Jan. 2, 2020
By Christopher Altieri
As the year 2020 opens, the Church appears to have entered into the slogging phase of its leadership crisis. Part of that is due to what one might call “scandal fatigue” – the sense that no wickedness, incompetence or rot has the power to surprise once discovered. It is also partly due to the nature of protracted crises, which periodically flare up or explode in scandal and then fall into a gruesome routine.
Here are three things likely to happen in 2020, followed by three that could happen – by “could” I mean something in between “possible” and “likely as not”.
Things that are likely to happen in 2020:
1) The Vatican will release its report on former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. It will be brief. Rumours put it at about 250 pages, which is light for a dossier supposed to be an exhaustive treatment of the Vatican’s engagement with a churchman who had a 60-year career, especially when the report is produced by an organisation that writes everything down and never throws anything away.
The report is likely to make things worse for the Vatican, at least in the short term.
It will answer some questions, keep the commentariat talking and give reporters solid leads. But it will not add to the picture of the last six decades as much as (or in the ways) people expect.
2) There will be more bad news on both the financial and abuse cover-up fronts.
This one is pretty much a no-brainer. There is little hope that the higher-ups in the Vatican will either experience a change of heart or learn good crisis communications practice, so expect news of this sort to come piecemeal. Some things that are very big deals will make very little noise (given our crisis fatigue), and others of relatively minor scale will generate a good deal of noise, especially if they contain all three elements of the scandal trifecta: sex, money and power.
3) Francis will promulgate the new apostolic constitution reforming the Roman Curia.
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