The main solution - to an outside observer - would be, get rid of the celibacy requirement for priests. But, we have to respect that celibacy is a doctrinal issue and it's solely the purview of the Church to decide that. It is not appropriate for anyone, Catholic or non-Catholic alike, to opine on it. Only the Pope can change that and it's only the Pope's counsel as to whether it shoudl be changed. The issue of the Pope's age or apparent senility is irrelevant also - if you abide by Catholic doctrine, then the Pope's position and authority are divinely supported and influenced. Bottom line - discussion of the Celibacy issue is off-limits1.
So where does that leave us? The Pope issued a statement that makes me think he is not senile, but rather absolutely firmly in control of his faculties. Zero Tolerance. Yes, the Catholic Church faces a shortage of priests, yes that is pretty harsh on someone who may have made a youthful error, blah blah blah. But the Church is a moral construct first and foremost. Unlike this blog, The Church needn't and SHOULDN'T consider pragmatism in the same breath as principles. That's why we HAVE religion - to act as a moral compass. And an authority.
I am not surprised at all that the Cardinals inserted their "notoriety" reading into the Pope's pronouncement. After all, in their official statement to the US Bishops, they say:
We regret that episcopal oversight has not been able to preserve the Church from this scandal. The entire Church, the Bride of Christ, is afflicted by this wound - the victims and their families first of all, but also you who have dedicated your lives to "the priestly service of the Gospel of God" (Rom 15:16).
Note that they regret that the Church was not preserved from the scandal. While that seems like they are thinking of their beloved beauracracy first, note that they include the definition of Church in the next sentence to encompass the victims first and foremost. But it still feels like dodge of responsibility when I read it - and I'm sure they parsed the statement carefully before publishing it. Presumably, the statement "We regret that our refusal to take action caused the victims harm" had some elements in it that they objected to, and forced them to use the watered down version above that armchair analysts like myself must now make excuses for.
It is worth noting that the Bishops themselves have made a lot more strongly worded statements than the ones we have heard about in the media. Look at all the links from their Office of Communications. It's only fair and required reading before we demonize the Catholic Church or the Bishops as a whole.
I'm not sure what my point is. I guess there isn't one, aside from, I don't think things are worse than before. I honestly do think that things are better. Maybe not as good as they could be if they immediately adopted the Pope's pronouncement verbatim. Did we really expect the 2,000 year old Church to stop on a dime though? 2
1 No pedophile scandals in the Protestant Churches that I am aware of though. I'm sure God and the Pope already know this.
2 Well, ok, maybe yes I did. And I know the victims' families deserve that expectation.