Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, recently published an article about sexual abuse of minors in the magazine La Civiltà Cattolica.
Father Lombardi enjoys close familiarity with Pope Francis, and the Holy See publishes the magazine. So we can assume that it expresses the Vatican’s thoughts at this point in time. About the upcoming Big Meeting in Rome.
In his article, Father Lombardi misrepresents the history of the McCarrick case. In reviewing the events of 2018, which gave rise to the February 2019 meeting, Lombardi writes:
The former Archbishop of Washington was accused of sexually abusing a minor, an allegation that was found “credible and substantiated” by the review board of the Archdiocese of New York, and of molesting seminarians, and the pope removed him from the College of Cardinals.
First of all, McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals, and the pope accepted his resignation. Second of all, McCarrick’s resignation came not after the finding of the Archdiocese of NY review board, but after the publication in the NY Times of James Grein’s allegations.
Most Orwellian of all: Father Lombardi indicating that accusations regarding McCarrick’s “molesting seminarians” reached the ears of authorities this past summer. In point of fact, we have documentary evidence that a former seminarian accused McCarrick of abuse in 1994. A quarter century ago.
One thing we need to wake up and realize: The US bishops claim that, in 2002, they straightened their sex-abuse problem out. What they really did in 2002 was: Cover it up.
In 2002, they did not resolve all the outstanding cases lingering in their files. They did not admit that they themselves had failed to enforce the basic norms of human decency that upright people know without being taught. They had heard accusations of criminal abuses, and they had not investigated. They had not applied the Church’s own laws.
They, the bishops of the US, had scandalized the world by their mismanagement–their non-management–of sex abuse cases. That was the Scandal of 2002.
But they covered that up by pretending that the problem was the abusing priests. The bishops invoked the empty slogan “zero tolerance”–as if any sane person could ever have tolerated the sexual abuse of a minor. As if the divine law somehow used to tolerate the sexual abuse of minors, but now it doesn’t. Please.
What the bishops did in 2002 was: cover over the reality that stared everyone in the face. Bishops have a duty of governance that requires the prosecution of criminal cases under Church law. But they have neither the will, nor the expertise, necessary to do that duty. They didn’t have it in the 80’s and 90’s; they didn’t have it in 2002; they don’t have it now.
In February, the pope intends to try to do the same trick that the US bishops did in 2002. In 2002, the Boston Globe uncovered numerous unresolved cases of sexual abuse–situations involving particular individuals, in which the Church had failed to see justice done, under Her own law. Rather than face this, the bishops made the whole thing about policies.
Not the victims. Not the cases. Not their own egregious failures. Policies.
The Scandal of 2018 involves individual cases that no one has ever resolved. Pre-eminent among them: the McCarrick case. But the pope wants to make the Scandal of 2018 about policies. Not about his own failures. Not about victims. Again: Policies, policies. (And hopelessly vague policies at that.)
…Now, did someone savvy in Vatican City State intentionally schedule James Grein’s sworn testimony in the McCarrick case for a week when most of the world’s journalists are on vacation? Hard not to think so.
If so, perhaps that savvy cover-up artist failed to foresee that Mr. Grein would recount something this stunning: McCarrick abused him during confession.
May justice be done. But don’t get your hopes up. Apparently, “the Vatican wants this finalized by the second week of February–the entire case.”
Which could conceivably have happened–if someone started the prosecution last summer. If someone took James’ testimony in August.
But if you’re just now taking preliminary sworn testimony? Then conclude a just criminal process in six weeks? Giving the accused all the rights he enjoys under law? (Which everyone, even Theodore McCarrick, deserves.)
I don’t see how that can happen so quickly. So, either: 1. No just resolution to the case. or 2. A rush to unjust judgment. Either way: Same problem we have had throughout this scandal: incompetence at the episcopal level, including the bishop of Rome.
…Happy New Year to you, dear reader. We all know that everyone should be able to go to confession without worrying that the confessor is a pederast. We all know that when someone accuses a cleric of sexual abuse in 1994, his trial should have long since been concluded, without rushing, by 2019.
But the mafiosi running the Church don’t operate according to the basic standards of decency and justice which we all know. They operate according to some other strange calculus–a desperate narcissism, somehow both sinister and pathetic at the same time.