for the mammon, I say.


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