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Sunday, June 15, 2003

The American episcopate can breathe a little easier now.

The most dogged critic on the "National Review Board", former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, is stepping down. You can now start hurling derisive laughter at the NRB, whose transition from semi-alert watchdog to narcoleptic lapdog will occur shortly after Keating resigns.

Keating roiled the waters this week after bluntly noting the obvious: that many bishops, namely Roger Cardinal Mahony of L.A., are dissembling backpedalers on the abuse issue, and have "clay feet." The L.A. Times (and, ominously, the L.A. District Attorney) agreed with the "clay feet" assessment of His Eminence in Malibu.

But then Governor Keating went so far as to compare them to the Mafia. OK, a little crude. Perhaps.

But just how wrong was it, anyway? Let's see, we had/have a scenario involving a byzantine, secretive institution. Protection of the institution and its "made men" were Jobs 1 through Infinity. Add to this a code of silence, punishment of those who "ratted out" fellow made men...ah, there are certainly valid grounds for comparison, aren't there? Methinks the episcopal squawking indicated that the barb hit pretty close to home.

The squawking also demonstrated that the Governor was not behaving like the good lay window dressing he was appointed to be. But the good news (well, for them) is that they won't have to worry about barbs from angry laymen like Keating anymore. The compromised likes of Bob Bennett, Leon Panetta, et al, have shown no indication that they will offer the bishops anything other than prominent nameplates and cover. In other words, the ability to say that They Are Concerned And Doing Something About It.

Back to business as usual.

Still, Keating probably should have used a less-controversial, but equally-valid description pulled directly from the Church's history.

"A bunch of Borgia popes without the tiaras" fits even better.

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