I remember, a month and a half ago when, for a brief moment, conservative white “prolife” Catholics pretended to care about sexual assault victims because the PA report had come out. Then Vigano lied about Francis (the one man who acted against McCarrick) lifting sanctions Vigano pretended to have enforced against McCarrick. For, like, a week or two, people hungering for power in the Church and vengeance against their gay and liberal culture war enemies achieved one thing: victims vanished from sight and were replaced by a pure power struggle to destroy a pope they have hated since the instant he was elected. For his part, Vigano lobbed a huge grenade demanding Francis’ resignation and claiming that Francis–the one man who had acted against McCarrick–was unfit to be pope since he had (according to McCarrick) lifted imaginary “sanctions” against McCarrick.
Tim Busch of the EWTN board of Governors totally assured the NY Times that the editors at the Register–which broke this hatchet job–“had personally assured him that the former pope, Benedict XVI, had confirmed Archbishop Viganò’s account.”. Liesite, 1 Peter 5, Church Militant, and several other Francis-hating propaganda organs leapt into this highly coordinated palace coup and piled on–and then it all unraveled.
The pope’s personal secretary denied there was any such confirmation from Benedict. The WaPo, seeking evidence, asked Vigano for documentation and he declared it was time for “silence and prayer” and then vanished, claiming They Are Trying to Kill Me. For a while, the supporters of the palace coup absurdly demanded that Francis produce the paperwork Vigano claimed existed but did not demand Vigano produce it. It never seemed to occur to them that there might not be any paperwork to produce.
Then, Church Militant ridiculously declared that Vigano had a ton of paperwork but was holding it in reserve as a “death switch” so that the Shadowy Conspiracy dare not kill him. It did not occur to them that this meant Vigano is either a) withholding evidence that could save people from sexual assault and bring perps to justice, all in order to save his own skin or b) that they or Vigano or both are simply filthy liars. Soon, the palace coup was over and it was evident to anybody with common sense that this was a coordinated power grab by people with no interest in victims and no interest in the good of the Church.
Now the circle is complete: the same white conservative “prolife” Catholic subculture that showed no interest in victims is now laughing their asses off along with Donald Trump as he mocked a sexual assault victim on Tuesday night. Because with Cult 45 Francis-haters, victims are not human. They are useful or they are threats. Power is all that matters for them.
That dynamic is what lies behind the new initiative by American 1 Percenters to buy control of the Church:
A US-based Catholic think tank is seeking more than a million dollars to compile dossiers on individual cardinals in a bid to prevent a repeat of the 2013 conclave which elected Pope Francis.
The group “Better Church Governance” has hired ex-FBI investigators and academics to give each cardinal-elector a “classification” on how they have handled “abuse and corruption” in what they argue is an attempt by ordinary faithful to hold the hierarchy to account.
But the organisers of “The Red Hat Report” initiative are also planning to delve into cardinals’ sexual orientation and edit Wikipedia entries to link them to scandals, in the hope of tarnishing their reputations in advance of a future conclave.
“Cardinals need to be held accountable publicly so there has to be some sort of culture of shame,” Jacob Imam, the Better Church Governance’s Operations Director, explained at a launch event on Sunday at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC in an audio recording of the event that has been shared with The Tablet.
“They know if they vote for this person, that inevitably their own congregation the people that they shepherd, the pastors will know about it.”
Mr Imam, Marshall Scholar at the University of Oxford who converted to Catholicism three years ago, stressed he did not want to speak against Pope Francis. During the talk, however, he accused Francis of defending bishops in Argentina embroiled in alleged moral scandals and of mishandling abuse while in Buenos Aires, citing what he called the “Bergoglio Dossier”.
As he spoke, one of the slides in his presentation flashed up with the title: “Had we had the Red Hat Report, we may not have had Pope Francis.”
The term for this is “vigilantism”. It is a direct corollary of the successful brainwashing of Right Wing Catholics into the conviction that the sole problem with the Church is Gays and Liberals, who need only to be purged and destroyed and all will thereby be fixed. Armed with this monomaniac conviction as their lever for manipulating the Greatest Catholics of All Time–who are now immovably hostile to the Holy Father and certain that they themselves the Righteous whom God has anointed to purge the Church–the super-rich are now trying to create a Church in which anybody they hate can be declared, via social media, to be light in the loafers and swept from the assembly of the holy. The goal is not a cardinalate that is holy or interested in the gospel. The goal is a cardinalate dedicated to the service of Mammon and the protection and blessing of the 1 Percent. This is about the rich seizing control of the Church, not about the protection of victims, nor about the gospel.
Here’s reality: the issue is not gays and liberals. The issue is abusers, gay and straight, and enablers, conservative and liberal. How the 1 Percent propose to figure out how celibates are “gay” is not worked out because they cannot say out loud what they really mean: that they will smear and whisper and declare anybody they want to destroy to be “gay” on the basis of rumor. (It is, after all, how the Perfecti have concluded, beyond the shadow of a doubt that Fr. James Martin is gay. And it also how they have already, in their combox star chambers, likewise declared the Pope to be gay too.)
This move by rich vigilantes to capture control of the Church is the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas. So it is, of course, virtually inevitable that conservative Christianist Catholics will fall in love with it because it totally confirms their wrong thinking and promises them power and vengeance against those they blame for all the Church’s ills. What it will result in will be the stupid exaltation, not of saints or real reformers, but of exactly the worst sort of careerists and self-right culture warriors who have themselves covered up abuse and gotten away with it, because dumb conservatives cared more about folk heroes, culture war bullshit, and power than about victims or the gospel.
As I have already pointed out, the narrative of the right wing Church purgers is to see in this crisis an opportunity for a culture war crusade and they do not want to face the fact this guys like Burke, Law, Bruskewitz, and Nienstadt are just as complicit as the imaginary networks of liberals and gays alone for which they blame the problem. Indeed, when the guy is a conservative folk hero, the Right Wing Noise Machine pulls out the “persecution” card in a heartbeat. And so, while the rich vigilantes are busy selectively getting rid of cardinals who voted for Francis, they will turn a blind eye to conservative folk heroes like Burke:
It was in May of 1971 that B.V. first met the man she says sexually abused her. She was nine years old, and her family had traveled 45 minutes to the small town of Hewitt, Wisconsin, to attend a relative’s wedding. While at the wedding, her parents befriended Father Raymond Bornbach, pastor of St. Michael’s Parish. (At their request, victims in this article are not identified by name.)
“After that wedding he called my mom and asked to spend some special time with my sister and I,” B.V. writes in a handwritten statement delivered to diocesan officials on September 22, 2003.
Her mother agreed, and soon Bornbach was traveling far outside his parish to pick up the girls and take them for drives along central Wisconsin’s rural two-lane roads.
B.V. alleges that during the drives Bornbach would pull over at outdoor rest stops and ask her eight-year-old sister to get out of the car. “She would sit nearby on a rock, while in the car he would have me sit next to him[;] he would rub his hands up and down my thighs,” B.V. writes. “He would always kiss me on the lips and he smelled of cigar breath. He would stick his tongue in my mouth.”
According to the statement, a copy of which B.V. supplied to Riverfront Times, the abuse continued for more than a year, becoming progressively more intense. Eventually, B.V. alleges, Bornbach brought her to his house, took her upstairs to his bedroom and offered her a rosary before molesting her. “[He] asked to see the scar on my left arm and side where I had been burned as a child,” she writes. “He removed my dress and rub [sic] my chest and laid me on the bed, he then laid on top of me and started to hump up and down and rub his body on mine.”
Bornbach didn’t go any further, B.V. states. He was interrupted by his housekeeper. When the bedroom door opened, she writes, “he jumped up and told her we would be right down.”
Afterward, B.V. recalls in her statement, Bornbach took her to a local hardware store and bought her a bike. “[It was] my 1st ever bike,” she writes. “It was purple.”
The statement was penned nine months after B.V. came forward with her allegations in a January 6, 2003, letter to then-Bishop Burke. “They told Bornbach to get an attorney and not to talk to anyone,” B.V. says during an interview in her central Wisconsin home. “So when I called, I asked if I was supposed to get an attorney, too. They proceeded to tell me that if I got an attorney, all communication with them would cease.”
It was the beginning of what became for her a painful eighteen-month saga. “I was really naive in thinking that once they received this letter they would right away do something with this guy,” B.V. says today. “Bishop Burke protects his own.”
Archbishop Burke declines to comment about specific instances of sexual abuse, but he defends his record and his “open door” policy for victims of clergy abuse. “I have a policy, both in La Crosse and here, to meet personally with those who are making allegations, and then to follow very carefully the protocols that have been established by church law,” Burke said during a telephone interview with Riverfront Times that also was attended by archdiocesan attorney Bernie Huger and archdiocesan communications director Jim Orso. “My response was always pastoral. I wanted to meet personally with the victims, or alleged victims. I met with them as often as they wanted.”
Initially B.V. wanted four things from the diocese: She wanted Bornbach stripped of his collar. She wanted his name released to the public. She wanted to meet her alleged abuser face to face and she wanted to meet with Raymond Burke.
“From day one I asked to speak with the bishop. Almost every time I talked to these people I asked how come I wasn’t talking to the bishop,” B.V. says. “How come something wasn’t being done?”
Instead of meeting with B.V., the bishop appointed a liaison to meet with the alleged victim. When B.V. asked if her therapist could attend the liaison’s initial fact-finding interview, Burke agreed, though it went against a policy on child sexual abuse he’d set out in 2002. He stipulated two conditions, however, in a letter dated May 6, 2003. “The interview will be confidential. Therefore, no recordings or notes may be made or taken,” he writes. The second stipulation: “You agree that the interview is part of an internal Church process which may not be disclosed, compelled to be disclosed, or used as evidence in or as a basis for any non-Church action.”
B.V. balked. She wasn’t ready to tell her story to a stranger, and she canceled the meeting. “You have to be ready,” she says. “Some days you don’t want to talk about it, other days you do.”
But the diocese wasn’t waiting around. Unbeknownst to B.V., Burke had passed the matter off to the Diocese of La Crosse Child Sexual Abuse Review Board, a six-member group of church and lay officials — including the diocesan attorney — whose duty it is to review allegations of clergy sexual abuse. So B.V. was surprised to receive a letter from the board on August 28, 2003, warning, “If we do not hear from you by Monday, September 15, 2003, we will assume you do not wish pursue to [sic] the matter and the case will be closed.”
“I called them immediately,” she says. “[I] told them, ‘You can close the case, but it will never be closed for me.'”
Why? Because Burke is working with Steve Bannon both to attack Pope Francis and to promote the agenda of the hard right ethnonationalist populism (and Mammon worship) that is the core of Trumpism and of the ethnonationalist right wing movements in Europe.
This is not about reform of the Church. It is about exploiting a real crisis with the goal of placing the Church in the hands of servants of Mammon. It is an attempt by the wealthy to buy the next pope.
Instead of handing the Church over to rich vigilantes, the obvious thing to do is listen to Scripture. Where crime has been committed, Caesar is the guy to tackle it according to Romans 13. What happened in Pennsylvania needs to happen on a global scale. Victims need to be recompensed and perps punished by the work of the state, not by rich parasites exploiting a crisis for their own benefit.