For some time now I have felt very sorry for my various Catholic friends at the way they have been let down by the hierarchy of the Catholic church over the issue of child abuse. It's not the fact of abuse, it's the way the church has reacted, and continues to react. They continue to keep secrets and to say anything they can that will get them off the hook without them recognising that things really have to change.
They reached the pits, I think, with the Pope's preacher saying that the abuse the Pope had received over this was akin to the collective violence suffered by the Jews. He obviously doesn't do much arguing, or he would know that the first rule of arguments is that whoever compares the other side to Nazis has by definition lost the argument. But, that aside, it indicates just how far the hierarchy of the Catholic church has strayed from the message of Christ.
I am myself a staunch Anglican, and yesterday I was happy for a few hours when I read of Rowan Williams' words to the Catholics. He said the church in Ireland "has lost "all credibility" because of its poor handling of the scandal of paedophile priests [and] the child sex abuse scandal that has engulfed the Catholic church had been a "colossal trauma" for Ireland in particular."
I thought briefly maybe we have the best archbishop I have known in my lifetime, one who is prepared to speak the truth in love. He was prepared to say to his peers in the Catholic church that they need to travel miles and they have hardly been prepared to budge an inch. And heaven knows they're not listening to anybody else. Every step they have taken has been forced out of them by public opinion.
And then he went and apologised. And blew all that good work out of the window. And the Catholic church hierarchy go on in the same old way. They are not going to be "swayed by 'petty gossip' about child sex-abuse allegations". Only a Catholic cardinal could call well founded questions about the role the Pope himself played in covering up these scandals "petty gossip".
And the good old Anglican church is back to faith, hope and niceness, and the greatest of these is niceness. Jesus must be weeping.