Because it’s not really a “sex abuse crisis” – it’s the cover-up which matters much more.
But I’ve been collecting links which I’ve been intending to put into a coherent piece, but I’m more or less giving up on that in favor of just sharing with readers what’s come across my facebook and twitter feed.
First, a preface: I am not an expert on the Vigano accusations. His opponents are taking the strategy of discrediting bits and pieces, or of character attacks, and the latter just doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, he makes suppositions along the way, but how can a man who served as the frickin’ nuncio to the United States until recently now be deemed so outrageously crackpot-y as to have created a document of lies from start to finish? And to the best of my understanding he is not now in a position to produce the documentary evidence that his opponents demand of him, but, rather, this must come from the Vatican itself, or via its giving permission to open up documents at the nuncio’s office. (One claim I saw was along the lines of “if he were a true whistleblower, he would have made secret photocopies while he still had access.”)
So, that said, here’s what I wanted to share with you:
Two items from Rod Dreher:
From The American Conservative, “Cardinal Wuerl’s Season Of Healing™”
in which he reports on a letter from Cardinal Wuerl announcing a “season of healing” which, in Dreher’s view, is all aimed at deflecting attention from himself. He calls for prayer and support for victims, but ignores questions around justice — that is, ensuring that perpetrators are punished by a court of law, where possible, and, where not, that they are removed from ministry and church support, and that any bishops found to have engaged in cover-ups or indifference are likewise removed from positions of honor. And there’s a jaw-dropping sentence (addressed to priests who had met with him):
Among the many observations was that the archdiocese would be well served by new leadership to help move beyond the current confusion, disappointment, and disunity.
Which is not followed by, well, anything, other than the announcement of the Healing Season. Is this an intentional middle-finger: “yes, I know you want me to resign, but I won’t”? Will the consequence of this statement be that he’ll find some scapegoat to fire instead? It’s astonishing.
The second item is just a tweet:
Just spoke with a young Catholic who recently left seminary. Sick of being sexually propositioned, and told by his superiors that HE was the problem, with his "insecurity" and "rigidity". This is not 2002; this is 2018. 1/2
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) September 1, 2018
He doesn’t say where, of course, but it speaks to the ongoing concern that there’s more going on than child abuse, and that church leaders repeated assurances that processes are in place to end the abuse don’t address this issue at all.
Another tweet, by The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia,
"…is NOT the US Church writ large." True. But the abuse stories are in Honduras, Chile, Australia, France, etc. It is a Whole Church issue. Postponing synod not impossible when Peter's first charge by Christ is to defeat wolves, close gates, tend wounded sheep, find the strays.
— Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) September 6, 2018
Which isn’t really earth-shattering except that, in seeing this, I was reminded me of the “field hospital for sinners” analogy that Francis and Cupich like to use.
Folks, what good is a “field hospital” if there is no sound medical care to be found there? Cupich yammers on about the “bigger agenda” but having one’s own house in order comes before all else. If under the guise of providing medical care, wounds become infected, patients’ bleeding is exacerbated rather than stopped, and shrapnel buried in further rather than removed, we’re no better off.
Speaking of Cupich, he’s still at it: “Cupich on scandal: ‘We have a bigger agenda than to be distracted by all of this’” as reported at the Sun-Times. He spoke to the seminarians at Mundelein seminary, some of whom spoke to reporters afterwards because of how dismayed they were at his comments. Fundamentally, he wholly rejects Vigano as utterly non-credible, and worthy of no attention whatsoever, because, he said,
If I say what he says is credible, then I have to say what he’s saying is credible about me.
Having said that, he repeats his mantra that, regardless of what may have happened in Pennsylvania, the Archdiocese of Chicago is different and that “our record’s clean.” At the same time, though, the article reports that
Cupich said that shortly after being appointed Chicago’s archbishop in 2014 by Pope Francis, a “number” of Mundelein students were “dismissed” for inappropriate conduct, which he didn’t elaborate on. . . .
• Cupich seemed taken aback when seminarians mentioned during a 45-minute question-and-answer session that some former students who left Mundelein after getting into trouble there are now enrolled at another Catholic seminary in an out-of-state diocese.
But based on his insistence that everything in the Archdiocese of Chicago was fully, 100% dealt with, nothing-to-see-here and no reason to worry about whatever may have happened elsewhere because that’s not our responsibility and has nothing to do with us, he repeated more or less what he said before that caused him to whine about unfair reporting — and this is what led students to contact reporters:
the cardinal said something that struck some of the seminarians as “tone-deaf.”
“I feel very much at peace at this moment. I am sleeping OK,” Cupich said, according to the person in attendance, a man studying to be a priest, who recalled that some fellow seminarians shook their heads in “disbelief.”
The source said Cupich also told the group that, while the church’s “agenda” certainly involves protecting kids from harm, “we have a bigger agenda than to be distracted by all of this,” including helping the homeless and sick.
That account was confirmed by other sources, including another seminarian also present at the gathering.
One of them said he decided to speak with the Sun-Times because so many Catholics “are hurting,” the cardinal’s remarks were so “non-pastoral,” and “the people of God need to know that their seminarians care” and “aren’t going to repeat the mistakes of the past — not only not repeat them but have them cleaned up.”
And the Pope? Here are some updates/commentaries on that:
Simcha Fisher: “You’re on the inside? Do your job or GTFO.”
Connecting up the current situation with the anonymous NYT article on the Trump administration, she writes:
It’s the same stupid, self-congratulatory, ineffectual, grandstanding, self-immolating shell game we got from the USCCB. In case you haven’t noticed, the Church is in flames. In flames, and we faithful were begging our leaders to do something, or at least say something. Let us know you see how we are suffering. And for the love of Jesus, use the strength of your arm to put out the fire. Do something about the career arsonists who call themselves our fathers. Use your power and influence to do the right thing. You’re on the inside, so do something.
Instead, they issued a couple of statements saying, “Don’t worry, everybuggy. We took a good look and we know things are super bad and that is super bad, but don’t worry, because we are implementing procedures! Procedures are being implemented. A-OK. World Youth, yay! Now you write check now.”
Same. Damn. Thing. They are in a position to put out the fire, and instead, they choose to sit with it and paint portraits of it and pat themselves on the back for how well they’re managing it. Well, we’re still engulfed in flames, and they still haven’t even hooked up a hose. And this is our house. We’re the ones who have to live here, and we’re supposed to play along and pretend this is how it’s supposed to be. And we’re still engulfed in flames. It’s crisis time, folks. We’re past the point where we can avoid the crisis by being “silent.” It’s here. No, keeping quiet doesn’t make you look like Jesus. It makes you look like this is your fire, and that’s how you like it.
Dwight Longnecker: “Ten reasons why Pope Francis’ silence is a disaster.”
Every one of the reasons is compelling but here’s one:
Seventh, the pope’s withdraw into silence is revealing him to be a hypocrite in a very important situation. He has presented himself as a listener, one who gets the smell of the sheep and who comes close to the wounded, the upset, the confused and bewildered–those who are alienated from their own church. Does he not realize that there are a huge number of his sheep in the United States and worldwide who are at the brink of despair over the sex abuse crisis and the bishops’ incompetence and sleazy behavior? These people need to be listened to. They also need to be comforted and led with a strong and compassionate hand. Casting them as the Pharisees and hiding behind a fake humility and the “silence of Jesus on trial” is just about the dumbest thing any spiritual leader could do, and his tin eared sycophants don’t seem to get it….at all.
And the report from the Vatican news today: “Pope Francis at Mass: Bishops must pray to overcome ‘Great Accuser’”
Folks, this homily, addressed to bishops, makes Cupich’s remarks sound positively moderate.
“In these times, it seems like the ‘Great Accuser’ has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The ‘Great Accuser’, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse’. A bishop’s strength against the ‘Great Accuser’ is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.”
This is horrifying. He claims that those who are trying to make known the sins of bishops (that is, their complicity and cover-up and/or active participation in sexual abuse of minors, abuses of power in seminaries, and sexual immorality more widely) are tools of the Devil, because knowing this will “scandalize the people.” Yikes. It’s very, very difficult to put a charitable construction on what appears to be a claim that justice for victims and removal of perpetrators from office needs to take a backseat to avoidance of scandal. Not only is it wrong, in a right vs. wrong sort of way, but it’s destined to be unsuccessful, on top of it, because attempts to cover-up, to insist that everything is in the past and we should all just move forward, will simply not work.
And why? Here’s my next link: a survey from YouGov: “Cost of sexual abuse scandals in Catholic Church” which reveals that a full 30% of Americans believe that a “many” priests are still to this day abusing children, that 54% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the Catholic Church, and that 34% of all Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the Pope (vs. only 41% having a favorable opinion, with the remainder having no opinion). Even if church leaders really don’t care particularly much about the decline in religious belief, even if they believe their job is to manage that decline, even if they think that their primary objectives are to bring about greater social justice in the world — you can’t do it if the reputation of the institution you are at the head of, is in tatters.
Image: from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/14037472464