When Cardinal Law stepped down on Friday, The New York Times headline said the resignation may well be just the start, quote, "as priests and laity challenge the hierarchy."
I hope so. I say that not as a Catholic; I am a Protestant. I do consider myself a religious person, but that, too, is irrelevant since we do not yet know if God shares the assessment.
So I speak only as an outsider who has spent a lifetime observing politicians and bureaucracies. But I speak as an outsider who loves the Church for its good works, for being the repository of learning during the Dark Ages and, along with those of the Jewish faith, for shaping the values upon which Western civilization is based.
Believer and non-believer alike, we are all the product of those values. The values remain true, and they have stood the test of the centuries. What has gone wrong here is what happens so often when bureaucracies become too large and there is no accountability.
Aging leaders have put their own survival ahead of their reason for being, and in the process, forgotten their own history. It was the Church bureaucracy's refusal to reform so long ago, after all, that brought about the Protestant movement.
People will seek God in many ways, but never in ways that put their children at risk.
Until the Church bureaucracy truly comes to terms with that, whatever the cost, and once again places its reason for being ahead of the survival of its leaders, the Church as an institution remains at risk.