Accountability and Another Catholic Scandal

National Catholic Reporter, January 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

Accountability and Another Catholic Scandal


The abrupt resignation of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus as head of the Warsaw archdiocese in the wake of disclosures about his collaboration with security forces during the communist era will probably be lumped in the popular imagination under the heading "another Catholic scandal."

There would be more than a little justification for doing so. For the common theme running through the sex abuse scandal, recent tales of financial shenanigans and now the revelations of communist-era collaboration can be reduced to one word: accountability.

It is time for the church to think seriously of establishing truth commissions made up of respected experts to compile the facts and present a narrative to the community about what happened in each of these arenas.

No one should suggest that any of the story lines is a simple matter. Sexual abuse of children is a society-wide malady, its causes mysterious and often residing deep in the human psyche and an individual's experience.

The theft of millions from parish and diocesan funds--a recent study showed that 85 percent of U.S. dioceses report embezzlement of funds--may be easier to understand. Greed is common, and even the best can succumb to temptation.

And who knows what any of us would have done if we had lived in Poland during the communist era? We'd all love to think ourselves heroes, but it is easy to imagine converting to moral relativism in the face of danger. It appears Wielgus violated church norms regarding contact with Polish security forces during that time. But neither church nor society will know the truth until the full record is read.

The day after Wielgus resigned, the rector of Krakow's Wawel Cathedral, Fr. Janusz Bielanski, resigned after charges that he, too, had collaborated with the communists.

By all accounts, church leaders knew more than a little about the extent of collaboration, and they've known it for some time. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, before his election as Pope John Paul II, apparently made conscious decisions to keep a lid on the information.

Anyone who thinks the record of church collaboration during the communist era in Poland will remain secret is dealing in fantasy. "I think the question facing the Polish church now," said NCR senior correspondent John L. Allen Jr. during a recent interview on the "Lehrer News Hour," "is whether [disclosure] will happen on its timetable, in a responsible fashion, or whether you will simply continue to follow this cycle of one bomb going off after another, which ultimately could have enormously negative consequences for the credibility and for the internal life of the church in Poland."

The same could certainly be said of the situation in the United States. Church authorities in Poland need only look at the leadership of the U.S. church and its role in the sex abuse scandal to understand that covering up can lead to disastrous consequences.

Catholics understand sin. They understand how to forgive it and how to reconcile with sinners and welcome them back fully into the fold. We do it regularly in our sacramental and communal life. We are taught from childhood to understand that we are all sinners and that, reflecting the activity of God, we are called to confess and forgive. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Accountability and Another Catholic Scandal
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.