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The Big Question about the Pope’s Thursday Homily

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jan 17, 2014

On Thursday, Pope Francis preached against scandal and harm caused by corrupt clergy when he concelebrated Mass with two cardinals. One of the cardinals was Roger Mahony, the former archbishop of Los Angeles. A fair evaluation of Mahony’s ecclesiastical career would suggest, among other things, that he showed greater interest in fashionable causes than in the counter-cultural moral demands of the Catholic faith, that he conveyed a noticeably “thin” understanding of the Mass, that he had no qualms about showing ecclesiastical approval of pro-abortion politicians, and that at the very least he handled cases of sexual abuse extraordinarily badly, deliberately protecting abusive priests.

In a move clearly connected to the abuse scandal, Cardinal Mahony was relieved by his successor early last year of all his remaining duties in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Years earlier, his lack of opposition to abortion had angered the American Life League enough to call for his resignation. Similarly, the absence of any clear sense of the Eucharistic Presence of Christ in his worship guidelines so infuriated Mother Angelica of EWTN that she (unwisely) publicly counseled disobedience to his episcopal authority.

So here is the question: Knowing what you now know about Pope Francis, including his characteristic bluntness, should the focus of his homily on January 16th be taken as an indication of the closeness of the concelebrants—or of the enormous gap which separates them?

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  • Posted by: gary.brisebois1104 - Jan. 21, 2014 1:45 PM ET USA

    This is a direct and public rebuke of Mahoney by Pope Francis.

  • Posted by: mleiberton3126 - Jan. 19, 2014 2:19 AM ET USA

    I suggest we let the good Lord answer. Only He knows what this pope and this cardinal intend.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jan. 18, 2014 12:27 PM ET USA

    I have no idea of how a Pope resolves things with God as he approaches death and I ardently desire mercy for myself as I am sure they do. But to concelebrate with any other priest demonstrates in a very real way solidarity with them. We do not and cannot know the motions of any human heart from day to day, so, irregardless of how things look we can only hope that Cardinal Mahoney has reconsidered his past actions and has come more in line with the teachings of the Church as stated.

  • Posted by: fredmarkette - Jan. 18, 2014 12:25 PM ET USA

    At the Last Supper, John leaned into Jesus' shoulder and asked "Who is it Lord?" The sign that Jesus gave was the custom of dipping the unleavened bread in the sauce and handing it to the person next to him. In essence; the act was in implicit toast – a gesture of good will. But reclining at table in the style of time would mean that Judas was sitting on Jesus' left. It is remarkable that even on the night He was betrayed, Jesus reached out to Judas. Was the Cardinal to the Pope's left?

  • Posted by: Baseballbuddy - Jan. 17, 2014 9:51 PM ET USA

    Three things: Francis has no idea of the cunning with which Mahony operated in L.A.; ergo, the inadvertent homily. Or Francis knows about that and wanted to rub Mahony's nose in his culpability (which would be unChristian and therefore, unlikely). Or he wanted to show that all's forgiven Mahony but no one should follow his example. Which means, who knows?

  • Posted by: Savonarola - Jan. 17, 2014 7:26 PM ET USA

    Looks like another example of very dubious judgment by Pope Francis. It seems that the disgraced American cardinals, Mahony and Law, both seem to be seeking some sort of rehabilitation or acceptance - instead of retreating to a distant monastery - and can't stay out of the public eye. Law, for example, recently had the gall to appear, in red zucchetto and sash, at an event in Washington - to somewhat muted applause. Oremus.

  • Posted by: skall391825 - Jan. 17, 2014 4:26 PM ET USA

    Question: should the focus of the pope's homily on January 16th be taken as an indication of the closeness of the concelebrants—or of the enormous gap which separates them? I would pay to hear Mother Angelica answer that.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jan. 17, 2014 4:19 PM ET USA

    I am surprised that Pope Francis would concelebrate Mass with Cardinal Mahoney.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jan. 17, 2014 4:01 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis demonstrates a wisdom here almost breathtaking in its reach. I am reminded of Christ asking Peter 3 times if he loved him (John 21:17). Nothing ever said to Cardinal Mahony could possibly cut so deep as the pope's words. And yet Francis never even mentioned his name. The only question is if the Cardinal is still sensitive enough to realize what actually happened.

  • Posted by: Dlukenbill2151 - Jan. 17, 2014 3:06 PM ET USA

    A trick question?

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