The challenges faced by bishops, Garvey observed, are the same as those faced by the heads of most major organizations, and he suggested that practical lessons readily presented themselves.
In the face of the sexual abuse crisis, "the Church is not the first or the only organization to confront the problem, nor are bishops the only professionals concerned with rooting it out," Garvey said. Instead, there is a wealth of experience available from parents, lawyers, and other experts on which the Church could draw; the question was how best to do it.
Practical and structural proposals to create new, lay-led oversight or reporting structures for bishops are an idea, Garvey said, but need to be considered with an understanding of the Church.
Garvey noted the temptation to offer reforms that mirror the democratic separation of powers and system of checks and balances, something out of step with the Church's existence as a hierarchy under the guidance of the bishops and the Holy Father.
"I think it would be helpful if we set to one side the notions of power and authority, and the use of constitutional metaphors," Garvey suggested. Instead, he proposed considering the relationship of a bishop to the faithful as a marriage, noting the exchange of consent and a ring in episcopal consecration.
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Offering examples from his own decades of marriage, Garvey noted that "a necessary rule in marriage is that you have to be completely honest and transparent with your spouse."
"Without trust you cannot build a relationship, and that is what we have lost," he said, citing the McCarrick scandal and the widespread suspicion of the faithful that other bishops knew about his alleged crimes.
"Bishops must be transparent and accountable to their flocks, as husbands and wives must be transparent and acknowledge one another. Talking about authority in this relationship is a kind of category mistake, we are obliged to one another by love."