Daily links, Tues., Nov. 8, 2011: Boston Bernard's birthday bash and other things to turn your stomach

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Giving new shades of meaning to the word "inappropriate," Cardinal Bernard Law, formerly of Boston and now ensconced in one of Rome's four major basilicas, threw himself a lavish 80th birthday party attended by numerous Vatican luminaries: "“Of course, he threw the party himself," send the former vicar general of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, according to the Boston Herald. Who else would throw him a party?

Surely not Joe Paterno, soon-to-be former head football coach at Penn State University, after his failure to report suspicions of child sex abuse by his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The Penn State case proves the point that the sexual assault of chidren is a problem that exists outside the Roman Catholic Church.

The difference? Paterno, the practical pope of State College, Pa., is likely getting his walking papers--along with several other major players at the university--while bishop after bishop who knew equally damning information about child rapists still has his job. Bishops may reconsider their legal safety in that perch, with a first-of-its-kind ruling in England that recognizes an employer-employee relationship between a diocesan bishop and a local pastor.

Signs are, however, that many bishops never quite got "it" when it comes to sex abuse: NCR covers retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton's account of his testimony before the Ohio legislature on relaxing the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases. Within 10 days of his testimony, as Gumbleton tells it, he was forced to resign not only from episcopal office but from his parish pastorate as well--including being kicked out of his home. (Who says the church can't move fast?) Seems he violated something called the "communio episcoporum." Not sure what that is, but if telling the truth about your own experience of being a victim of sex abuse by a priest violates it, good on Gumbleton.

Sorry for the rant, folks--just one of those days.