Mark Shea in the past has posted that we get the bishops we deserve and he recently posted a quote from Scott Hahn:
“God’s wrath, throughout history, basically means giving us what we want.”
I can understand how this well might be true. When looking at the current scandals in the Church we see that some priests were moved around from parish to parish when it was known that they were fallen from their priestly vows. I would really doubt that Bishops moved these priests around because they wanted to cause scandal or to victimize parishioners so there obviously were other reasons.
1. God’s grace and forgiveness and the ability to transform people is something Christians believe wholeheartedly and I can understand that with a seemingly repentant priest that a Bishop would take this in to account.
2. The science of psychology also played a factor where bishops relied on their diagnosis of fallen priests who had supposedly been rehabilitated, this also plays back on the first item. (See update at bottom)
3. Another factor I believe is the pressure of the shortage of priests. If there had been a large pool of priests available, would the Bishops then have acted more prudently and decided not to move these priest around. Would they have been less influenced by item 2 and have seen item 1 in it correct proportion as compared to protecting the laity?
This is where I believe the laity is complicit. I think the number one factor to the priestly shortage is the contraceptive attitude in Catholic families. Smaller families usually don’t encourage vocations to priestly or religious life because of the desire of grandchildren. There is a selfishness in the desire to control family size so as to have more material gains. A larger family in and of itself is not the goal but the attitude of openess to life. The majority of Catholics practice some form of birth control which means that that same majority also receive communion. Since contraception is a grave sin they are in effect committing a “Real Sacrilege”. The Catholic encyclopedia defines this as:
Real Sacrilege. Real sacrilege is the irreverent treatment of sacred things as distinguished from places and persons. This can happen first of all by the administration or reception of the sacraments (or in the case of the Holy Eucharist by celebration) in the state of mortal sin, as also by advertently doing any of those things invalidly.
The culture of dissent which mainly started against the Churches teaching on contraception has bore its rotten fruit. Many Catholic don’t understand or believe that contraception is a grave sin so they might not be a culpable as to the level of mortal sin, but regardless this is a blight on the church that has blurred many eyes to the truth.
I can well understand the resistance to larger families that happens in our society. Before my conversion I was a card-carrying member of the culture of death. After the birth of our second child I went and had a vasectomy some 20 years ago. Even though I love our children I was selfish and indoctrinated in relation to family size. The seventies were loaded with doom and population bomb thinking. I did not believe in God but I believed in replacement levels for a population equilibrium. I thought well we have two children, one boy and one girl – a matched set and I have bagged my quota. People talk of trophy wives and I think our society views children as either trophies or something you should have just as long as they are not too many of them, especially since they consume resources better spent on yourself. There was absolutely nothing coming from society saying I should question my decision or that there was any ethical dimension to this. In a distorted way I also thought that by getting a vasectomy that I was showing commitment to my wife by showing that I only planned to have children by her and that I was saving her from having to get an operation or to take the pill. While I have done much that has weighed down on my soul, the consequences of this act of self-multilation weighs the heaviest.
With Catholics getting divorced and remarried at roughly the same rate as non-Catholics and with Catholics in general not being open to life then why should we be surprised at the priests and then bishops this culture can generate. We expect to go on living highly secular lives and to do what we please and define our own truths and then also to expect holy priests and bishops. There is a saying that “Holy priests make holy people and that holy people make holy priests. The real surprise is not that there are some bad bishops, but that despite the lack of faithfulness that we have so many good bishops.
Update: I updated point two since I was hasty and used an overly broad brush on psychology. I stand corrected and defer to Gregory Popcak‘s statement he made in the comments. That clericalism was also tied up in some of these treatment centers which were run by clergy.