A recent editorial cartoon showed a clerical procession in which a mitred man is being preceded down a church aisle by two young altar boys. The cardinal is carrying a placard that reads, "Celibacy has nothing to do with pedophilia. " The scowling little altar boy who is leading the procession, however, is saying to his partner, "Oh, yeah? Well, if he were a father, I bet he wouldn't let anything happen to kids."
The message is clear: There are some things that may be clinically unrelated to the problem at hand but that definitely have a bearing on it. Surely, the role of women in the church is one of those. If the scandal points up anything at all, it begs for a review of the role of women in the decision-making arenas of the church, and the question of the ordination of women as well.
What the scandal highlights in the most glaring of ways is the total absence of women from the inner chambers of ecclesiastical discussion and procedural review. Would women have stood by quietly, said nothing, even agreed to a policy of moving clearly abusive men from parish to parish where they could jeopardize the lives of other children so that the system itself could be saved? The answer is unclear, perhaps, but the question is a necessary one.