My final word on Weakland

People are asking me if I don’t think I’m being too hard on him. It’s a good question. My answer is this:

As recently as a week or so ago, Rembert Weakland, Defender Against the Oppressed, Accuser of the Abused (“Not all adolescent victims are so innocent. Some can be sexually very active and aggressive and often quite streetwise. We frequently try such adolescents for crimes as adults at that age.”), was boasting to his diocese about what a great and good man he is:

Members of the Roman Curia often referred to me as a “maverick.” (The word comes from Samuel A. Maverick, 1803-1870, a Texas cattleman who refused to brand his calves like the others.) The best compliment I received, then, came from a religious superior in Rome who said: “Rome does not know what to do with Weakland. He is a free man.” I feel I have been able to maintain my own dignity and identity through it all.

That’s right. The man who knew perfectly well that he was spinelessly robbing the poor box of $450,000 in order to pay off a blackmailer with a perfectly solid case against him was assuring his luckless flock that his immense courage made him “a free man” who had “been able to maintain my own dignity and identity through it all”.

As I’ve already made clear below in my comments on zero tolerance. I don’t think isolated little incidents from 30 years ago should be suddenly dragged out and used to crucify people. But we are talking about a pattern of vanity, mendacity, and arrogance in Weakland’s case. In short, he knew perfectly well that he was deeply compromised but, like Cardinal Mahony, insisted on portraying himself as a heroic figure of Reform and a Moral Light who could talk down to John Paul to the cheers of millions. And perhaps most galling, he could rob from the poor box while offering auto-hagiography like:

The concern for the poor, especially on a global level, remains a strong motivational factor in my thinking.

This, combined with his infamous countersuit for $4000 against a family whose son was raped by a priest does not in the slightest make me think we are dealing with one pathetic incident long ago. It makes me think we are dealing with a vain mendacious man who clung to power as long as he possibly could wrapped in a cloud of vainglory and falsehood, when he should have had the good grace to go quietly long ago. I feel not much pity for his goldigging blackmailer. He has his reward. But for the people who have suffered under the rule and borne the thefts of this mendacious man to shore up his inflated assessment of himself, I feel great pity. As I say, I commend him for having the grace to offer his resignation. But I also recall the words of C.S. Lewis that it hardly to your credit to say that you are willing to lay down when it is no longer possible for you to stand up.