As was reported in this space in the previous issue of The Angelus, retired Archbishop Theodore McCarrick presented his resignation from the College of Cardinals to Pope Francis following many substantiated reports of homosexual abuse of teenage minors, seminarians and even priests. Unknown at the time was the firestorm the findings against McCarrick would unleash both in the United States and reaching all the way to the Vatican.
Within weeks of the McCarrick resignation, the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania released an over 800 page report containing the findings of a special grand jury convened to investigate reports of sexual abuse in 8 of the State’s Catholic dioceses (the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was not included in the report as it had been the subject of a full investigation a number of years ago). The report was notable in that it exposed the malfeasance of many of the bishops in not removing priests who abused minors from ministry. Additionally, the report indicated that 80% of the abuses committed were against post-pubescent males—a fact which the mainstream media (both Catholic and secular) tried to ignore. The diocese of Pittsburgh accounted for the majority of abuse cases and the report specifically cited the malfeasance of the former bishop Donald Wuerl (now the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C.) in his handling of reports of abuse.
Soon after the release of the Pennsylvania report, calls for Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington became numerous, especially after his denial of knowing anything about accusations of abuse against McCarrick. Wuerl, who is now 78 years old, had submitted his resignation to Pope Francis when he turned 75 as is required by Canon Law, but Pope Francis has yet to accept his resignation. Wuerl was McCarrick’s hand picked successor as Archbishop of Washington and long seen as a protegé of McCarrick.
As these events unfolded, a few bishops in the United States issued statements which correctly identified the real cause of the current crisis: active homosexual bishops and priests, and those who cover up for them. First to state the problem was the bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, Robert Morlino. In a letter to the faithful of his diocese dated August 18th, the bishop stated:
“For my part—and I know I am not alone—I am tired of this. I am tired of people being hurt, gravely hurt! I am tired of the obfuscation of truth. I am tired of sin. And, as one who has tried—despite my many imperfections—to lay down my life for Christ and His Church, I am tired of the regular violation of sacred duties by those entrusted with immense responsibility from the Lord for the care of His people...Faced with stories of the depravity of sinners within the Church, I have been tempted to despair. And why? The reality of sin—even sin in the Church—is nothing new. We are a Church made of sinners, but we are sinners called to sanctity. So what is new? What is new is the seeming acceptance of sin by some in the Church, and the apparent efforts to cover up sin by them and others. Unless and until we take seriously our call to sanctity, we, as an institution and as individuals, will continue to suffer the “wages of sin.” For too long we have diminished the reality of sin—we have refused to call a sin a sin—and we have excused sin in the name of a mistaken notion of mercy. In our efforts to be open to the world we have become all too-willing to abandon the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In order to avoid causing offense, we offer to ourselves and to others niceties and human consolation...But to be clear, in the specific situations at hand, we are talking about deviant sexual—almost exclusively homosexual—acts by clerics. We’re also talking about homosexual propositions and abuses against seminarians and young priests by powerful priests, bishops, and cardinals. We are talking about acts and actions which are not only in violation of the sacred promises made by some, in short, sacrilege, but also are in violation of the natural moral law for all. To call it anything else would be deceitful and would only ignore the problem further...It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord. The Church’s teaching is clear that the homosexual inclination is not in itself sinful, but it is intrinsically disordered in a way that renders any man stably afflicted by it unfit to be a priest. And the decision to act upon this disordered inclination is a sin so grave that it cries out to Heaven for vengeance, especially when it involves preying upon the young or the vulnerable” (http://www.madisoncatholicherald.org/bishopsletters/7730-letter-scandal.html).
Following upon the publication of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, a number of State Attorney Generals have begun the process to empower similar grand jury investigations. The list includes New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico and Kentucky. Because of concern of the extent of the cover up by bishops, there have been calls for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to open a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of the Catholic Church in the United States. RICO allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing. The opening of a federal investigation under the RICO Act could see bishops arrested, tried and imprisoned for their cover up and open the dioceses in the United States to financial penalties as well.
The real bombshell exploded in early September when Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, issued a 10-page testimony concerning the McCarrick case which, among other things, stated that Pope Benedict had imposed on McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living; he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance in 2006. Additionally, Archbishop Viganò named those who had protected McCarrick through the years and noted that he was promoted to the Archdiocese of Washington and made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II despite the Vatican being aware of his sexual abuse of his own seminarians and priests. The testimony also stated that Pope Francis had lifted the sanctions imposed by Benedict XVI, brought McCarrick into his inner circle of advisors and promoted other of McCarrick’s protagés (Joseph Tobin who became the Cardinal Archbishop of Newark, N.J. and Kevin Farrell who became Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and a cardinal). After exposing these facts, the Archbishop made it clear that Pope Francis was well aware of McCarrick’s abuse, but made him a trusted advisor none the less.
Following the publication of Archbishop Viganò’s testimony, a number of bishops and priests have confirmed the truthfulness of his statements. When questioned by a reporter about the revelations, Pope Francis replied:
“I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested. Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions. It’s an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak. But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you.”
That’s good. Since this statement by the pope, there have been many calls for a complete investigation into Archbishop Viganò’s claims.
As for this writing, the Vatican has promised to issue a statement regarding Archbishop Viganò’s testimony “in the near future.” Also, after a meeting with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (President of the U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops), Pope Francis announced that there would be an investigation into the McCarrick affair (though no specifics were included in the announcement) and that there would be a meeting of the Presidents of all the Episcopal Conferences in Rome during February, 2019 to discuss the “abuse crisis.”
In what has become standard operating procedure when faced with legitimate questions or concerns, Pope Francis used his homily at his daily Mass to attack his critics circumspectly. He stated the following concerning the current crisis unfolding regarding bishops covering up homosexual abuse:
“In these times, it seems like the ‘Great Accuser’ has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The ‘Great Accuser’, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse’. A bishop’s strength against the ‘Great Accuser’ is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.”
From his words, it is clear that Francis is continuing to try and put forward the “party line” first put forward by the Vatican public relations team: that the current situation is the result of clericalism (“aristocratic life”). Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago and Pope Francis sycophant, tried to peddle the same drivel in an interview by saying that the root cause of the problem isn’t homosexuality, but rather clericalism (Cupich was roundly mocked for this as well as for stating that the pope has more important items to get on with in his agenda and that the Viganò testimony was a rabbit hole).
Although he does not mention Archbishop Viganò by name, it is quite easy to infer from his words that Pope Francis is equating him with the “Great Accuser.” Pope Francis seems to miss the point that the only bishops who are currently under attack are those who either participate in homosexuality or cover up for those who do.
He is correct, however, in his call to pray for bishops and particularly for himself—that they turn from their evil ways and become the shepherds Our Lord wants for His Church.
Pope Francis at Mass on September 11, 2018
At a meeting of Jesuits taking place in the city of Bilbao, Spain, the current Superior General of the Jesuits Fr. Arturo Sosa announced that the Cardinal Vicar for Rome, Angelo de Donatis, approved the opening of the cause for canonization of former Superior General, Fr. Pedro Arrupe.
Father Arrupe served as superior general of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983. He was born in 1907, and entered the Jesuits in 1927. After the Jesuits were expelled from Spain in 1932, Father Arrupe studied for the priesthood in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States and was ordained in 1936. In 1958, he was appointed superior of the Jesuit province in Japan.
On May 22, 1965, the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus elected Arrupe the new Jesuit superior general. He remained superior general until resigning in 1981 following a stroke. Under Arrupe’s leadership, the Jesuits began to embrace social justice as the center piece of the Ignatian charism (i.e., the Rule written by St. Ignatius Loyola for the Jesuits). This saw an increase in political activity of Jesuits, particularly in Central and South America with a concomitant embracing of Liberation Theology and Communism.
At the time of Arrupe’s election as superior general, the Jesuits were the largest Catholic religious order in the world at the time, numbering some 36,000 priests. At the time of his resignation in 1981, the number had declined to approximately 19,000 priests and as of 2013 the number was down still further to about 13,000.
Given the collapse of the number of members of the order and the “reorientation” of the Ignatian charism which caused many members to embrace decidedly anti Catholic positions, it is hard to imagine that Fr. Arrupe’s cause for canonization is even being considered. Unfortunately, with the current pope being a Jesuit, it is quite likely that Pedro Arrupe will take his place with the other heroes of the post Vatican II era.