Paul Greengrass made the 9/11 movie–United 93.
Everything in the little worlds of FAA Headquarters, and Newark airport, and the regional air-control centers in New England and New York–everything began normal, a lovely late-summer morning. Then chaos, and a sense of utter helplessness, builds little by little. For two agonizing hours.
Yesterday, in holy Mother Church, the sense of utter helplessness built a little more.
Beautiful West Virginia had a bishop from Philadelphia. He used to run the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and I knew him then. He and I had a run-in with then-Cardinal McCarrick over a homily I gave at a friend’s first Mass.
Your humble servant celebrated Mass in Bishop Bransfield’s diocese just last Wednesday, the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, while I was on a little vacation in Berkeley Springs, WV, with my dear mother and brother.
We prayed special for Bishop Bransfield at that Mass, because his 75th birthday drew nigh. Time for a transition, since bishops must resign at that age.
Yesterday things got weird. The Pope accepted Bishop Bransfield’s resignation, effective immediately. The Archbishop of our ecclesiastical province left Baltimore to go to West Virginia. To investigate Bishop Bransfield’s evils. Without any public explanation of what those evils are.
Weirder still: The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, in Texas–Daniel Cardinal DiNardo.
Eleven years ago, Texas dispensed with any statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of sexual abuse of minors.
Cardinal DiNardo’s right-hand man for Hispanic ministry is Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez. Turns out that he has just been arrested by the police. For alleged crimes that occurred about twenty years ago.
He was arrested while Cardinal DiNardo was in Rome to meet with the pope to plan out how to deal with the crisis.
Paul Greengrass could not make a movie more excruciating than this. And the worst part is the utter meltdown of effective communication.
Archbishop Lori, of Baltimore, issued a statement, touching on “the troubling allegations against Bishop Bransfield.” What allegations? Over a decade ago, an avowed pederast priest accused Bransfield of sexually abusing a minor. It was a pure-hearsay allegation. The minor himself (now an adult) testified that Bransfield had never done anything wrong.
While Cardinal DiNardo exchanged jokes with the pope, his Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston issued a defensive statement of self-contradictory bureaucratic gobbledegook to explain the Father LaRosa-Lopez affair.
Paragraph one narrates a course of events in which the principle of zero tolerance for sex abuse of minors was manifestly not followed. Then the concluding paragraph of the statement insists that the diocese simply will not tolerate sexual abuse. And the entire upshot of the statement is: If there are any problems here, it is the fault of the victims, their families, and Child Protective Services. Not our fault. At all. Not us.
…Meanwhile, the pope announced a synod of all the heads of the national bishops conferences, to deal with the crisis. In February.
What will happen? The same thing that has happened over and over again for years and years.
The pope will tell the bishops conferences that they absolutely positively have to deal with this problem. The bishops conferences will say, there’s nothing we can do. Only the Vatican can deal with this. Then everyone will congratulate each other and go home.