The Australian bishop whose “devastating critique” of sex abuse in the Church (Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus) became a controversial bestseller last year has come under fire from the American hierarchy at the start of a month-long US tour.
Retired Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson was “den[ied] permission ” to speak in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Cardinal Roger Mahony after a statement from the Australian bishops cited “doctrinal difficulties” in Bishop Robinson’s “questioning of the authority of the Church.”
Cardinal Mahony wrote to Bishop Robinson warning him to “cancel the entire speaking tour.” The tour which began in Philadelphia includes stops in New York, Seattle, San Diego and Boston. Bishop Robinson is scheduled to speak in suburban Encino on June 12.
Critics alleged that the move by Cardinal Mahony — one echoed by bishops in other dioceses where Bishop Robinson is to speak – had less to do with “safe[guarding] the teachings of the Church” than Mahony’s desire to contain the fallout from the abuse scandals, which saw Mahony pay $660 million to victims last summer.
The Church-reform group, Voice of the Faithful, protested over what it saw as an attempt to “silence” a “courageous Catholic.” Last week the group awarded the bishop its “Priest of Integrity Award.”
Bishop Robinson says: “My book is about the response to the revelations of sexual abuse within the Church. Sexual abuse is all about power and sex, so it is surely reasonable to ask questions about power and sex in the Church … We must be free to follow the argument wherever it leads.”
The American cardinals and bishops trying to silence Bishop Robinson will argue they must protect the people in the pews (“the faithful”) from being scandalized.
I would suggest ordinary Catholics are scandalized allright – not by Bishop Robinson – but by the hierachical heavy-hitters who are tying to muzzle their brother.
Do you agree?