If I have the Maciel story right, he was given a rather mild punishment, sort of a quiet retirement with no heavy lifting, at the very end of his life, for unspeakably bad behavior, with no resolution of whether he actually did anything bad. What in the world is going on here?
(1) We couldn’t figure out whether he did it for decades, but now we’re finally sure, and he’s a frail old man, and he’s our old man, and the kids were in another country, and nobody died.
(2) We’re still not sure, so we’ll give him a mild punishment. I think it would almost make more sense to roll a die and (if the odds are 2:1 for innocence) put him in a dungeon if it comes up 1 or 2, otherwise nothing. This has a sort of lunatic logic: everybody who’s accused gets some jail time, a lot if the state has a strong case, a few weeks if it’s just an uncorroborated accusation from an ex-spouse? Should we try this?
(3) We know he treated those kids badly, but we’re not sure if it was gross sexual abuse or maybe just too-harsh criticism when their altarboy robes were dirty for mass, so we’ll assume the latter category of offense.
(4) The Vatican’s administrative, investigational, and justice systems are in a state of complete moral and competency collapse. It’s who you know, and sucking up to a good umbrella of powerful protectors, that count: the sixteenth century is back or never went away.