National Catholic Reporter

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In new incarnation, Peggy Noonan becomes a regular here

 |  NCR Today

(Our colleague, Tom Gallagher quoted Noonan only hours ago.)

Not to ever underestimate the elegance of Peggy Noonan's prose, sometimes who says something is as important, if not more important, than what is said. I put the following concluding paragraphs, taken from Noonan's latest Wall Street Journal column, dealing with the Vatican's handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal, in this category:

...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.

But in the past few decades, they not only fought persons—"If you were loyal you'd be silent"—they fought information.

What they don't fully understand right now—what they can't fully wrap their heads around—is that the information won.

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The information came in through the cracks, it came in waves, in newspaper front pages, in books, in news beamed to every satellite dish in Europe and America. The information could not be controlled or stopped. The information was that something very sick was going on in the heart of the church.
Once, leaders of the Vatican felt that silence would protect the church. But now anyone who cares about it must come to understand that only speaking, revealing, admitting and changing will save the church.

The old Vatican needs new blood.

They need to let younger generations of priests and nuns rise to positions of authority within a new church. Most especially and most immediately, they need to 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!"

If the media and the victims don't keep the pressure on, the old ways will continue. As for Cardinal Law, he should not be where he is, nor mitred nor ringed.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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