Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sometimes legalism is good

Prof. Bainbridge, the current don of Catholic corporate analysis, give us the one-two on Cdl. Mahony's removal in light of the Fr. Caffoe tapes. It's a simple, legalistic reading of canon law, but the shoe fits. Video tape shows the priest with half-naked boys in a state of arousal, yet Mahony was able to stand before his flock and pat himself on the back that "no sexual activity" occured. There is no bishop more contemptible than Cdl. Mahony. His liturgical, doctrinal, and pastroal abuses have been clearly willful, knowing, purposeful, and reckless. He has done one thing right: immigration & Hispanic ministry, but even there, his political egocentrism has tainted his advocacy. Yes, Mahony must go.
Can a Bishop who has lied to his flock on such a key mttner be said to be in compliance with Canon 387? No. Especially given Mahoney's long track record of other misfeasances and malfeasances in connection with the priest sex abuse scandal.

Curiously, there is no express provision in the Canon Law for removal of a diocesan Bishop. Canon 401, § 2, however, states that:

A diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office.

Mahoney's violation of Canon 387 constitutes the requisite "grave reason" such that he should voluntarily resign. If he fails to do so, the Pope clearly has authority under Canon 403 to appoint a coadjutor bishop who would be vested with the bulk of Mahoney's responsibilities. Alternatively, despite the absence of a clear answer in canon law, most observers believe that the Pope has authority to remove a bishop for sufficiently grave reason. (Certainly, at the bare minimum, the Pope can "lean on" a bishop to do the right thing.)