Pope Faces Palace Revolts & Government Invasions: Top Non-Clerics May Resign

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

The continuing clerical sex abuse scandals have already helped lead to one pope’s failure and ultimate resignation. Alarmed cardinals then elected an interim pope/media star, Francis, to try to limit potential harm to bishops from the scandals’ continuing and massive waves.

Francis has apparently followed for two years a dual strategy of (a) trying to underplay and string out the scandal with a near farcical abuse commission under disgraced Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer, and (b) changing the subject with media distractions, like needless foreign trips and endless photo ops, contrived canonizations and aimless synods, papal “double speak” and mixed messaging, pontifications on stopping global warming and militarily opposing ISIS threats and other public relations gimmicks, like pizza deliveries in St. Peter’s Square. This strategy has failed. Children’s safety is too important to Catholic parents to be buried for long in distractions.

The pope now faces escalating risks from governmental pressure and/or investigations and even prosecutions in the UK, Australia, Chile, the USA, Germany and many other countries. The pope also faces a serious revolt among at least several non-clerical members of his papal advisory abuse commission, as well as among everyday Catholics, as the unprecedented protests in Chile just showed.

John Allen, the Vatican friendly journalist who seems close to Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, head of the pope’s abuse commission and member of his elite cardinals’ group, in an untypically critical column (3/27/15) noted: “It’s not clear if Francis fully grasped this at the time, but when he named survivors to that group {the abuse commission}, he was handing them significant control over his reputation. If {Marie} Collins and {Peter} Saunders were ever to walk out, saying they’d lost confidence or feeling that they’d been exploited for a PR exercise, it would have a vast media echo. (emphasis mine)

Allen may be understating the impact of potential commission resignations (potentially by more than just the survivor members, it appears). It also appears that he may have been unaware of investigative reporter, Jason Berry’s important column, earlier in the day, that reported that Peter Saunders, a UK priest abuse survivor and member since last month of the pope’s abuse commission, had already indicated in an e-mail interview that: “Pope Francis has to withdraw this appointment {of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros} or I and others may find it impossible to stay on the commission, …”. Saunders, after less than two months on the commission, reportedly added to this implied threat of resignation: “I am beginning to get a sense of the misguided way in which many church officials operate, … {and} I also sense that they {many church officials} feel extremely uncomfortable, probably threatened by the real prospect that their power — the ‘church’s’ power — will diminish” through the oversight of bishops. (emphasis mine} .

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