Irish Bishops Conclude Uneventful Meeting with Pope

If you didn’t have a calendar readily available, you could’ve easily thought the US bishops were meeitng with Benedict XVI’s predecessor in 2002. “Frank” words were exchanged. The bishops spoke of scandal and sorrow. The pope called the sexual abuse a sin. So, what’s different now? Absolutely nothing. Perhaps the media hyped the significance of the papal meeting with the Irish bishops. This meeting marked the first time Pope Benedict could have drawn a sharp distinction between his papacy and his predecessors in terms of how he would deal with priest sexual abuse. So the expectations were high. Neither side impressed anyone or showed any real effort at breaking new ground. Old words were spoken, tired cliches were utilized, and the Irish bishops left Rome with job security. Nothing changed and it appears nothing will change. Irish children are no safer after the two day papal visit. Survivors were not addressed or consoled. The public was not given any reason to regard the institution as anything but corrupt and incapable of real change. If the church’s bishops continue on this path, they risk irrelevancy and scorn. Their influence will continue to wane in other areas in which the church holds sway.