Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Archbishop Viganò and our Vale of Tears

Greetings in Christ our Lord, my friends. I want to ask your forgiveness ahead of time for the length of this post, but as you know, these are very extraordinary times in the life of our beloved Church. News has been developing almost hourly. We are in a state of crisis.

The following post are simply some observations that have come to me over the past few days since the publication of Archbishop Vigano's letter on August 25th.

It is ridiculous how the media has played this as a "conservative coup" against Pope Francis. It is the Achilles heel of the secular media that they can only view any issue as part of a conservative versus liberal dichotomy. This is what the stupid two-party system has done to the American mind; binary politics leads to binary thinking. It's not unexpected, but it is sad. To secularists, this is just a political power struggle between conservatives and liberals. Unfortunately, many Catholics are buying into that thinking as well; for example, this dimwitted statement by Ave Maria University President Jim Towey. Yes, Catholic defenders of Pope Francis are also turning this into a political football, as when Cardinal Blaise Cupich said the accusations of Vigano were just a "rabbit hole" and that Francis was too busy to deal with the matter because of the "bigger agenda" of environmentalism and migrants' rights.

Of course, this "conservative reaction" narrative is ridiculous; I am not supporting a full investigation of American dioceses because I am a bitter conservative, nor am I suggesting Wuerl or Francis or anyone else resign because they are liberals. Wanting justice for those who have been sexually abused by clergy—and wanting to make sure Catholics of all ages and states in life can live their faith in an atmosphere of safety—is something that transcends the liberal-conservative divide. It is just a basic, fundamental good that everybody should agree on. It's disgusting that it is being politicized. But rest assured, Cardinal Cupich, this time Catholics are not going to be thrown off the scent. This time, no appeal to immigrant families or the environment or the death penalty or anything else will be able to save you. You tried to tweet a quote from John Paul II about peace and your followers simply responded with "RESIGN!" No, we're not being distracted again. This time it's your head. And Wuerl's. And Tobin's. And all the rest of you ilk. Even if you all somehow manage to avoid resignation in disgrace, the small semblance of moral authority you still think you possess is obliterated. The Vigano letter is just the beginning.

2. The story of how the Vigano letter came to publication is almost as fascinating as the letter itself. In case you have not familiarized yourself with the back story, I recommend the article "The Amazing Story of How Archbishop Vigano's Report Came to Be" on One Peter Five. It contains the English translation of the account of Italian journalist Dr. Aldo Maria Valli, who received and published the Vigano letter. Dr. Valli's story is illuminating and heart-wrenching; it presents Archbishop Vigano as a man wore out from a lifetime of dealing with the Vatican bureaucracy who is seeking to simply make his peace with God and his conscience before facing the judgement seat of Christ. But what is especially intriguing are Vigano's last words to Dr. Valli. Valli reports:

"He tells me he has already purchased an airplane ticket. He will leave the country. He cannot tell me where he is going. I am not to look for him. His old cell phone number will no longer work. We say goodbye for the last time."

Is the corruption in the upper echelons of the Church so advanced that a man must go into hiding and get off the grid for merely telling the truth? Clearly Vigano thinks so; clearly he fears for his very life. What powers does the Vatican have at its disposal that Vigano would be in fear of his life? Does it not put the sudden death of Cardinal Caffarra, one of the four signatories to the dubia, into a new perspective? This should really give us pause as we contemplate what sort of darkness we are facing.

3. Even the Neo-Catholics are getting on board. Steve Ray is calling for the resignation of Cupich, but more notably said "Even if the Lord doesn't come back for 1000 years, there will never be a pope who takes the name Francis II." He also tweeted "I never liked this pope...something from the beginning told me something was wrong with this guy." In a controversy with Ave Maria University President Jim Towey, Ray said, "Being loyal to the pope, THIS pope, is not remaining Catholic but denying it and being way out of touch with reality." Scott Hahn publicly thanked Archbishop Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, who had said the Vigano letter was credible and called for a full investigation into everyone implicated in the letter, including Pope Francis. Dr. Taylor Marshall apologized to Rorate Caeli. Karl Keating blasted Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, the latter of whom is publicly opposing a full investigation; Keating says the church should "welcome the sunshine" as a disinfectant, no matter who it brings down. It is getting harder and harder to remain neutral and aloof. Those who continue to defend the status quo are looking increasingly ridiculous. Everywhere people are being forced by circumstance to line up.

4. Of course, the big news on this front is that Michael Voris and Church Militant TV have finally gotten on board with criticizing the actions of Pope Francis. In order to not appear contradictory, Voris has offered the explanation that lay people should not judge the pope in theological matters, but that lay criticism is warranted when the pope's failings are moral. There is some truth to this; for example, if we look back at history, it took a body of professionally trained theologians to rebuke Pope John XXII for his erroneous teaching on the beatific vision; however, moral scandals of a pope (fornication, simony, nepotism, etc) have traditionally been more publicly derided by lay populace at large. I get the angle Voris is trying to take. That being said, I don't find the distinction of CMTV personally convincing, as in this particular case, theology and morality are all wrapped up together and have been for some time. The cover up of sex abuse has to do with preserving the homosexual networks within the Church, which is intimately bound up with clandestine efforts to weaken the Church's doctrinal teaching on homosexuality, which in turn is bound up with the rest of the post-Conciliar novelties. This problem cannot be compartmentalized. It is all part of the same general movement towards apostasy. The problem must be viewed in totu.

Of course, everybody has their thresholds; it's any writer's editorial decision whether they will or will not criticize a sitting prelate. All of us bloggers have had to make that call. I once got into a private argument with New Catholic at Rorate because he believed something Cardinal Kasper said was qualitatively racist whereas Kasper's statements did not meet that threshold for me. That doesn't mean I would ever attack or insult Rorate for making an editorial judgment different than my own. I have a priest friend who reads this blog. Sometimes he agrees with me, other times he tells me I'm full of shit (God bless you, Fr. Scott). We smile and go on as friends. That's the way it isor ought to bewhen you do this. One can't take oneself too seriously, even though paradoxically the things we write about are very serious.

It is thus unfortunate that Church Militant couldn't simply make that call on their own without calling other outletssuch as Rorate, The Remnant, and Steve Skojecspiritual pornographers. It's one thing to make an editorial call, but quite another to insult others who haven't made the same call as yourself. Really what's happened, as I see it, is that Francis has transgressed in what, for Mr. Voris, is his particular pet issue and now he is comfortable jumping in to the fray because his particular threshold has been crossed. I would like to see Mr. Voris apologize to Michael Matt, Steve Skojec, and The Remnant the way Dr. Taylor Marshall did. But either way, I am happy Church Militant has finally come around, and I have to say their coverage of this unfolding scandal has been top-notch. I like CMTV, and I also like The Remnant, Skojec and a lot of other bloggers. A lot of people have done a lot of good work; I've been reading Steve Skojec's Facebook thread daily to keep up on the developments. Everybody deserves commendation who has helped bring this filth into the light, regardless of how late they got in to the game. The important thing is that light is shining and the wheat and the chaff are being separated. God grant me that I may stand with Him and His saints. God grant treasure in heaven to those who have truly merited it.

5. When the McCarrick scandal was first breaking, I posted an info-graphic on the Unam Sanctam Catholicam Facebook page with some statistics from the John Jay Center, which researched the demographics on clerical abuse victims since 2002. The John Jay research clearly indicates that the abuse problem in the Catholic Church is predominantly homosexual in nature; that predatory homosexuality, not pedophilia, is the primary problem. My goodness, I have seldom got so much hate and ridicule as for drawing the rather obvious connection between homosexuality and sex abuse! So many people want to believe that the real problem is "clericalism", or a culture of secrecy, or pedophilia, or anything but secret networks of predominantly homosexual priests who use their positions of power to gratify their homosexual lusts. Anything but that.

That position may have been tenable even as recently as a few weeks ago. But now, with so many clergy speaking up about what they know and have experienced, with the fallout from the Vigano letter, I notice the chorus shouting "This is not a homosexual problem!" has grown far quieter. This is because it's becoming increasingly ludicrous to argue such. The real issue is summed up aptly by the official statement of Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, who wrote (emphasis mine):

"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....There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publicly-deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia—this despite clear evidence to the contrary. It is time to be honest that the problems are both and they are more...While recent credible accusations of child sexual abuse by Archbishop McCarrick have brought a whole slew of issues to light, long-ignored was the issue of abuse of his power for the sake of homosexual gratification. 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" (Bishop Robert C. Morlino's "Letter to the Faithful Regarding the Ongoing Sex Abuse Crisis in the Church")

Archbishop Vigano, who in his position as nuncio to the United States had a unique and privileged view into the situation in the American Church, noted in his letter:

"Regarding Cupich, one cannot fail to note his ostentatious arrogance, and the insolence with which he denies the evidence that is now obvious to all: that 80% of the abuses found were committed against young adults by homosexuals who were in a relationship of authority over their victims... In fact, Father Hans Zollner, S.J., Vice-Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, President of the Centre for Child Protection, and Member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, recently told the newspaper La Stampa that “in most cases it is a question of homosexual abuse.”"

More poignantly, in his conclusion he calls for the destruction of "homosexual networks", which he says are at the heart of the crisis:

"The deeper problem lies in homosexual networks within the clergy which must be eradicated. These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church."

It is definitely a homosexual problem, and Vigano should be in the position to know. But if you don't believe Vigano, read about the investigations of the lay association Christifideles into the homosexual networks of the Diocese of Miami. Or check out the candidly honest assessment of gay Catholic Daniel Mattson in his article "Why Men Like Me Should Not Be Priests" (First Things, August 2018), who notes:

"What unites all of these scandals is homosexuality in our seminaries and the priesthood...Because the sex scandals of the Church are overwhelmingly homosexual, the Church can no longer risk ordaining men with homosexual inclinations in the hopes that those inclinations turn out to be transitory."

Or read Rod Dreher's "Inside the Seminary Closet" in The American Conservative. It is a painful article, highlighting the first hand experience of a seminarian who had to undergo constant homosexual harassment and was even told "Come on, you must know that everyone is staring at you all the time. You know full well that every guy here including the priests and even the bishop would f*ck you if they had the chance.” Heck, go back and read Goodbye, Good Men again. Any of these sources will demonstrate that this is not a problem with sexual secrecy and the fact that some of the perpetrators happen to be gay is incidental. No; this is essentially and primarily a homosexual problem.

Can anyone read through all this material—the grueling experiences of men who have been through the seminary or (like Morlino and Vigano) are intimately familiar with clerical culture—and tell me straight-faced that this is not a homosexual problem? It's so painfully, ridiculously, hideously obvious that you'd have to be intentionally negligent and/or intellectually dishonest to deny the homosexual nature of the current crisis. Yes, I know there are other aspects to the problem. Of course, reality is complex. But from here on out, after everything that has been revealed, if you still deny this is primarily a homosexual problem, then you have zero credibility in my opinion.

6. John Kass of the Chicago Tribune has a poignant piece entitled "The Silence of Pope Francis and the Pain of a Church" which discusses how devastating it is for the faith of ordinary Catholics that the pope will offer no response whatsoever to Vigano's letter. Kass seems a little confused by the pope's silence, as he notes that Francis is "revered as a humble and good man" and he's not sure why such a "humble and good man" would drop the ball so colossally. I'm sorry, but I am just astonished at how could anyone have ever thought Francis was humble. I am actually appalled. This may be a little bit of a rant, but I need to get this out. I am so disappointed at how many Catholics went along with this idea that Francis was "humble." He's not humble. He's never been humble. Nothing he has ever done has led me to believe he was humble. I'm seriously astonished that anybody was ever fooled. From the first moment he stepped onto the loggia of St. Peter's I knew the man was not humble.

I remember, in my professional life, I was once in a job where I had to screen resumes. Every now and then I would get a candidate who would write about how he was perfect for the job because he was going to come in and improve all our internal operations, show us how to be more efficient, and bless us with his wealth of knowledge. I used to toss these in the trash. They reeked of arrogance, of a person who doesn't know how to simply learn and receive what is being handed on—the sort of person who isn't satisfied unless he's remade everything he touches with his own personal stamp. Such did Francis' gestures all seem to me: asking the people to pray for him on election night, shunning the red shoes and the papal attire, living in Domus Sancte Marthae, and on and on and on. He has never ever appeared as humble to me and I'm frankly astonished that any thinking person ever thought he was. But everyone seemed so carried away with the galactic humility of this man it was astounding (Related: "Humility and Station in Life").

7. Not long ago I did a post entitled "Bad Liturgies Cripple Evangelism", in which I lamented that limp-wristed, anthropocentric liturgies constituted a real barrier to evangelism of non-Catholics. Talk about obstacles to evangelism! This current round of sex-abuse scandals takes the cake. I honestly can't imagine why a non-Catholic would want to join the Catholic Church right now, and no, saying "They just need to understand it's Jesus in the Eucharist!" isn't going to change it. As I said in my previous essay, why would anyone care what we think is in the Eucharist if it appears (and quite reasonably at this point) that our institution is a criminal racket organized for the purpose of institutional sexual abuse? There are some who are leaving the Church now over these scandals; predictably, other Catholics are piling on them and shaming them for leaving, or suggesting their "faith wasn't strong enough" or whatever. But Jesus wants us to go after the one sheep who goes astray, not condemn them for leaving. This is only going to shrink the Church's credibility more, and this will only continue until, in the words of Vigano, the homosexual networks are eradicated. Heads need to roll this time. No more "we are deeply saddened" statements, no more committees with new plans, no more useless platitudes. Action. Everyone involved needs to resign and possibly face criminal charges depending on the gravity of their complicity.

8. One final consideration. Take a look at this chart of all the prelates named in the Vigano letter. I offer no comment on how complicit any of these men are in any abuse or cover up; I only list them here because Archbiship Vigano has implicated them in some degree. Look at it carefully and deeply consider it:

 I know there's a lot of things to consider and it's not this easy. Yes. But....I do want to say, this is way "Santo subito!" is never a good idea. This is precisely why you wait for the patient judgment of history before you rush to canonize a prelate.

9. This is a painful time for all of us. Has my faith in Christ and His Church been shaken? I honestly have to say no, but only because I never believed that this sort of thing couldn't happen to begin with. When the scandal first broke, my first impulse was not to blog about it, but to have a difficult conversation with my 16 year old daughter, who obviously has many questions and concerns over the current situation. I grieve for the souls who will be scandalized because of this. I think my faith isn't shaken so much because anyone who has extensively studied history knows that this kind of corruption is absolutely possible within the Church. It's only those who have deluded themselves into thinking this is a new Springtime and Francis is a saint that have to deal with the full brunt of this. As for me, I've never lost sight of the Church's human side. Am I horrified? Yes of course I am. Surprised? No. Unfortunately not.

And so we go on, through the Vale of Tears until Christ makes all things right.



Anonymous said...

Thank you. Spot on. The rush to endow sainthood was, in my view, to make them untouchable and beyond criticism.

Jack said...

How do you put together your desire expressed in 1. for all American dioceses to undergo a full investigation, with your very correct statement in 5. about it being essentially an homosexual network problem and not a pedophile problem, and your concerns expressed in 7. and 9. about souls falling away through scandal?

Who in the world is competent to set up a tribunal or inquisition against clerical sodomy? The secular authorities are not allowed by political correctness to speak of it that way; they can only speak of child abuse, which means dragging the Church's reputation through the mud even further based on accusations (only 2 priests of the 300 accused in the PA report have been indicted), and more souls lost through scandal.

Why encourage the media's campaign against the Church and the scandal killing souls? If the media were honest we'd be receiving applause and distinction right now for our progress in advancing homosexuality. The message would be: "Catholic Church more open to homosexual lifestyles than we thought, perhaps they aren't so bad after all!" ; "Catholic Church, refuge for minority sexual orientations."

So who's actually going to crack down on the sodomites? The only real option I see is the hierarchs themselves. The laity, however angry and self-righteous, do not have the authority to depose, remove, and laicise bishops, priests, and heads of seminaries.

I can't see why your poor daughter or any other Catholic's faith should be threatened by clerical sodomy at a time when sodomy is celebrated in public and awarded the dignity of marriage. Are these people going to leave the Church and enter a secular world where sodomy is celebrated openly rather than secretly? What good would that do?

We've got to see these sickening crimes separate from the media hype and panic which denigrates the whole Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

Boniface: This summary is much appreciated. Ever since the PA grand jury report's release, I've been asking myself how on earth we expect anyone to convert now. I don't know if it's all the more or all the less shocking that this is very likely due in large part to a near-total lack of faith among many prelates. Except for some outliers like Bp Morlino and (especially, to my mind) Bp Schneider--there are others, of course, not least Abp Vigano--how many prelates even believe in God at this point? Similarly, if there's no hell, as I'm even more sure many of them believe, or nearly believe, it's no scandal to turn souls away from the Faith.

I would like to offer one reflection about the Voris debate. It seems to me that in principle, at least, his "rule" for criticizing a Pope is backward. There's the ancient canonical rule, echoed by, I believe, Innocent III in his inaugural sermon, that the first see is judged by no one except in the case of sins against faith. In light of this, moral corruption, as egregious as it may be, would seem to be a matter less directly at odds with the papacy's constitutive mission and so would arguably require greater discretion in publicly calling out.

As far as the John XXII example goes, I have generally assumed that the propriety of rebuking a pope in doctrinal matters depends on the truth under attack as much as on one's own degree of formation. The debate over the beatific vision is, in the scheme of things, a fairly arcane theological point, and so was likely best left for the scholars to address, whereas the current (and indeed conciliar) crisis touches upon basic truths every catechized Catholic should know: the reality of mortal sin, extra ecclesiam nulla salus, the reality and danger of hell, etc. But I would appreciate your Church-historian's view of this question.

Boniface said...

Well that’s why I think while I understand where CMTV is coming from, everything is much too intertwined in the current crisis to make that tidy distinction. Fundamental doctrinal points are under attack; basic, essential Christian truths. Truths that are at the heart of our moral life as well as our faith life. It’s all one

Boniface said...

I’d like to see the secular arm invoked to deal with actual crimes. I would not oppose Pennsylvania Grand Jury style investigations into every US diocese. This would be for the purpose of uncovering criminal activity and criminal cover up.

As for the eradication of the homosexual networks, that would have to come from within the Church as part of a general reform of morals and governance

Jack said...

Indeed, a general reform, which will require a overhaul like that of Trent. Apparently the Church is in the iron grip of the "Lavender Mafia" right now though, and practically all are too scared to speak out. Viganó himself fled into hiding.

Investigations might be good if handled in the proper manner and aimed more at justice and reparation for the victims rather than the public vilification of the Church. I'm not sure that the PA grand jury was really like this, seeing as they only had enough evidence to bring 2 of the 300 accused to trial (among those that aren't dead.) It's very difficult at the moment because the Church has no real allies. She's stranded in a sea of secularism which aims to sink and bury her forever, barely keeping afloat, while her own crew bores holes into her hull. No friends without, and few friends within. It's hard to be so critical of the Church herself in this situation, bur many want to cast the blame on her while Catholics jump overboard in despair.

anoniman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karl said...

Sometimes I wish the rules weren't so clear in religion, as in the fact that we don't have the right to take justice into our own hands. How satisfying it'd be to be part of some zealous and covert counter-network making these prelates and their friends disappear. Back to the barbaric practice of trial by ordeal.

Is that a forbidden thought? I doubt I'm the only one slipping into day-dreams of the kind.

Athelstane said...

"That doesn't mean I would ever attack or insult Rorate for making an editorial judgment different than my own."

Rorate got fairly dog-piled for making a direct assault on Francis, by means of reproduction of a J'Accuse commentary by Argentine traditionalist Marcelo Gonzalez, within hours of his election; suffice to say that skepticism towards this pontificate has grown far beyond the hard traditionalist online cells; and, yes, some critics of the time like Taylor Marshall have since apologized to Rorate.

Far be it from me to dispute much of Gonzalez's characterizations of Jorge Maria Bergoglio, which have been largely borne out in Rome over the past five years, even if you have yet to read THE DICTATOR POPE. The problem for Rorate was Gonzalez himself, who, it became clear, really *did* have a record of Holocaust revisionism and what amounted to a flirtation with anti-Semitism in his public commentary. And this provided a vast, wide avenue of attack on Rorate in the ensuing weeks by a number of critics (many of whom I have little brief for), and before long, the debate became almost entirely about Marcelo Gonzalez and the anti-Semitic "soft white underbelly of traditionalism" rather than the character of Jorge Maria Bergoglio. Faced with all this, New Catholic, of course, doubled down, albeit in evasive ways. Eager to register his indictment of the profoundly problematic Peronista ordinary of Buenos Aires as quickly as possible, he grabbed the first witness to hand despite the baggage that witness brought with him, and was unwilling to cede an inch of terrain not just to the likes of Mark Shea, Dawn Eden, or Fr Angelo Geiger, but even Taylor Marshall.

I bring all this up not to throw Rorate (which has a lengthy slate of fairly diverse bloggers, with some highly respectable names such as Joseph Shaw and Peter Kwasniewski and guest contributors like Roberto de Mattei) back in the doghouse, but to remind us of the ways in which some traditionalist outlets can be their own worst enemies, even when they're proven correct on substance.

Boniface said...

That’s a very valid observation Athelstane. That’s been my experience with them as well.

By the way, nice to see you back. It’s been awhile.

Athelstane said...

Hell Boniface,

I lurk a lot more than I comment!

Anonymous said...

I read this post on Saturday. On Sunday I attended mass at my parish in Highwood, IL.

The bad news: the Chicago Archdiocese steered its priests to preach about immigration and migration. The whole service, before, during and after - well I don't know about after, I departed after communion not being able to handle the bromides posed as gospel - went on and on and on... and on about the intrinsic goodness of immigrants seeking a better life.

The good news: connecting the dots from mass back to this article, Soupy Cupich clearly has a limited repitoire of defenses (or offenses) when challenged. Dusted of the "meh-immigration" talking points and moved right on from examining the horrible sins if not criminal behavior within the ranks of the priesthood.

The prior week, all Chicago churches read his explanation of his explanation on TV of Bergolio's incoherent and certainly insufficient reaction to Blessed Cardinal Vigano's letter. I spoke briefly to the Vicar General following mass, sent to Highwood to likely assure us "nothing to see here" and told him how lame it is to explain an explanation...

In any event, we have their blueprint of operations as I have witnessed and we have our cold fury. Let's prevail!

TN Papist said...

I am not sure about the other links, but consider leaving a stronger warning for the Rod Dreher article.