If Francis Does Nothing Else in His Pontificate…

I’d be happy if he took a pressure washer to these guys and cleaned out the stables.  And I have hope he will.  I have a hunch he’s not the sort of guy that will let  himself be jerked around twice by these clowns.  We’ll see.

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  • RelapsedCatholic

    Pope Francis has one measure and one measure alone to judge his papacy by: whether he puts into place the reforms that will prevent the systemic abuse of children by our priests. He should also throw open the records and come clean about what has been done in the past, what was known, and what wasn’t known. Nothing cuts at the legitimacy of the church more then the abuse scandal. It taints every truth the church tells, and turns all it’s good works into ash. Zero tolerance for any Bishop or Cardinal that hides the truth, transfers a priest, or fails to cooperate with civil authorities investigating child sexual abuse.

    • Adolfo

      “one measure and one measure alone to judge his papacy”


      • RelapsedCatholic


    • Louis Tully

      How much abuse has been occurring in the last decade? At least in the U.S., there’s no institution safer for children than the Catholic Church.

      • RelapsedCatholic

        Perhaps, but the church is still obfuscating and not cooperating fully w/ authorities. The current allegations about Cardinal Dolan shifting money to shield it from lawsuits is the type of thing that pulls the church back in the eyes of the public.

    • Marthe Lépine

      It seems to me that it would be a better idea to trust the Holy Spirit and Jesus who has promised to always be with His Church, rather than make to do lists of what Pope Francis must or must not do during his papacy… As has been said before in better words than mine, all of those problems just prove that the Church, in spite of being run by less than competent administrators, has survived for 2000+ years and will continue to survive because it is the Church that Christ founded. Of course it has enemies within as well at outside, and will probably always have them. Never forget that one of the 12 apostles chosen by Jesus ended up betraying Him.

      • RelapsedCatholic

        I believe in a system of trust but verify in all things. Please understand I love the church even when I criticize it. Especially when I criticize it. I have seen the bulk of my generation leave the church for other religions and spiritualities and the majority left because of the sense of disgust & betrayal brought on by this scandal. I do not suggest this as a mere to do list from personal preference, but as a must-do from life experience. There is a reason why for every new convert there are three Catholics (at least in America) that leave her. They are not all bad or selfish people.

        I understand the instinct to defend the church, but if the layity do not hold the bishops & Vatican responsible who will?

        • In my experience, they’ve all left the Church *specifically* for bad and selfish reasons, though.

          • RelapsedCatholic

            Some perhaps, but with an exodus of this proportion we would be silly to write it off as being made up entirely of selfish people. There are many many good people that left, we should find out why. Vilifying married couples for using contraception (especially when they have children) gets us nowhere.

            • But isn’t that kind of a stereotypical example of a selfish reason?

              Leaving the church because you didn’t like some teaching on X is the very definition of a selfish reason to me. Doesn’t matter WHAT the teaching was.

              Not to mention the rather selfish view that the Church should change 2000 years worth of teaching on ONE culture’s attempt to deny that sex leads to babies.

              There have been surveys done. The hidden cause is that the people who left don’t believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I could easily see in that situation running up against something as simple as “when you use contraception, you are removing a portion of the consent that is part of the ideal form of marriage” and think that the Church is vilifying such people, instead of trying to teach them how to have a better marriage.

              To use a turn of phrase I heard recently, such people aren’t even really Cafeteria Catholics- they are barely Frozen TV Dinner Catholics.

              • RelapsedCatholic

                Other studies have been done that show upwards of 90% of Catholics of reproductive age have used contraception, so they are not leaving the church over that one issue. The contraception debate is one that is longer than I care to get into here.

                What I am saying is that greater transperancy about abuse in the current day and in the past is what is needed to restore confidence in the church.

                • Greater transparency in everything would be good. As this article points out, a lack of transparency in sexual mores has resulted in a questionable person being appointed to a position of fiscal responsibility.

                  We need greater transparency not just in the Church, but also in our American government.

                  I fear, though, we won’t get it for another 40 years. The default mode for previous generations was secrecy, transparency didn’t become a value until the Information Age started.

    • You are missing the point. There are so many ways to undercut and destroy the Church from within. These personnel files are a key locus in the process of the abuse cases cover ups but they also open the Church to uncounted other vulnerabilities. So, yes, clean up the past scandal, but make sure you do it in a way that also strengthens defenses against assaults against the Church coming from different directions.

      Accurate personnel files are a key defense against predators of all types gaining positions in the Church. Do you think that the priests that were transferred ever had honest personnel folders? Do you think that the receiving institutions got an honest evaluation and decided to accept them?

      Cooperation with civil authorities is a double edged sword. There is a good reason why the Church is good at making people disappear and smuggling them away. It’s a functional skill set in a tyranny and a blow for Christ to prevent injustice. Most people who advocate 100% cooperation with civil authorities fail to take this into account and, when reminded, generally find it more difficult than they thought to put together a fair minded statement that covers every circumstance. In fairness, this is a hard task.

      • RelapsedCatholic

        You raise valid points and concerns, some of which I had not considered. However, I do think that the church should err on the side of openness for at least the foreseeable future. The damage caused by the scandal is very real, and possibly very permanent. Continued obfuscation, especially about past incidents simply draws out the public perception problem. The new evangelization that any are discussing cannot simply rest upon the rich history and traditions of the church. If we are to draw back many lapsed Catholics (as I once was) we need to think about what sent them away in the first place.

        • We agree.

        • One repeating story I’ve seen in the files that have come out though, were a bunch of cases in the 1970s where “reported to police, police cleared Fr X of charges, so we’re reassigning him back to a new parish”. What do you do when the civil authorities are *part* of the coverup?

          • RelapsedCatholic

            The question is what do we do now? If the police will not hold priests accountable the church must place them far from where they will have access to children. A nice monastery in outer Mongolia perhaps.

            • THAT I’m all for. Or the functional equivalent. Perhaps an existence ministering to the needs of cloistered nuns? Celebrating mainly the sacraments of eucharist in penance in the equivalent of a chapel built like a confessional?

    • Funny, looked to me like Pope Benedict *already accomplished* that measure.

      There’s a much bigger scandal that you don’t know anything about, of which the abuse scandal is only the tip of the iceberg.

      I will consider Francis a success if he manages to maintain his previous public persona while quietly kicking the gay lobby out of the curia and reforming the IOR.

      In some ways thought, the two tasks are the same- for the reforms started under Benedict with respect to the sex abuse cases, won’t be complete until the curia has been scrubbed of certain elements who are using the sex abuse scandal to cover up their money laundering (and perhaps worse) scandal.

      • RelapsedCatholic

        He started some excellent reforms as Pope, he could have done much more as the head of the CDF. He also did very little to create the type of transperancy that would restore faith in the Vatican.

        I also am highly suspect of the conflation that is going on in the Catholic media and blogosphere. While there may be gay priests in the Vatican (and I’m sure there is) conflating a gay sex scandal amongst the clergy along with the banking/ money laundering scandal seems to fit into the push back against the gay rights movement far too conveniently for it to not set off my bullshit alarms. It seems like spin of Washingtonian proportions and I’m not buying it.

        At least everyone is in agreement that reform is needed.

        • The Lavender Mafia is a joke here. In Italy it is a nickname for a real organization, a masonic lodge that has had its fingers in many pies for many, many generations now. It has had homosexual tendencies and goes back a good six or seven decades before even the heterosexual sexual revolution, let alone the gay rights movement. It goes back to the time of Pope Pius IX and his struggles against corruption in the Papal States and the Italian Revolution. They’ve had well placed priests in the curia for some time.

          Some even blame them for the suspicious events surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I.

          Homosexuality and the sex scandals are just a small part of it; there’s a much larger picture yet to be revealed.

          • RelapsedCatholic

            Thank you for the perspective.

  • Dan C

    Sandro Magister has been hostile to Francis in a way he was a overly deferential to the administrative disasters of Benedict and JP2. John Allen has the most balanced coverage.

    We have a pope who has in his role in Buenos Aires permitted priests who have strayed from celibacy to remain in the priesthood with the promise that they remain faithful to their vows and no children resulted from the affairs.

    I suspect he continues that policy.

    With an administrator, we get a mixed bag. Not all administrators have the “everything” needed for leadership. Or have made errors. Dolan is an example, and more such examples will arise through time- why? Because each current bishop rose through the eras in which cover-ups of the sex abuse scandal were actually encouraged. As such, these habits of Soviet-like “image” of the Church will take a while to end.

    In terms of the administrative functions of Ricca, a priest rising in the Vatican in both JP2’s time and Benedict’s time, I await an assessment. Magister, reporting diligently on the reports of sexual misdeeds, makes no comment on Ricca’s performance or behavior in Rome.

    Magister has barely said a positive thing about Francis, but was exceedingly careful with Benedict, failing even to criticize the diplomatically tone deaf and ridiculously ham-handed Regenberg Address.

    Magister is not a friend of Francis.

  • W. Randolph Steele

    As someone with close ties to local chancery office and the head of priests personnel in my diocese, I can tell you that IF you got rid of every gay priest,celibate otherwise, the priest shortage would be even worse here in the U.S, than it already is and this also does NOT include the trouble caused by “straight” priests and their girlfriends/wives or the drunks, mental ill and bullies who can’t get along with anyone. ARE there good priests? But they have a hard time given the damage the others do.
    As to this particular case, a close reading of history will tell you that there have ALWAYS been guys like the one mentioned in the article. It’s just that lot easier to keep it quiet.
    “I” really like Pope Francis because he is pastoral and genuine. To ME, he is the “working man’s friend” who knows how it is to be one of the masses and my suspicion is that he’ll deal with this kind of stuff in a charitable,but direct way.

  • This is an information problem. The Pope must have reliable personnel files with which to form opinions on potential appointees and to place those who are worthy. By this incident, if true (because this is the media after all and we must not treat their stories as holy writ), Pope Francis does not have access to reliable personnel files.

    This is a disaster. This must be repaired. But how are we to do it? It’s not like an HR department riddled with inaccurate files and covering scandal is without precedent outside the Church. So how do others fix it?

  • LFM

    Is it true that people are leaving the Church because of the scandals, or do they just choose to justify their decision on that basis? After all, so many American Catholics (and others, of course) were infrequent attendees of Mass, practiced contraception, and got divorced in numbers comparable to those of non-Catholics, years before the scandals broke.

    I was and am upset by the scandals, but not surprised, because I’m never really surprised at sin no matter where it occurs. The corruption of the best is the worst, as the ancient Romans used to say (corruptio optimi pessima) and undoubtedly brings particular satisfaction to the Old Nick.