Putting the papal house in order

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Ross Douthat, NYT’s thus far underperforming young conservative columnist, has the bright thought today that what’s really going on with the pope’s new Anglican Ordinariate is a marshaling of troops against the threat of global Islam. How many divisions does the pope have? Stalin once asked. To deal with le défi islamique, a new Anglican division, would be the pope’s answer. Oh yes, and also a new Lefebvrist division, if he can somehow manage to convince the SSPX folks to, like, give up their scruples about Vatican II, the Jews, etc. etc.

Meanwhile, however, you wonder what Benedict plans to do about one of his oldest and most loyal divisions, the Church in Ireland, which is in the process of total meltdown thanks to last June’s Ryan Report. That document laid out a story of systemic physical and sexual abuse in the industrial schools and reformatories run by the Christian Brothers and 16 other religious orders that makes the American pedophile cover-up scandal look like lifting a few bucks from the collection plate. This week will bring what is anticipated to be a no less horrific report on abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin. The pope is said to be shocked.

Yes, yes, Benedict earned some plaudits for meeting with some victims of sexual abuse when he visited the U.S. last year. But so far, there’s no indication that the Vatican is planning to bring the hammer down on those responsible for the Irish disaster. Instead of, say, terminating the Christian Brothers, the Vatican is busy investigating the beliefs and practices of the dwindling number of American nuns, whose main sins seem to be not wearing habits and thinking for themselves. Maybe that will advance the anti-Muslim crusade too.