Smuggled Out from the Roman Synod Hall… (includes Card. Ouellet commentary)

As you may know, dear reader, our Holy Father meets in Synod this month with representative bishops from around the world.

The meeting occurs behind closed doors. As the “Information Secretary” Father Antonio Spadaro put it: “The fathers must know that what they say will remain in the hall.”

But here at Achilles and His Gold, we want to know more. So we trained an intrepid mouse named Xavier Rynne to carry a portable recording device under the Synod dais.

We reviewed the recordings so far, and we found that most of the speeches involved petty infighting, meaningless apologies, lame abstractions, and indecipherable nonsense.

But we have faithfully transcribed the intervention of Stephen Card. Fermoyle, from the diocese of Columbia Pictures…

the cardinal tom tryon

Your Holiness, Eminences, brother bishops: The Catholic people of the world have a religious duty to give us the benefit of the doubt. Yet we have still managed to make it impossible for them to do so.

They prefer to think about us prelates as little as possible. Who can blame them?

Our people would love us if we simply did one thing. Send them trustworthy priests. No sexual predators.

A simple enough task for us to manage. Yet we have screwed it up royally.

Here we find ourselves, in this magnificent echo chamber, giving four-minute speeches to each other. Meanwhile, civil authorities execute raids on many of our offices. The Church universal careens toward an international legal and diplomatic crisis. The Holy See faces the all-but-inevitable prospect of a confrontation with other sovereign states regarding the secrecy of our clergy records.

What are we doing here? Don’t we all have an obvious duty to resign?

Pope St. John Paul II taught: It is a doctrine of faith that the authority of the Supreme Pontiff derives directly from Christ, of whom he is Vicar on earth. No Catholic can doubt this. The pope serves at the pleasure of… God.

Every 20th-century pope, starting with Pius XI, considered resigning in their waning years. None did.

Pope John Paul II decided not to resign because:

He feared creating a dangerous precedent for his successors, as one of them might be exposed to subtle maneuvers and pressures by those who wish to depose him.

[the quote comes from Julian Card. Herranz’s account of a conversation with JP II’s confidante Stanislaw Dziwisz]

Then the first 21st-century pope, Pope Benedict XVI, taught us to think differently.

Many of us felt deeply betrayed by Benedict’s abdication in 2013. He had concluded that he no longer had the competence to fulfill the office. I disagreed with him on that. I thought: You’re competent to occupy St. Peter’s chair as the prayerful old man that you are. You don’t need to fly on airplanes. You don’t need to celebrate Holy Mass in huge stadiums. Just stay home, keep the faith, and pray.

But Benedict thought differently. He put a new concept on the table: A pope should assess his competence to hold the office.

Is it wrong to suggest to the Holy Father a good criterion of self-assessment? Namely:

Can my people trust me to ensure that the victims of sexual abuse get a hearing? And receive justice as promptly as possible?

From the More-Evidence-that-the-Answer-to-this-Question-is-No file…

mar cardinal ouellet
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

Archbishop Carlo Viganò and I now have something in common (other than being white Catholic priests with glasses). Both of us now have received letters from our ecclesiastical superiors, trying to make us feel guilty for proposing that Pope Francis should resign (because of his evident hypocrisy and incompetence in handling cases of sexual abuse.)

[Click HERE to read the letter I received. Click HERE to read the letter Archbishop Viganò received yesterday.]

Three points about Marc Card. Ouellet’s open letter to Archbishop Viganò…

I. The Cardinal’s letter includes a significant error regarding recent facts.

Ouellet writes that Pope Francis “divested [McCarrick] from the dignity of a Cardinal when a credible accusation of the abuse of a minor became evident.”

In fact: On June 20, the Archdioceses of New York and Washington announced that a credible allegation had been made, at some point prior to that date.

Then, on July 19 another allegation appeared in the New York Times.

Then McCarrick apparently resigned from the College of Cardinals. On July 28, the Vatican announced that the pope had “accepted McCarrick resignation from Cardinal.”

An honest lapse of memory on Ouellet’s part? Changing an acceptance of a resignation after a second shoe dropped a month later into: An immediate divesting of the dignity of Cardinal.

An honest lapse? No. Looks much more like a self-serving, convenient lie.

II. Card. Ouellet confirms Viganò’s earlier assertion that McCarrick had been disciplined long before this past summer. Ouellet writes: “The former Cardinal, who had retired in May 2006, had been strongly advised not to travel and not to appear in public.”

Ouellet also confirms that he informed Viganò about this, when Viganò began his tenure in Washington in 2011.

Ouellet then engages in a magnificent subterfuge, a subtle prevarication worthy of the Church-mafia.

On the one hand, Ouellet confirms what Viganò courageously made known to the world. Namely that the Holy See knew. Seminarians had accused McCarrick of sexually abusing them. Because of this, someone in the Vatican ordered McCarrick not to appear in public or travel.

Then Ouellet turns around and asserts: “At that time, unlike today, there was not sufficient proof of [McCarrick’s] guilt.”

Whoa, Nellie.

i. If there was not sufficient proof of his guilt at the time, then how could anyone justify ordering him not to appear in public or travel? We’re not talking about a period of weeks, or even months. Seven years.

For seven years, a Cardinal of the Roman Church was under orders not to appear in public or travel. But his guilt was in question? He might have been innocent of abusing seminarians?

No. Either the Holy See did McCarrick a grave injustice. Or there really was no honest doubt about his guilt. Which brings us to…

ii. If there really were genuine doubts about McCarrick’s having abused the authority of his office to satisfy his sexual perversity, then why did the dioceses in New Jersey pay out cash settlements to his victims?

Thanks to Archbishop Viganò (and Richard Sipe before him) the world knows something about these settlements. We know some of the facts about what McCarrick did. Strange, manipulative, craven sexual abuse of subordinates who would have risked their futures saying No.

If he had not done these things, then McCarrick, and the dioceses involved, could have fought the allegations openly. Indeed, if he did not do these things, then he–and the Holy See, and the dioceses involved–owe us all a vigorous, public defense of McCarrick’s innocence right now.

But, in fact, among those who knew the details, there has been no real doubt that McCarrick preyed on subordinates. There has been no genuine doubt about it for well over ten years now.

So: Cardinal Ouellet actually writes the script of The Scandal without even realizing it.

The Scandal is: The authorities who govern the Church cannot be bothered to adjudicate cases of sexual abuse. They have no interest in the truth. They only care about covering things up. So as to perpetuate the myth that they know what they’re doing.

Ouellet tells the tale of exactly how this cover-up by half-measures happened in McCarrick’s case. Over the course of the past fourteen years. In the Holy and Apostolic See of Rome.

…But we still haven’t gotten to the most genuinely jaw-dropping thing that Ouellet writes.

III. Ouellet acknowledges the perfect plausibility of Viganò’s insistence that he informed Pope Francis about McCarrick on June 23, 2013.

This was the essential point of Viganò’s testimony; it was the crucial fact. As of June 23, 2013, Pope Francis knew that Theodore McCarrick had preyed sexually on subordinates. And yet McCarrick continued to minister publicly and travel extensively, representing holy Mother Church as a Cardinal. All in flagrant violation of any meaningful kind of zero-tolerance policy.

The only person who could have disciplined McCarrick for his crimes: Pope Francis. For five years, the pope did nothing.

Ouellet denies none of these facts. Rather, Ouellet writes to Viganò about that day–June 23, 2013:

I imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information that [Pope Francis] would have gathered on that occasion about many persons and situations. I strongly doubt that McCarrick was of interest to him to the point that you believed him to be, since at the moment [McCarrick] was an 82-year-old Archbishop Emeritus who had been without an appointment for seven years.

Please, Nellie. Whoa. Stop, horses.

Your Eminence, can you really be saying this? A sitting pope, hearing from a sitting Apostolic Nuncio to the US that an American Cardinal is a known sexual predator who has ruined multiple lives–

You, Eminence, are saying to us, your people, that we cannot possibly expect the pope to focus on that disclosure? To focus on it enough to do anything about it sometime within the ensuing five years?

What kind of sick joke are you mafiosi trying to pull over on us Christians? Your Eminence, you have condemned yourself out of your own mouth. Twice.

Your Holiness, your Eminences of Rome: You are steering our ship, the Barque of Peter, into an iceberg.

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13 thoughts on “Smuggled Out from the Roman Synod Hall… (includes Card. Ouellet commentary)

  1. It truly helps to look up Xavier rynne…. then again….this post made me nearly ill…I see so many threads or posts in support of poor Francis at times the other hiarchy and for the life of me, I don’t get it…

  2. The Great Double standard, In politics,and religion.All we can do is PRAY to the dear Lord above.Thank you Father Mark!

  3. Thank you, Father Mark for sharing with us the truth although it is very disappointing to hear it. Lori

  4. Dear Fr. Mark,
    This whole atrocity, for scandal doesn’t begin to describe what Holy Mother Church is going through at this time in history, is a “no win” situation for you, both personally and professionally. Knowing you as well as I think I do, neither is of any concern to you, but it is to me and us. We your sheep, cannot bear to lose you our good shepherd after the model of Jesus Christ. The Vatican seems to be closing ranks in a defensive position and will crush all those who threaten her. You unfortunately are such a threat. In your zeal for demanding transparency and your desire for revealing the truth, no matter how ugly it may be, in order that true healing may occur for the victims, their families and us, the body of Christ, you are making enemies. This reality didn’t stop Jesus and I don’t expect that it will stop you, but know this. We, your flock, need you and priests like you. We need pastors who minister to their flock in truth and in light. We need pastors who preach the truth to us regularly, even when it is uncomfortable for both of us. We need the loving care and concern that you show to those souls entrusted to your care.
    What will happen to us if you are “punished” and possibly banished or exiled to some dark corner where the god given gifts and zeal for souls that you have, will not be put to use? I cannot imagine a greater travesty or waste than this. Is this not possible? In a world that celebrates sin and stuffs it down our throats every moment of every day and accuses us of intolerance, hatefulness, bigotry, and of being unloving and judgmental, where do we go when our spiritual directors have been sacrificed?
    I don’t believe that people want the truth. The truth has never been popular or pursued except by few, because the truth, when discovered is always accompanied with a choice, a choice which we cannot continue to be oblivious to, or ignorant of, any longer where we previously chose to hide while blaming others. This is what I see happening here and I am more than discouraged, my soul is crushed.
    I don’t have any answers. I don’t even really have any intelligent questions. What I do have is a gaping hole in my heart and I don’t want to lose you Fr. Mark, even if you have no concern for yourself. In my opinion, you have done all that you can, far more than those above you, whose job it REALLY is to deal with this matter. You have informed us adequately and it all is where it has always been anyway, in Gods hands. Please don’t sacrifice yourself for us, unless of course God requires it from you. Please know that you are not alone. I and many with me, pray for you daily, and ALL priests. What I haven’t figured out yet is, am I Jesus, in the garden asking for this cup to pass, or am I Peter being reprimanded and told to “Get behind me Satan.”? Either way it is love that compels me as I know it is the same Love that compels you.
    God Love You, Alex

  5. Perfectly said Alex – the absence of Father Mark would be a great loss even though I disagree with him half of the time.

    1. Bless you both for your kindness. I do have a strategy.

      I never wanted a conflict with Bishop Knestout. But he had the Vicar General call me to order me to censor a post. I knew then that things would get worse. So I took our conflict public when he upped the ante. That left him in a bad position: If he took any further action against me, he would be openly punishing a perfectly diligent priest–for the ‘crime’ of trying to survive spiritually by blogging my way through the worst scandal the Church in America has ever seen.

      So far at least, the strategy appears to work. Maybe he thinks, ‘I had better not take away his day job. If I do, he will have the time and mental energy to rage against the machine even more!’

      If that explains the current state of things, then God bless him. His motives are his business. I wish, of course, that I could be of one mind with my bishop. But when he wrote me the weird manipulative letter that I published, I knew I couldn’t go there.

      1. Dear Fr Mark. I just want to encourage you to be as wise as a serpent (but as harmless as a dove) and always act after prayer so the angels can inspire your moves. Others are resisting too. Our pp in _____ Australia was warned by the bishop of Parramatta (Vincent Long) because of comments in his bulletin. He was supposed to be ‘interviewed’ but wrote a deft defence and has been left alone-at least for now. We are somewhat lucky in that he knew he could appeal to Archbishop Anthony Fischer if needed and they have long been acquainted . A bit of push back sometimes scares a bully. These men are basically cowards or non-believers for the most part. .

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