My Hero, His Mother, and Pontifical Prevarication

pope press conference

You listened to her, O Lord, and did not despise her tears, which moistened the earth, whenever she prayed. (Antiphon for today’s Memorial of St. Monica)

St. Monica. She prayed for her son… Augustine. That he would embrace Catholicism.

She prayed. And he did. He embraced our religion, big time. The Catechism quotes Monica’s son more than any other theologian. Reading St. Augustine’s sermons has given me endless inspiration and insight. There is no one whom I admire more.

What separated Augustine from the hypocrites? Maybe his slavish humility before the sacred text of the Scriptures? Maybe his total personal devotion to Jesus his Savior? Maybe his tireless readiness to seek the truth? This made him the kind of pastor who could answer questions without prevarication.

Let’s take one Augustine quote from the Catechism.

To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts.

From this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only God (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence). [CCC 1809]

There’s enough wisdom in that one paragraph to organize your whole life on.

To live well is to love God.

Loving God keeps love pure and temperate.

Loving God makes love strong, even in the face of great difficulties.

Loving God keeps love honest and just, since the Lord sits on His throne to judge everyone, with all truth.

And loving God keeps love prudent, since a brave, pure, and honest love can see through nonsense and root itself in facts, in reality.

The best reaction I have heard so far to the publication of the famous Archbishop Viganó dossier: “I am shocked above all to learn that an Italian official spent time working during the second half of August.”

augustine-bookSeriously, though. We find ourselves at a terrible impasse. Our Holy Father had a chance yesterday to deny the truth of what the Archbishop alleges. On the papal plane heading home from Ireland, a reporter asked the pope directly, “Is it true that you knew about McCarrick?”

But Pope Francis would not say, “No. It is not true. Had I known I would have acted. Acted on behalf of those victimized by McCarrick’s predations. I’m only sorry I found out about it so late, and it breaks my heart to think about all the people that this man has hurt.”

The pope could have said all this. If it were true. But he did not. He said, “You must draw your own conclusions.”

To repeat: A reporter had asked the pope about a private conversation between himself and an Archbishop. The Archbishop had written: “I told Pope Francis about McCarrick in June of 2013.” So, Holy Father, is that true? Answer: “Draw your own conclusions.”

You might have wondered what I meant above, when I used the word ‘prevarication.’ Our Holy Father’s answer to a simple Yes or No question, a question that only he can answer: “Draw your own conclusions.”

That’s what we call prevarication, my dear ones.

5 thoughts on “My Hero, His Mother, and Pontifical Prevarication

  1. Part of my sorrow in this whole situation was when I understood the way our Pope has handled all of this. Somewhere along the way, doubts had begun to creep in…and now they are no longer doubts. I saw the Pope’s appearance (on TV) when he was at Knock, Ireland, where I myself stood only two weeks ago. I thought he looked very sad and tired at the moment I saw him. Despite everything, I felt sorry for him. Then, “Draw your own conclusions,” – heartbreaking.
    Judy R.

  2. I cannot comment on this Catholic mess anymore as I am a revert and hate to see this church that I left many years ago and returned to in total happiness has disintegrated because of such heinous sin and crimes. However , I now remember the words of St. Augustine and wish to center my focus on St. Augustine who is also my favorite Saint. He wrote memorably – “Lord have I loved Thee, O Beauty, so ancient yet so new….”. A wonderful statement for all converts/reverts.

  3. Fr Mark,. If McCarrick used the confessional with the Pope to his advantage….then the Pope can’t speak out about anything said …..right??

  4. Good question, Peggy. Bless you. In his testimony, Archbishop Vigano refers to information about McCarrick that was NOT under the seal, to which Vigano says he alerted the pope.

    You are right that if the Pope had heard McCarrick’s confession, then the Pope could not divulge the content of that confession. But the pope could act based on information that was not under the seal. In this case, that would include Archbsihop Vigano’s own verbal warning about McC, and the contents of the file, held by the Congregation for Bishops (a Vatican office) to which Vigano says he alerted the pope.

    Your question touches on a principle generally followed in the Church: Superiors don’t hear the confessions of those they might have to discipline (unless it’s an emergency). Instead they refer such a penitent to a different confessor.

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