I do not trust you because you have misinterpreted what the moment demanded of you, from Day One.
Your predecessors gave us the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Out here in the parishes, we did not languish in doubt regarding the teachings of the Church. We did not hanker for verbose Roman Synods. To the contrary, on the day you took office, our parishes were humming with the business of communicating the teachings of the Church, contained in the Catechism.
We did not need a “new pastoral paradigm” to govern the relations between priests and their people. What we needed–it is now painfully obvious–was greater discipline in the ranks of bishops, and in the Vatican.
In the US, we have suffered a crippling scandal. All of it is attributable to the negligence of bishops, including yourself. The documents that scandalized people in Pennsylvania–all of them had been in the custody of the bishops there for twenty years or more. And bishops, including you, knew about Theodore McCarrick. Only you bishops had the authority to do anything about him.
Holy Father, you have spoken over and over again about the primacy of mercy. You misinterpreted what the moment demanded. For over a generation, no one has had any doubt that the Church knows how to act with mercy. The obvious problem we have is: the Church has forgotten how to act with severity. How can you not see that your former-Cardinal-Priest Theodore McCarrick has–in his brazen recklessness–exposed this colossal weakness?
What did the moment demand, when the first of McCarrick’s brother bishops learned of his predations? Mercy? Hardly. What did the moment demand, when you learned of it? Mercy? No. The moment demanded the just application of strict rules.
Do you not see how desperately the Church needs a severe father right now? A fearless and exacting enforcer of rules. A man whom sinners behold, and tremble.
Holy Father, by the year 2013, we parish priests–at least in the US–had made good headway in restoring order to parochial life. You have sat on the Chair of Peter for five and a-half years since then, and there is less discipline, less accountability, and less openness in the Vatican than when you arrived. There is less discipline, less accountability, and less openness in the Vatican–not to mention all the diocesan chanceries I know–than there is in the typical American parish.
You have gravely misjudged what the times demanded of you, Holy Father.
Your Son in Christ, Father Mark White