From a book review in Christian Century by Jason Byassee, of Eamon Duffy’s Faith of Our Fathers: Reflections on Catholic Tradition:
… Part of the problem [with the scandals in the Catholic Church], he explains, is that the church has nourished an expectation that its priests be sinless, above the fray, innocent. Medieval Christians saw it differently.
Prior to the Counter-Reformation, when future priests were removed from their homes and raised in seminaries to be “set apart” and perfect, the church was “profoundly Augustinian,” expecting its priests to sin like anyone else ….
With the church’s marginalization in modernity …. [w]hat we have now, he says, is a Donatist church stocked with reputedly perfect people, rather than an Augustinian one in which leaders are expected not only to sin, but also to repent openly and grow toward holiness.
That brought to mind a line from Herman Wouk’s World War II novel The Caine Mutiny, in which a reserve officer stationed aboard the USS Caine cynically describes the Navy’s practices as “a system designed by geniuses for execution by idiots.” The remark is an unwarranted calumny, but it has a kernel of truth to it: Good systems are designed to anticipate the human weaknesses of their operators, and to allow them to get the job done anyway. Duffy seems to agree.