Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Hume Rebuttal

In the wake of my post this morning on some reflections offered by the late Cardinal Basil Hume of Westminster, I received an e.mail calling his legacy into question vis a vis Hume's handling of cases of sex abuse by clergy.

Such clarifications of the record, especially those which deal with an issue as traumatic and devastating as the epidemic of abuse, are necessary to put things in their proper light and achieve the purification both of memory and history for purposes of a more fruitful future.

In its entirety below is the opening statement of the e.mail.
After coming across your laudatory comments on the late Cardinal Hume on your blog 'Whispers in the Loggia', I thought you might have taken into account his tolerance of sexual abuse, described in the articles below. This tolerance was of a piece with his pastoral approach generally. Attendance at Mass in the Catholic Church in England and Wales fell markedly during his time as Cardinal (by 14% in the 1980s, 28% in the 1990s; Hume was appointed in 1976 and died in 1999). This fall was largely the result of the faith not being passed on to the next generation (figures for those aged 65 and over in the Catholic Church in 1979, 1989, and 1999 were 13 percent, 16 percent, and 22 percent). Hume not only did not do anything about this problem, he refused to admit that there was a problem; perhaps partly becasue he was typical of his generation of upper-class Englishmen in thinking of leadership as consisting in managing decline. Hume was a charming man who knew how to say the right thing to the right audience, but as a bishop and a Christian he was a failure. (Covering up the sexual abuse of boys makes you a failure as a Christian.)