Pope Francis on Monday accepted the resignation of two United States bishops on Monday, 10 days after a Minnesota prosecutor filed criminal charges against their diocese for failing to protect children from a sexually abusive priest.
Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and one of his deputies, auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche, resigned over their links to Curtis Wehmeyer.
Wehmeyer, who has been dismissed from the priesthood, is serving a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2012 to criminal sexual conduct with two minors and possessing child pornography.
The pontiff accepted the resignations the week after approving an unprecedented Vatican tribunal intended to judge bishops for covering up or failing to report sexual abuse, which has caused worldwide scandal for more than a decade.
Pope Francis should be applauded for taking the bull by the horns. He has demonstrated that where there is a will to do good, there always is a way to do it.
Christianity is suffering from abuse and loads of pastoral impropriety around the world. But it is a good thing that the first church – The Catholic Church – is now taking baby steps towards redressing the shame of sexual abuse amongst ordained priests (and from what I hear, the church should also beam its investigation light on erring nuns).
The church in Nigeria must also be called to order. For whatever it is worth, Pastor Ayo Oritshejafor who doubles as presiding bishop over the Christian Association of Nigeria and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria should have resigned over the astounding news of his private jet being impounded in South Africa for ferrying illegal arm dealers who were accused of money laundering.
If he had resigned, it would not have been an indictment, it would have been applauded by the world as a protection of his integrity. But Nigerians are not yet known for taking such steps. We hold on to everything like it is a birthright.
Until church leaders willingly take responsibility for the misdemeanor and mishaps that occur under their watch, even the Church cannot help bring about change in our national psyche as effectively as it should.
I believe God expects the Church to constantly enforce spiritual sanitation amongst its ranks for humans are not perfect; we all need to be goaded towards perfection.