The reader from Friday writes back

By Mark Shea
Patheos blog
August 19, 2019

They say:

Thank you for getting back to me with this reply. Although I appreciate all of it, two things in it stand out in particular:

While the ChurchMilitant crowd does call out sin in the hierarchy, it fundamentally has a false view that the problem can be fixed by replacing everyone without conservative views or who is gay. So many of those implicated in the abuse crises as enabling abusers, like the Diocese of Lincoln or Cardinal Hoyos, were theologically Orthodox and defenders of the Latin Mass.CM and others in that crowd are, in their own way, covering up the problem by trying to pin everything on one side of the church.

Precisely.  Recently, news broke that the Trad priest who happens to be Michael Voris’ priest not only was accused of abuse and removed from his duties but he was co-founder of a group that helped priests accused of abuse under the radar, including priests who had confessed to abuse.  Instead of his customary railing at the evil corrupt Church of Damn Libruls, Voris’ response has been to do nothing but instruct Premium Subscribers that Fr. Perrone categorically denies the charges.  How does Voris Just Know the priest is innocent?  Well, he’s a Traditional priest, of course.  One of Our Team.  It is impossible that One of Us could be guilty.  If that sounds like the entire basis of every clericalist coverup of every sexual assault in the Church since forever, that’s because it is.  He’s Our Sort.  His accusers are Them—out to bring Us, the Good Guys, down.  And that is the massive hubris that underlies the Us vs. Them narrative upon which the entire project of the Greatest Catholics of All Time depends.  They Just Know that God has anointed them to cleanse the Church of the Impure, including the Pope, so it is unthinkable that sin could really be an issue for them too.  It’s only the riff raff, by which they mean most of the Church and not themselves, who need to be purged.  Just the gays and libs.  They are the trouble, not the Righteous whom God has sent to deliver the Church from the impure, including the Pope.

For the abuse crises, it may be that we have to use secular media as our prime source, even if it does seem hostile to the faith in general. If we have confidence that the faith is true, their opinion shouldn’t  shake our own.

We most certainly should be turning to ordinary media journalists and never the Right Wing Noise Machine.  The measure is simple.  It is not “Do they never err?” but “What do they do when they err?”  Real journalists retract, apologize and correct.  Fake journalists double down and maintain the lie in order to stay on propagandistic message.

Another question, and I hate to bother you so much, but this has been on my mind: What should our attitude by towards John Paul II? My understanding is that he was deeply respected throughout the 80’s and 90’s for fighting communism and his outreach to other faiths. It now seems as if the church has done a lot to make him as an example of the faith, from canonizing him to selling children’s books about him. However, as lately confirmed by the harrowing Polish Documentary Tell No One, he did not act on bishops who he knew were enabling pedophilia, and even appointed them to higher positions, both here and in Europe. Maybe I’m thinking too much like a modern American, but it seems as if, while respect is owed for his accomplishments, he was a deeply flawed human who enabled great evil, and therefore should not be upheld so highly in Catholic circles.

I think the truth has to be told about both his failures and his achievements.  To me, he shows the very typical characteristic of the Petrine ministry: massive failure and real faith in Jesus.  Without any possible exception, his most colossal failure is with sexual abuse. Make what excuses we will for him, the reality is that when, for instance, Ratzinger tried to warn him that Maciel was a monster, he simply refused to act.  The instant that Ratzinger became Pope, Maciel was gone.  I get that a favorite Commie tactic was to accuse priests of being pervs and JPII grew up in the Cold War mindset that saw the Church as the Persecuted Noble Resistance that it typically was under the Commies.  But the fact remains that he behaved, alas, much as most bishops of his age acted (and still act) when confronted with what we now know is a global issue. He enabled.  He did not stop it and he did not put the good of victims first.  Indeed, if there is something the Church can learn from his failure it is that we must, especially here in America where the Church is not even persecuted, stop addressing the sins of the Church with the instant assumption that the Church is being persecuted when the victims of bad Catholics ask for justice.  We have to remember Jesus’ warning that the real danger facing the Church is not persecution (even if they kill us).  It is seduction (cf. Matthew 10:28).

Our simplistic ideological age will (I think stupidly) spend decades trying to stick a white or black mitre on JPII.  In the end, I think we will have to face the fact that, like Peter, he both denied and trusted Christ, committing grave sins and achieving great things by faith.  The prayer is “Look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church”.  I think, in the final analysis, JPII is a saint who failed profoundly in the area of sexual abuse, just as Peter is a saint who failed profoundly when Jesus, who was not only his Lord, but his friend, needed him most.  Jesus forgave him all the same.  I, who owe both men a huge debt for their work as Shepherds in my formative years, cannot imagine Jesus wanting me to do anything other than forgive JPII for his sins as well as pay him the debt of gratitude I owe him as I owe Peter.  So I do.  That’s the best I have anyway, though I also hasten to add that I speak only for me and not for victims struggling with a sense of betrayal.  Mostly I pray for peace and healing for the Church.


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