Vatican Apocalypse Now
I have the utmost respect for those I know who are even now, fighting against abuse in the Church in "Catholic" countries. I often forget how different England and Wales are compared with Ireland and Malta, for example, which certainly do suffer from the kind of clericalism the Pope referred to in his open letter to the faithful. I am sure that the Pope's experience in South American tells a similar tale:
whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives. This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”. Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.Ireland is probably in its' post-clericalist state now, where the Church has no voice as a result of its' hypocrisy over decades. Despite that, my instincts are that the Pope's words are an attempt to ignore the clear source of the abuse crisis which, according to the reports conducted into it, is clearly a relationship to homosexual predation on post-pubescent boys. Indeed we see this trend repeated time and time again in study after study, year after year.
Notwithstanding this fundamental of the crisis, I do think the Pope is right in pointing to clericalism as well, because if the homosexual crisis provides the impetus or the direction to abuse; clericalism creates the environment where a priest/bishop/cardinal can get away with it. And as I posted here, I honestly believe that, if we are honest, each one of us has ignored a story of a dodgy cleric, or shrugged our shoulders when we have reported something and it has gone no further, or our concerns were criticised as gossip in a Church which has developed a new golden rule, fashioned a new golden calf: thou shalt not judge. We need to remember that we are called to holiness, and we shouldn't be considered unrealistic when we expect our clerics to model this.
Gossip has long been frowned on, we have seen how Pope Francis has indeed railed against it but when is it gossip and when is it something to genuinely be concerned with?
When the new Pope appoints Msgr Battista Ricca as his "eyes and ears" within the Vatican bank, a man alleged to have had a homosexual affair with a captain in the Swiss army, who was caught in a lift with a rent boy and beaten up in a gay bar?
When the Pope sacks all the members of the Vatican's Pro-Life academy, discontinues the pro-life pledge, and appoints a new list of members named that includes anti-life advocates?
When the Pope appoints a man President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Grand Chancellor of the St. John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family who paid a homosexual artist to paint a blasphemous homoerotic mural in his cathedral church in 2007? A mural which, shockingly, includes an image of the archbishop himself! (If that sort of arrogance doesn't equate to "clericalism" I don't know what does!!
If these aren't good enough, there is an extensive list.
Many, many Catholics have been appalled by this litany of anti-Catholicism. Many have been literally heart-broken by this papacy, many have just given up. If the lay people are fed up, just think how the good priests feel? Please do remember to pray for them! Those of us who have expressed concern have been largely rounded on by the mainstream. I have struggled with good friends who I trust as good Catholics who seem to have no problem with Pope Francis. His faith and direction are quite simply so different from what I understand to be Catholic I struggle to understand how anyone could be reconciled to his approach.
Now Archbishop Carlo Maria Vilano who served as apostolic nuncio to the United States from 2011-2016. Have given testimony on how Popes Francis and the Roman Curia covered up the abuse of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCormick.
The main thrust is that Pope Francis knew of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s abuse and nevertheless lifted sanctions that Pope Benedict had secretly imposed on McCormick. This is easy to confirm, just look at this article from the Fishwrap from 2014.
McCarrick is one of a number of senior churchmen who were more or less put out to pasture during the eight-year pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. But now Francis is pope, and prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper (another old friend of McCarrick's) and McCarrick himself are back in the mix and busier than ever.
McCarrick travels regularly to the Middle East and was in the Holy Land for Francis' visit in May. "The bad ones, they never die!" the pope teased McCarrick again when he saw him.
Pope Francis' quip doesn't look quite so amusing in the light of Archbishop Carlo Viganò’s testimony, does it? Rather, it looks extremely dark and menacing!
You can download the full document here. Those who have been waiting for someone to break ranks and tell the truth have a champion. And I do not think he is alone or without support. Indeed, in response to a LifeSite request for comment on the release of Archbishop Carlo Viganò’s testimony Cardinal Burke said:
“The declarations made by a prelate of the authority of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò must be totally taken to heart by those responsible in the Church. Each declaration must be subject to investigation, according to the Church’s time-tried procedural law.”
Moreover Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C., has said that the former nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, told “the truth” in his explosive statement (see this report from Ed Condon)
Papal tailgaters are viciously trying to turning this into an attack on Benedict XVI, but "The Register has independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the Pope Emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature." In other words, Benedict XVI responded to the McCarrick situation by removing him from public ministry. According to +Vigano, Pope Francis lifted those penalties and allowed McCarrick to travel, speak and have access to seminarians.
Fr Carlos Martins, a priest of Detroit diocese posted a comment on FB this morning which has been shared with me many, many times:
Viganò always had a reputation for being a combatant of internal Vatican corruption. In fact, during the Vatican leaks scandal, whistle-blowing reports that he authored were among the main documents that were leaked. This was an attempt by the persons he outed to pre-empt the report’s impact and suck the energy out of the attempt to investigate their claims. Naturally, the subsequent energy went into investigating the Vatileaks situation in general, and Viganò was exiled as Nuncio to the United States for being a trouble maker who produced “erroneous assessments” (words from a joint statement issued by Cardinal-President Emeritus Giovanni Lajolo, President Giuseppe Bertello, Secretary-General Giuseppe Sciacca and former Vice Secretary-General Giorgio Corbellini on behalf of the Governatorate of the Vatican). To put this kind of demotion in perspective, as Delegate for Pontifical Representations—a position from which he was THEN PROMOTED to Secretary General of the Governatorate— Viganò was in charge of all the Apostolic Nunciatures in the world. Thus, when garbage was reported to the Holy See on a bishop or Cardinal—like it was with McCarrick of Washington, DC—Viganò was the first to know about it, because his desk is where the information landed. For him to be demoted as the Nuncio to the USA, from having been promoted to as the Vatican’s number 3 administrator behind the pope, was severe, to say the least. In other words, Viganò is not a hack, but a highly respected individual who had been regularly promoted for doing his job well.
In the words of the Curial official I spoke with this afternoon, what Viganò has reported “makes the Borgia popes look like saints.” The feeling in the Curia right now is that the response of Viganò’s enemies will to try to discredit him personally, both because of the impeccability of Viganò’s character and the impossibility of his having interpreted the facts incorrectly. Their only hope will be to try to take energy away from the perversion and corruption that he uncovered. They will likely state that he is a bitter man who is seeking personal aggrandizement after having been exiled from Rome. When this occurs, don’t buy into it. Viganò is retired. He has nothing personally to gain from this.
How has the Pope responded to all this? He has stonewalled.
If you're anything like me, you probably feel like Frodo and Gandalf right now:
If you're anything like me, you probably feel like Frodo and Gandalf right now:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”