June 28th, from CNN.
"Pope Benedict XVI slapped down Cardinal Christoph Schonborn on Monday over comments earlier this year in which he was seen as criticizing a fellow cardinal.
Schonborn – the archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and a former student of the pope – had said that Cardinal Angelo Sodano had blocked an investigation of sexual abuse charges against a former archbishop of Vienna, according to the Catholic News Service. Sodano was the Vatican's secretary of state at the time."
The full article link can be found HERE.
This story wasn't something that made big headlines. In fact, I just happened to catch it on in a very small news brief on the last page of the Scranton Times sports section (you read that correctly...the Sports Section). So much for rabid anti-Catholic media, Scranton style.
Anyway, I have two questions related to this story.
Question 1: Is it the wrong for the Vatican to criticize one of it's own?
I think the answer is no. In a hierarchy there are always rules for relating to/with your peers, subordinates and superiors. When you live and work inside that hierarchy you have to respect those rules or there will be consequences. That's as true for the Vatican and it is for the U.S. Marine Corps. It's also true for me: I have a chain of command that I work within for my vocation, and if I violated the rules associated with it there would be consequences.
Question 2: Is there a larger moral issue at play here?
Yes. Even in a very hierarchical organization like the U.S. military, there are instances where things like rules and orders can...and should...be disobeyed. In fact, according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (articles 90 to 92...you can read a summary HERE), a member of the military is required to disobey unlawful orders or face prosecution. Now let's up the ante just a bit and consider what Cardinal Schonborn was reprimanded for criticizing, namely the actions of another Cardinal who actively blocked the investigation of sexual abuse charges. I am not a Priest or a religious scholar of any sort...a point that has been repeatedly documented here...but in my Catholic high school educated brain I could make the case that Cardinal Schonborn had a moral obligation to criticize the actions of another, regardless of their title, if those actions ran counter to the teachings of the Church. In essence, wasn't Cardinal Schonborn actually defending the faith by criticizing the actions of another?
It seems to me that Cardinal Schonborn violated the rules in order to support a greater moral obligation. That's not something that should be criticized, rather it should be celebrated.