If I didn’t know better, I’d think the news headlines about the Catholic Church scandals are complete fiction.
Think of it: a state investigation reveals sexual scandals and a massive cover-up involving Church hierarchy – you know, the men in red and white robes wearing those white collars and red hats that are symbols of their position and “sanctity.”
The findings of the investigation in Pennsylvania reveal a sexual cesspool of a magnitude that almost no one can imagine, especially faithful Church members.
There are accusations of sexual predation by priests against young boys and men in the churches and seminaries. It revealed clear homosexuality among many clergy and the fact that those who knew, kept silent.
It is so outlandish, it’s almost impossible to believe except – EXCEPT – it’s not fiction, and it will get worse before it ends.
That’s because there’s more dirt to be revealed, more of the top men involved, and ultimately the man at the very top, the fellow in charge, the Pope. He should be the first to defend the truth regardless of what it is, but he chooses to clam up, to stonewall, and to act as though the whole thing is – what did I call it? – fiction.
There have been rumors for years about homosexual activity in the clergy hierarchy and the seminaries, but no one in secular media followed the clues and religious media ignored it.
The current explosion, following the Pennsylvania investigation, is the lengthy letter/testimony from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano who was Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from the Vatican and was replaced by Pope Francis in 2016.
In Vigano’s letter, he implicates a lengthy list of church hierarchy in this country, other countries, and the Vatican. He names people, places and the Pope himself. In fact, he calls for the Pope to resign.
The core of it: a massive cover-up of sexual abuse and immorality on every level. He names the Pope in a cover-up of the sexual activities and abuse by disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He resigned in July over abuse of a minor, but the allegations against him are lengthier than that – and the Vigano letter claims the Pope knew of them for more than five years.
When Pope Francis was confronted with the letter and the accusations, his reaction was: “I won’t say a word about it.”
And he hasn’t. He just ignores it.
NBC News asked Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich about that. His response was classic: The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”
If it weren’t so serious, it would be laughable. But Catholics are not laughing.
Now a letter from 2006 has surfaced from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri that confirms the Vatican knew about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct with seminarians as far back as 2000; and apparently nothing was done.
This letter supports Vigano’s claims in his 11-page testimony.
Let me establish where I stand in this and why I have the right to criticize.
I’m a cradle Catholic, born to Catholic parents, Baptized into the faith as a baby. I was brought up in our Catholic home, going to Church, Sunday School and Catechism classes, and learning about my faith. I received the Sacraments – Confession, First Communion, Confirmation and later, married in the Church. My parents weren’t terribly religious but my grandmother was, having her statues and candles and daily Communion.
Our relations with our parish priests were superficial in the sense that we met them in connection with our growth in the religion, but we didn’t socialize. There was never any question that any of them were bad or evil or participated in activities that were sinful. We believed in their vows and prayed they did too.
I went to public schools and then went to a Catholic college; it was when Catholic colleges were truly Catholic. Unfortunately, that has changed over the years just as our society has changed, and the young people attending today are not getting a real “Catholic” education. They’re getting indoctrinated in the social and political mores of general society, which is a tragedy and the subject of another commentary.
But my religious training as well as an education in Logic, Philosophy and Theology enables me to see what is going on – and I don’t like it.
These people – from the Pope on down – treat the lay Catholics as simple fools, as though we can’t see what they are doing to us and to the church. But we can.
In Santa Barbara, on Aug. 26, young priest and assistant pastor Juan Carlos Gavancho preached a homily in his church about the scandal. He stood up for the faith and how evil has taken hold in the Church.
The reaction was swift. He was told to vacate the rectory, his name was removed from the parish website and he’s living in a motel. If he can’t get another clergy assignment, he’ll have to return home to Peru.
Take the retiring bishop of San Jose, California, Patrick J. McGrath. He wanted to retire and live in the area, so he decided to buy a $2.3 million, 3,269-square-foot, 5-bedroom home in a fashionable neighborhood with the Diocese footing the bill.
I saw that in the East Bay Times on Aug. 27. He told the reporter, from Ireland where he was visiting, “That’s a lot of money. I could understand it might not sit well with some.” He added that the third-of-an-acre of lush grounds would allow him to pursue one of his passions – “I like to putter around in the garden!”
No kidding! As word spread, the “you know what” hit the fan and he suddenly changed his mind, saying he “erred in judgment” and has decided to live in the rectory of a local parish.
His nobility is blinding.
And news from New York and New Jersey should get the Pope’s attention. Both states will investigate Catholic dioceses and clergy, and there are at least six other states considering the same action. It should go national.
I know it won’t happen, but I’d love to see Pope Francis subpoenaed to appear in court under a RICO investigation. It would be interesting to see how arrogant he’d be.
In my dreams – but the least he could do is resign.
As I’ve said before, they can steal my church, but they can’t steal my faith.