Catholic Culture Podcasts
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Quick Hits: Small Advances on Abuse Crisis

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 11, 2018

Matters have been unfolding slowly since Archbishop Viganò’s revelations about the Church’s handling of the homosexually abusive Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. But here are three straws in the wind:

  • Timetable on McCarrick Confirmed: Two portions of the timetable have been essentially confirmed for the Vatican’s knowledge of allegations of homosexual activity by Cardinal McCarrick. First, a letter from Cardinal Sandri confirms Archbishop Viganò’s claim that the Vatican knew of allegations against McCarrick in 2000. It is important to have this confirmed, though it is distressing, because it means that, at a minimum, key figures in the administration of John Paul II knew about the problem shortly before McCarrick was made both Archbishop of Washington and a cardinal in 2001. The timing is, however, very tight, and the charges could not yet have been substantiated when McCarrick was promoted. The first notice of allegations against McCarrick from seminarians apparently arrived in November of 2000, and McCarrick was named a Cardinal in February of 2001.

    Second, Vatican journalist Andrea Tornelli has confirmed that McCarrick was at least asked by Pope Benedict to retire to a life of privacy and prayer as early as 2007. Though this was apparently not an official “sanction”, it did occur even earlier than Archbishop Viganò suggested in his own testimony. By this time, of course, the Vatican would have had far more information gathered—and substantiated—about the Cardinal.

  • Cardinal Cupich continues to conceal the nature of the abuse crisis: In the United States, Cardinal Blase Cupich continues to stand out as the leader of the camp which wants to continue to deny the homosexual reality of the abuse crisis. In an annual address which shocked even his own seminarians, Cupich advised them that: (1) They should not allow themselves to be upset or distracted from their fundamental purpose by the allegations of abuse; which might have been taken as good advice if he had not also asserted (b) Archbishop Viganò was fundamentally unreliable; and (c) there is no evidence whatsoever that homosexuality lies at the root of the abuse problem.

    Meanwhile, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth in England stated forthrightly that there are three levels to the current scandal: abusive behavior, clerical circles of homosexuals, and cover-ups. This knowledge is now universal, of course, and seminarians reportedly left the Cupich speech convinced that their superior was either incredibly tone deaf or, well, fill in the blank.

  • Pope Francis makes two small moves: We now know that Pope Francis has agreed to meet with the head of the US Bishops Conference, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, on Thursday, September 13th. DiNardo had pressed the Pope both to initiate an Apostolic Visitation to the United States to determine the depths of the problem and also to investigate and respond to the Viganò allegations.

    Pope Francis also gave what I hope was an important homily at Mass on Monday, September 10th. While some recent homilies have made people wonder whether the Pope was attempting to use Scripture to justify his own failure to respond to serious allegations and questions (though he was in any case preaching on the texts of the day), Monday’s homily stressed a very important point—namely, that conversion to Christ means rejecting the old life of sin, not disguising it or justifying it, and that when Christians are dishonest about that, the Devil will raise up accusers to make it known.

    That is a Scriptural reference, too, of course. While at first glance, the headline could suggest the Pope wants to portray Archbishop Viganò as prompted by Satan, the homily could well mark an important shift in pastoral focus. I recommend clicking through to the full story from Vatican News and deciding for yourself.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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