We need new rules on dissenting priests and bishops

As reported in a post yesterday, the Vatican has issued new and more severe rules on dealing with priests who commit sexual abuse.  This is a welcome development for sure.  The episcopal conferences in many countries have also adopted special rules to deal with priest-predators.  This is all very good.

I think the time has come for the Church to implement a systematic investigation and discipline for clergy who obstinately and repeatedly defy Church teaching in public.

In saying this, I am not attempting to pass any judgment on whether one type of offense is more serious than the other.  I’m just saying that both of them are serious enough and do so much damage that they need to be dealt with on a priority basis.  There must be a sense of urgency as if the building was catching fire, because dissenting clergymen are killing the Church from the inside.  This has to stop.  Fast.

Notice how in some countries, a priest must be suspended from active ministry as soon as charges are brought against him.  Even though he is innocent until proven guilty, the Church is choosing to err on the side of caution and suspend him anyway.

But what about in the case of well-documented chronic dissent?  If rules exist for such cases, I haven’t heard about them, probably because nobody bothers to apply them.  That has to change.  We need to treat the scourge of dissent as an emergency situation that’s spreading like a cancer.  Leading Christ’s disciples astray is like committing theological rape on their souls.  So let’s act like we mean it.

For sure, the media would jump on such rules and portray them as a sort of witch-hunt or return to the Dark Ages (whatever that means).  But it needs to be done.  Tough rules on sexual abuse were relatively easy to implement, in that sense, because the secular media have been complaining (and rightfully so in some cases) about the Church’s inadequate handling of sex abuse cases.  But when it comes to dealing with dissent, you can expect the media to lash out like a wounded animal.  That shouldn’t stop us.

Enough of this wish-washy stuff that is costing the souls of countless Christians.

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