This week we learned that the Pope will not accept the resignation of two Irish auxiliary bishops, Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field. The Murphy Report in 2009 implicated them in the larger failures of the Irish hierarchy to respond to sexual abuse by priest.
John Allen at the National Catholic Reporter offers an explanation why the Vatican is keeping these two bishops in their positions.
There’s no insider information, but rather a superb discussion of the reasons why Rome is generally loathe to let men step aside. He gives a number of reasons, each well explained. The fourth and final reason:
Fourth, and perhaps most fundamentally, the Vatican does not like the idea of a bishop resigning for poor performance because, in their view, it’s bad theology. As they see it, a bishop isn’t a corporate CEO or a football coach, who should be sacked when profits sag or the team goes on a losing streak. The episcopacy isn’t a job but a sacramental bond akin to marriage, with the bishop as the father of the diocesan family. In the early centuries of the church, it was considered almost heretical for a bishop to move from one diocese to another on precisely this basis.
Yes, a bishop is not a corporate CEO. It’s a very important point, obvious really. But easy to forget when the mainstream media applies the BP oil spill model to the scandals currently demoralizing the Catholic Church.