Somehow I missed Peggy Noonan’s article from April 17 in The Wall Street Journal called “How to Save the Catholic Church.” I’m surprised it hasn’t generated more controversy (maybe it has, and I missed that, too).
Noonan believes the old ways of secrecy, silence, loyalty at all costs, and the “old-boys club” mentality can no longer be the way of Church officials.
I know this from having seen it: Many — not all, but many — of the men who staff the highest levels of the Vatican have been part of the very scandal they are now charged with repairing. They are defensive and they are angry, and they will not turn the church around on their own.
In a way, the Vatican lives outside time and space. The verities it speaks of and stands for are timeless and transcendent. For those who work there, bishops and cardinals, it can become its own reality. And when those inside fight for what they think is the life of the institution, they feel fully justified in fighting any way they please. They can do this because, as they rationalize it, they are not fighting only for themselves — it’s not selfish, their fight — but to protect the greatest institution in the history of the world.
Noonan has two primary recommendations: Let the younger generation of priests and nuns rise to positions of authority, and elevate women:
As a nun said to me this week, if a woman had been sitting beside a bishop transferring a priest with a history of abuse, she would have said: “Hey, wait a minute!”