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…
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…
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.)
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.”
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.