Tarnished Angel

The more he talks, the more Wilton Gregory sounds like every other bishop in the Catholic Church

"An American CEO knows he can't just hunker down and ignore the media and ignore his constituents and think that a scandal will go away," says Clohessy.

Rigali's communications director, Jim Orso, says the image of an archbishop trying to remain above the fray is unjustified. Since April, Orso says, Rigali has met with priests and deacons throughout the 217-parish diocese to explain why priests were being removed and what the response to future sex-abuse allegations would be. In June, he held a meeting at St. Raymond's Maronite Church and asked every parish to send a representative.

"The archdiocese really does want to communicate to as many parishes and parishioners as possible on this issue," says Orso. "He's gotten the message out. He communicates it through the priests, which is the proper way to get the message out to the parishes."

Whenever somebody wanted a poster child for how to handle a scandal, they could point to Gregory. When they wanted just the opposite, there was Rigali. Orso says such comparisons are unfair.

"That's a tough comparison to make," Orso says. "Gregory is beholden to Catholics across the U.S. He's more out there as a public figure."

The chief knock on Rigali was one of image and the appearance that he was ignoring pleas for an open dialogue on this painful topic. The faithful seemed to long for that human touch. Until recently, they got it from Gregory. Last month, they got it from Archbishop Tim Dolan of Milwaukee, who was once Rigali's auxiliary bishop. Dolan held two sessions with victims of abuse. He opened with these simple words: "I cannot say 'I'm sorry' enough."

But this isn't where Bishop Wilton Gregory now finds himself. He's standing on far different ground these days.

No longer a maverick. No longer a pioneer.

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