How They Wield Power
I was away last week at a gathering of prominent Catholics worried about what is going on in the Church. Part of the discussion was about the commonality of bad practise among bishops. This can be observed across the global Church but the specific discussion revolved around the dynamics in the UK and the USA.
Since starting my blog I have noticed
1. They don't want us to know what's going on.
2. They do not feel accountable to us who fund their activities.
3. They absolutely have no regard for the Catholic faith whatsoever.
The majority of us simply are unaware of what is going on and how bad it is. Blissfully unaware. Those of us who are publicly critical are sometimes criticised by good lay people and clergy who perhaps find it almost impossible to believe the pope, a bishop, a priest or religious could abuse the trust we put in them and mislead us with regard to the faith -- let alone money or sexual abuse. Either that or they prefer to maintain the status quo.
Yet despite their continued incredulity, the evidence continues to stack up.
Good priests often do not know what is going on in their own dioceses, trusting their brother priests and their bishop despite the growing evidence of problems. Too busy with an enormous workload.
Individuals with particular agendas insidiously infiltrate key positions in dioceses and protect the status quo that has gifted them power and influence.
Lay Catholic businessmen are happy to go along, putting their hands in their pockets and feeling like they are doing the Lord's work when in reality their money is being diverted and syphoned off into any number of questionable directions. This is true on a diocesan level and on a global level.
I understand that much of this misguided trust is born of a vision of what we want things to be like. Of a laudable desire to see the best in people, an openness to trust. I realise it is difficult to see what's going on around you when your nose is pressed firmly to the grindstone. I know it is almost impossible to say anything when you are on the payroll, when your bishop or prominent fellow clergy would and do make your life hell. I get that it is easier to just shut up and play along, to say "well there's nothing I can do about it anyway". And look - it takes all types, some to pray and some to fight. It is not the attitude of a Father to be complicit with an evil that hurts your family, and I am a Father. I am sorry, but I do care and I do want to do something about it and the first thing I can see I can do is to tell the truth.
This is because I try not to be a hypocrite and I cannot defend and support an institution that protects abusers and breeds financial corruption.
Sitting with some experts from law enforcement at the meeting I alluded to at the beginning of this blog, I explained that far from some grand conspiracy, at least from my perspective, the bishops here in England and Wales seem so utterly inept and divided as to be practically ineffective at their mission and purpose and instead engage in meaningless platitudes and endless politiking. The answer came back that they are not organised in the way we perhaps expect them to be: some great dark strategy or plan. But rather (at least in America) it's more like the mob (this from someone who investigated the mob for years). They are as at war with each other as anything else, but like mob families, they all have dirt on each other and who has power is mostly about who has the most dirt. This of course makes more sense in the light of these recent revelations.
So there are two classic areas to focus on. Finances and sex.
To the first matter any one of us can look up their diocesan accounts at the Charities Commission and see the vast amounts of money that flow through them each year.
Arundel & Brighton £28.2M in 27.9M out
Birmingham £22.6M in £26.6M out
Cardiff £5.5M in £5.5M out (that's a neat trick!)
Clifton £10.8M in £11.5M out
Hexham & Newcastle £11.4M in £11.5M out
Liverpool £33.9M in £36.7M out
Nottingham £12.8M in £10.6M out
Salford £24M in £19.7M out (better close a few more churches John)
Hallam has failed to file its return!! Someone needs to sort that out pretty sharpish!
Lancaster £18M in £13M out
Brentwood £13.7M in £12.2M out
Southwark massively over budget with £29.5M in and £35M out
Westminster £54.5M in and £44.4M out
Anyway, you get the idea. These are vast sums of money. Of course I'm not so naive as to believe that there aren't lots of clever tricks to hide money in accounts. You only have to do a google search on any of the main dioceses to see how many sub-organisations exist which help funnel cash, and I'm not saying much of it isn't above board, but I do think it should be scrutinised. This year in my diocese the Yoof Service wants £600 per yoof to go on our annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, adults are less (why?). People in parishes will be expected to fork out for this and many do, happily, after all it is helping kids, right? Yet a quick search shows a single room for those dates £228 for the week in a hotel. Flights to Lourdes are £72 return at their cheapest. The Yoof Service will go on a coach via cross-channel ferry and stay two or three to a room. If you book for 200 or 400 (probably more likely how many are going) shouldn't it be cheaper not more expensive? Has anyone asked why it's so much? Again I'm not saying this example is a dodgy one, I'm just wondering if the pilgrimage makes money and where that money goes. Does anyone know? How many similar projects are there where there ends up being a kind of a slush fund?
Of course, in the USA they don't even have to make their accounts public!
How much longer will they have this much money to throw around? This is money that came from donations and even legacies all from Catholics who trusted their priests and bishops to build the Church. Are they building the Church? It mostly seems they are managing decline. The decline we are seeing has a huge financial dimension which, have no doubt, priests and bishops are very aware of, and very aware of their pension prospects. If there were Catholic groups who were offering to fill the clerical gaps, but might garner support for extra-diocesan structures, would that be beneficial to diocesan funds even if it were beneficial to the faith? Is selling off Churches one way to bolster the pension pot?
There should be no worries here, it should be our pleasure to care for the men who have sacrificed so much for our spiritual care. But how many of us have now been hurt, or scorned, or spurned or ignored or abused or have gotten too close to the machine and seen the dirt within?
Too many of the movers and shakers have public scandal surrounding them. Priests in prominent positions who I know have chatted up men I know in bars. Priests who are known to be a bit too friendly/ touchy with young boys. Priests who push positions which oppose doctrine.
Not many men go to Mass any more in England and that's probably resulted in it being easier for this sort of thing to go on. When men care about something and communicate with each other, action tends to follow. And that would mean that these nefarious characters would not be allowed the space to practice. You can see how the feminisation of the Catholic Church has aided this transition.
Where you have a weak bishop, men with an agenda creep into power and start to assert themselves. They're not even very subtle about it. But there's no one to question them so why should they be? Some say we need to fight from the inside of these organisations, but my experience is that authentic Catholicism is so toxic to the power structures of these organisations that a faithful Catholic will either not be admitted or soon ejected once their orthodoxy is discovered. Meanwhile those who rise to positions of influence are those prepared to "be reasonable" to "turn a blind eye", to "recognise the realities of the situation", to compromise in other words.
Even if you don't know what's going on in your own diocese, you only really need to look as far as Rome to see a perfect model of the kind of thing I am talking about.
Pope Francis has an extraordinary track record of promoting perverts to positions of power. Does he know they're perverts?? Of course he does! That's why he promotes them, because then he has power over them! He has the dirt on them and can manipulate them.
The list is huge and constantly reported on. It's not a secret, yet no one appears to care.
Zanchetta, Paglia, Coccopalmerio, James Martin, Thomas Rosica, Cardinal "nighty-night baby" Tobin, McCarrick, Ricca, Barros, Farrell, it goes on and on and reveals a pattern of promoting perverts.
A new papal appointment is perhaps the most shocking yet and it reveals much of Pope Francis' strategy.
Who better to explain what is going on than Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò? The heroic Archbishop's latest missive, confronts the Pope’s “devious strategy” to bring about “reform that is irreversible”; reform that cannot be undone by future popes. This latest “masterful deception” will see to it that Cardinals made in the image and likeness of Francis will exercise considerable power and influence over the next conclave. In fact, the Dean of the College of Cardinals will be the former right-hand man of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, accused of covering for the most notorious clerical sexual predator of the 20th Century: Legionary of Christ founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel.
Why would Francis promote someone connected to the orchestrated cover-up of the worst priest predator in history?
As former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Viganò is in a position to know the players, the past cover-ups and the modus operandi behind this Machiavellian coup d’eglise, and I am confident the Vatican has considerable cause for concern over this damning testimony.
Interesting to see what Henry Sire, author of The Dictator Pope made of the appointment:
2) ... and his view of him is shown by the comment he made to Bishop Justo Laguna of Morón at the time of the 2005 Conclave: “You'd better pray to St Joseph that this man doesn't become pope.” To this day, Sandri declares in private that Bergoglio is unbalanced...— Dictator Pope official site (@DictatorPope) February 1, 2020
The Catholic Church does not belong to the predators, to the cut throats and villains, it belongs to Jesus Christ. Let's work together to take it back.3) ... The fact that he has agreed to become the Pope's fixer for the next Conclave shows how the Catholic Church has become a regime of political cynics after the Argentinian model.— Dictator Pope official site (@DictatorPope) February 1, 2020