The second paragraph in a Times story today about the Catholic bishops’ deliberations on the threatened war with Iraq was innocently ironic:
This is the kind of global concern that used to preoccupy the bishops before this year, when the church was overwhelmed by the scandal over some bishops’ failure to discipline priests who had sexually abused children and teenagers.
So the “global politics” dodge for pastors who find dealing with their own responsibilities too troublesome has run out. Bishop Gumbleton complains, “we have become more and more wary about standing up to the government,” as if bishops ran a risk in doing so remotely comparable to the risks they would run if they tried to rule their dioceses properly. If you avoid basic issues though they don’t go away, they get worse and you’re stuck with them anyway.