ROME — Bishops certainly have had bad weeks before. One thinks, for example, of the unfortunate late Cardinal Michele Giordano of Naples, who, when it was announced in 1999 that he was under investigation for a Ponzi scheme run by his brother with archdiocesan funds, gave an interview in which he insisted he couldn’t be complicit because he wasn’t smart enough to understand what was going on.
In the annals of such bad weeks, however, a special place now must be reserved for Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, France, who, in one seven-day span, has managed to infuriate both victims of clerical sexual abuse and faithful Catholics most inclined to defend the Church when it’s under attack.
After having apologized for his “clumsy” wording a week ago in which he appeared to assert that the seal of the confessional was above the laws of the French Republic, Archbishop de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, now has sparked outrage in Catholic circles after headlines around the world Wednesday reported he said child protection actually overrides the secrecy of the confessional.
“The scope of the violence and sexual assaults against minors revealed by the report demands that the Church revise its practices in light of this reality,” he said. “It is therefore necessary to reconcile the nature of confession with the need to protect children.”
In all honesty, the archbishop probably didn’t intend to give rise to either…