Speaking Without Words


In the Holy Smoke podcast last week, seasoned UK journalist Damian Thompson analysed the Vatican's attempt to silence the USCCB criticism of newly elected President Joe Biden, which I first wrote about here. This is well worth a listen:


I think the first thing to say is that it is obvious that this situation has only arisen because the USCCB did not point out these problems with Biden prior to the election.

To me this lack of action sums up the lack of potency in the Church at the moment which means we are paying lip service only to the Gospel: it says to Catholics all over the world that doctrine doesn't matter - that you don't need to follow Catholic teaching - that no rules apply - that the Church could be "wrong" on these fundamental issues of life - that secular society has a point about killing unborn children being a good thing. This is antithetical to Catholic teaching, and, because it is so obviously antithetical, it requires regular, firm & loud denouncement.

Thompson points out the important links in the US hierarchy with disgraced ex-Cardinal abuser Theodore McCarrick but I think he gets it wrong about Tobin, suggesting he is not a liberal. He also suggests that, unlike Tobin & Farrell, Cupich is not connected to McCarrick and makes a rather glib reference to McCarrick's choice bishops being overtly homosexual. However I don't think Farrell or Tobin are particular overtly "queenish". And Cupich is connected. He was at the nunciature in the US. McCarrick was well known as "a Washington power broker who participated in funeral masses for political luminaries like Edward M. Kennedy, the longtime Massachusetts senator, and Beau Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr." source.

Thompson does make an important connection with Maradiaga who has rakes of dirt following him around. Christopher Manion, former staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, was involved in the nunciature when Cupich worked there and notes:
Central America was always on the policy agenda, and I traveled there often. Each time, I made it a point to speak with every religious group I could find. Early on, I was surprised to discover that I was the only American official who had met every bishop in El Salvador. The visits were sometimes difficult, but worth it.
Could this be where Cupich first forged bonds with Maradiaga?

This weekend, Cupich was seen in Rome & the Vatican made public that he met with Pope Francis. As Thompson remarks in the podcast, this does not necessarily mean what you might think it means: "Those who live by Bergoglio, die by Bergoglio" - meaning that if you're close to this Pope one minute, you can easily find yourself completely out of favour the next!

On the most obvious level, this looks like Papal support for Cupich. Thompson speculates that this may just as likely be the Pope giving Cupich a rebuke, unhappy with his public admonishment of Gomez.

Despite the fact that, in the twitter tirade which begins with the about tweet, Cupich alleged that Gomez’ statement was “ill-considered,” produced with insufficient consultation, and evidence of unspecified “internal institutional failures” at the USCCB. In fact, this was demonstrated to be untrue, the consultations required by USCCB policy took place before the Gomez statement was released. But regardless, Cupich made clear that he is not happy, and that he does not intend to let the matter rest. The next thing we know, he is being received by the Pope. Some commentators have suggested that Cupich’s pledge to clean up after “institutional failures” at the conference suggests the cardinal is looking for ways to exercise more personal influence at the USCCB, which means curtailing other influencers. However, I'm not sure how he might accomplish this because, as reported in The Pillar to date, not one U.S. bishop has publicly supported Cupich’s shot at the Gomez statement or the process that produced it. Not one of the bishops generally thought to be aligned on matters of policy with Cupich has commented on his statement, while numerous bishops have issued statements of support for Gomez. The Pillar article continues:

"In 2017, Cupich lost an election for chair of the conference’s important pro-life committee by only 14 votes. Some observers suggested that the cardinal was building a coalition of bishops who would support him in an eventual bid for leadership of the conference, and that his showing in that committee race, even while he didn’t win, was evidence of a conference divided between bishops of different worldviews, points of emphasis, or theological approaches.

But less than four years later, that suggestion no longer seems to hold. When the cardinal would seem most to need public signs of support from his brother bishops, he has not yet found any.

Of course, there is a perception that even if Cupich is unpopular among his brother bishops in the U.S., he is well-liked in Rome and a favorite of Pope Francis. There is some evidence that is true, including the oft-repeated story that Cupich was personally chosen by Francis for the Archdiocese of Chicago, and was not on the candidate list prepared in the ordinary process.

This week, numerous bishops have speculated to The Pillar that Cupich’s frustration was a critical factor in the Holy See’s decision to intervene before Gomez’ statement was released, with an attempt first to shelve it, and then to delay it.

But if Cupich is the cause of the Holy See’s intervention, his stock in Rome has likely declined after the embarrassment of public reporting about the intervention, and then the statement’s eventual release. If Cupich was relying on favor in Rome to exercise influence in the U.S. bishops’ conference — as he is believed to have done in the wake of the McCarrick scandal — it seems that after this week, he will have fewer chips to play, at the time he needs them most.

When Cardinal Cupich took out his phone Wednesday, and decided to challenge openly the bishops’ conference president, he may have thought it the moment at which to take a stand. But before posting the tweet thread he might now regret, he may not have expected to find himself standing alone."

Now, I would love to think Cupich was in Rome to receive a rebuke, but it seems highly unlikely to me, especially as the Vatican chose to publicise the engagement and Cupich did not mention it.

John Allen at Crux, which now appears to have become simply a promotional tool for this pontificate rather than a serious news source, wrote this abysmal assessment of the meeting. It suggests the obvious: that:

it’s been difficult for most observers not to interpret the meeting with the pope as a show of support by Francis for Cupich in the dispute with Gomez, and thus, more broadly, for a more positive approach to the new Biden administration.

If this is the case, what message is the Pope conveying? That one can be "devoutly Catholic" and actively promote abortion & contraception? If so, that is deeply antithetical to Catholicism, isn't it? If it isn't, I don't know what I am talking about or what I believe in anymore.

In the same article, Allen unbelievably takes a swipe at Cardinal Zen who has been snubbed by Pope Francis on numerous occasions:

When retired Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong recently came to Rome looking for papal support for his hawkish line on China, for example, he went home without having seen the boss.

 This is really quite extraordinary and without justification. Given the Vatican's lack of condemnation for Chinese human rights abuses, and it's continued dealings with the CCP, it is hard to justify why Pope Francis would not listen to the Cardinal best placed to advise him on the situation. Does refusing Zen an audience look like a Pope who cares about the people he shepherds?

This week Pope Francis asked arguably the church's most senior canon lawyers “How can one explain to children that their mother, abandoned by their father and not willing to establish another marriage bond, receives the Sunday Eucharist with them, while their father, cohabiting, cannot participate in the Eucharistic table?”

One would imagine it fairly obvious that such a gathering would be due some precision from the Supreme Legislator. As a Canon Lawyer of my acquaintance noted:
It seems, sadly, another example of a shepherd failing to tend his flock. I have another question, though, in that same frame:
"What does one say to a child whose mother who, whilst seeking to regularise a union, does not receive Holy Communion, when the father, who is in an irregular second union, receives Holy Communion weekly?" Perhaps the answer is that, for the good of souls, the law of God and His Church should be applied equity and uniformity.

Also, the Pope's destruction & dismantling of the John Paul II institute for Marriage & Family was laid bare after its Facebook page defended Joe Biden’s support of legal abortion.

I am so weary with all this. There's no more defending Pope Francis and the evil men in Rome who's clear agenda is to subvert the faith and the mission of the Church. The scandals and lies and controversy mount daily, and then you've got glib idiots like Austen Ivereigh and John Allen making out like the Pope is playing some masterful political game. Catholic doctrine is something that can present the faithful with great challenges that they struggle to live up to and effects every facet of their lives. Doctrine is not a toy to be played with at the whim of one man. A man who seems to have no understanding of the dignity and importance of his office and what he says and does. It is a scandalous disgrace that cries out to heaven!

Lord preserve us!


 

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