John Allen wants to end the ‘blame game’

Over at the National Catholic Reporter, John Allen says that too much has been made lately of letters sent by officials in the Vatican to various American and Irish bishops, letters that appear hesitant about immediately reporting sexual abuse allegations against priests. Allen says some people want to turn such letters into smoking guns, as if this shows that the Vatican was complicit in covering up the abuse; while on the other hand, some try to insist that these letters were written by rogue bishops who never represented the mind of the Vatican to begin with.

The truth, Allen says, lies somewhere in between — and the sooner we acknowledge it, the sooner we can end the “blame game” that has taken hold in the Church:

Here’s the reality: In the main, it’s not that local bishops wanted to cooperate but were barred by a secret Vatican edict, and neither is it that Rome, aside from a few troglodytes such as Castrillón Hoyos, always believed in full transparency. Until quite recently, the culture in institutional Catholicism, at all levels, put a greater premium on the church’s independence and its right to privacy than on seeking justice for the victims of sexual abuse. Everyone helped create that culture, and everyone must share in reforming it.

Allen is certainly right that there’s enough responsibility to go around. What do readers think?

Margaret Cabaniss


Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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