31 August 2018

The crisis in the Catholic Church

For over twenty years, the Catholic Church has been rocked by an endless succession of scandals involving child molestation by priests, and actions by the Church hierarchy to cover up these crimes and shield the perpetrators from justice.  But just this month -- triggered by the grand jury report on sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, and a letter by a high Vatican official -- the scandal has erupted into a kind of civil war within Catholicism.  Conservative Catholic news sites like Church Militant and LifeSite News have been talking about little else for days.

One of the most highly-placed accused sexual predators is Theodore McCarrick, an archbishop and former cardinal, alleged to have preyed not upon children but upon seminarians and younger priests under his authority.  About a week ago, archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to the US, published an 11-page open letter claiming that Pope Francis, while fully aware of McCarrick's crimes, had lifted penalties imposed on him by the previous Pope Benedict XVI and entrusted him with increased authority within the Church, effectively condoning his crimes and protecting him from any consequences for them.

Now, given that the Catholic Church all over the world has been covering up abuse by predator priests and moving them around to protect them for decades and probably generations, it's long been obvious that doing so was Church policy all along and that the Popes must have known about it and condoned it, if not outright ordered it.  Viganò's letter, however, is a "smoking gun" -- an authoritative figure within the Church directly and credibly accusing the sitting Pope of a specific act of collusion with an abuser.  And so far Francis's response to these claims has been decidedly evasive.

The letter also accuses many other top men in the Church of being either abusers or co-conspirators, notably cardinal Donald Wuerl, who allegedly even defied Pope Benedict's sanctions in order to protect McCarrick.  In the latest twist in the story, Church Militant is now reporting that Pope Francis has ordered Wuerl to be secretly smuggled out of the US to protect him from a possible federal RICO investigation of the Catholic Church in the US.

These accusations have led to widespread calls for implicated Church officials, and even Pope Francis himself, to resign.  Here's Michael Voris, the head of the Church Militant news site:

It's startling to hear a conservative Catholic speaking in such terms.

Now, I'm well aware that there's an agenda here, on two levels.  First, conservative Catholics have long been alarmed at Francis's statements apparently backing off a bit from hard-line Catholic taboos on homosexuality, participation of divorced-and-remarried persons in Church rituals, and other issues.  But as Voris says, Church Militant and similar sites have always held back from personal criticism of the Pope -- it was a line they did not feel they could cross.  Obviously that inhibition is now gone.

Second, because many of the cases in Pennsylvania involved sexual abuse of adult or adolescent males rather than children, conservative Catholics have proclaimed that the real problem here is not pedophilia but homosexuality -- specifically a vast network of evil homosexual predators who have infiltrated the Church in order to prey upon victims (and, in some versions of the story, to bring the Church into disrepute at the instigation of Satan himself).  To them, it's an opportunity to reassert and legitimize the taboo on homosexuality itself and to demonize gays in general.

In fact, it's not surprising that many Catholic clergy are homosexual.  In decades past (when many of these men, now of advanced years, joined the clergy), becoming a priest was one of the few ways for a man who remained unmarried and never showed interest in women to avoid suspicion of homosexuality, suspicion which in those days was quite dangerous.  And since gay people display the same range of decent people to complete slimebuckets as the rest of the population does, inevitably some fraction of gay men are sexual predators, just as some fraction of straight men are.  Why so many Catholic clergy are among those predators is an interesting question, but we hardly need to postulate a Satanic conspiracy to explain what we've seen.

It is notable that liberal blogs and sites have so far taken little interest in the crisis roiling the world's largest and most powerful religious organization.  Conservative Catholics claim it's because of the homosexual nature of the scandal -- liberals, they say, will condemn pedophilia but are ideologically committed to defending homosexuality.  This is nonsense.  Liberals have no trouble condemning sexual predation upon adults, as the attention given to #MeToo shows.  I suspect liberals' discomfort with the crisis reflects sympathy for Pope Francis, whom they regard as a liberal reformer.  In fact, as illustrated by links I've posted on this blog from time to time, he's just as much of a hypocritical con man as his predecessors; most likely he's merely realized that clinging to medieval attitudes about things like homosexuality and divorce in the twenty-first century threatens to erode what remains of the Church's crumbling authority, and is timidly trying to adapt the Church to the times for the sake of its survival.

The crisis will pose a dilemma to the masses of Catholic laity, the majority of whom (at least in the US) are fairly liberal and not highly observant, and probably regard hard-liners like Voris as unappealing fanatics.  On the other hand, they don't condone sexual predators either, and can no longer avoid realizing that the rot of cover-ups goes to the very top.

Needless to say, at the prospect of an all-out war between bigots and sexual predators, I can only hope that they inflict the greatest possible damage on each other, and upon the arrogant, corrupt, and power-hungry institution which has dominated so much of the world for so many weary centuries.  Think of it, too, as a little belated justice for the countless victims whose abusers that institution has protected and enabled for so long.


Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

I enjoy watching the Catholic Church destroy itself from the inside, the bastards. I include Pope Francis in that.

31 August, 2018 04:33  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Debra: They've richly earned it. There's not enough popcorn in the world!

31 August, 2018 05:59  
Blogger Martha said...

The whole thing makes me sick. I can only imagine how many lives have been destroyed by this bunch. The implosion is very satisfying.

31 August, 2018 07:00  
Anonymous Rosa Rubicondior said...

If that story by Church Militant about the Pope ordering that Wuerl be removed from the USA to avoid an investigation is true, that's a huge story!

Has it been independently verified? A quick Google search here in the UK only brings up Church Militant as covering the story and they are understandably cagey about their sources.

31 August, 2018 07:05  
Anonymous PsiCop said...

There's a brazen irony here. Viganò himself is in this scandal up to his eyeballs already, and is certainly not a credible witness. As the Vatican's nuncio (ambassador) to the US, 4 years ago, he'd ordered an investigation into MN archbishop John Nienstedt to end. This had been confirmed by a memo that came to light a couple years later, one which Viganò had ordered destroyed (but which hadn't happened).

Nienstedt would, of course, still end up being shamed out of office despite Viganò's efforts to protect him. As part of the conservatives' media campaign to get rid of Pope Francis, he and his pals insist he'd never tried to end the Nienstedt investigation and that the author of the memo wasn't present at the meeting in question, so he obviously had lied. But the memo's author was, in fact, privy to the sequence of events, which matters a great deal: The investigation into Nienstedt had stalled (due to the law firm running it having quit); two archdiocesan functionaries went to Washington to discuss keeping it going, with Viganò; and after that the investigation never resumed.

What's more, the reason Viganò was nuncio at the time was because Pope Benedict had used the appointment to sideline him ... he'd been too vocal, and too militantly conservative, even for "God's Rottweiler." There's no other way to say this: Viganò's account simply cannot be taken at face value because he's a compromised and questionable witness. Yet, this is the kind of man the conservatives have gotten into bed with (figuratively, of course!) in their effort to run Pope Francis out of town.

In addition to trying to retroactively rehabilitate Viganò, the conservatives have added a layer to their propaganda, specifically, by railing against media "bias" and hypocrisy in light of Viganò's accusation. Their problem is, their campaign has been so obvious, the media simply cannot ignore the fact that they'd been gamed. So no, they didn't fall for it, and aren't going along with it. Nor should they.

31 August, 2018 07:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything published was actually very reasonable. However, what about this?

suppose you were to create a awesome title? I mean, I don't wish to tell you how to run your blog, but suppose you added a title that grabbed a
person's attention? I mean "The crisis in the Catholic Church" is
a little plain. You should glance at Yahoo's front page and watch how they
create post titles to get people to click. You might add a related
video or a picture or two to get readers excited about
what you've got to say. Just my opinion, it might make your website a little

31 August, 2018 11:52  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Martha: Yes, the public humiliation of these crooks is probably the only justice most victims will ever see.

Rosa: One never knows for sure until all the facts come out. However, Church Militant is normally very protective of the Church and respectful of the Pope, however much they dislike his views. I doubt they would report such a thing unless they were pretty sure of themselves.

Remember too that it wouldn't be a matter of Francis wanting to protect Wuerl out of benevolence. Wuerl is a Cohen/Manafort figure in this. He knows too much, and he might spill the beans to minimize his own punishment.

PsiCop: It's no surprise if Viganò is just as dirty as the rest of them. Pretty much everyone in the hierarchy must have known about the industrial-scale molestation and cover-ups, and at the very least, kept silent. Who knows? He's getting old and maybe he's started worrying that God might exist after all and he'd better do the right thing while he still can.

As for Francis, his evasive response when the media confronted him with Viganò's accusations pretty much tells me he's guilty as hell. An innocent person accused of things like that would deny it in plain language. Francis is hedging and dodging because he doesn't know yet what can be proven against him. I bet he's done ten times the shit that Viganò said he did. They all have.

Anon: I suppose I could come up with a more click-baity title like "Molesting priests HATE this man!!!" or "XXX steamy underage gay sex orgies raise eyebrows in Penn" or whatever. But I seem to do OK for readers.

31 August, 2018 16:18  
Blogger Ami said...

Interesting reading.

I have very little experience with the Catholic church, although some teen friends of mine invited me to attend their evening catechism for a time while we were all in high school.

I found it astonishing, all the little rituals and asking forgiveness and wearing of trinkets and kneeling and standing and kneeling and standing and listening to how sinful we all were.

A priest in our little town several years later was suspected of molestation. He had slumber parties at the parish hall, during which his current favorite boy got to "sleep" with the father on his special Snoopy sheets.

One of my brother's friends, when asked if the allegations were true, said, "I don't know, I haven't gotten to sleep next to him yet."

regarding making your blog more splashy/attention getting, I suppose that would depend on what you're wanting to accomplish with your words. Are you trying to build a following and become blog famous? Or are you more like the bloggers who, like me, just want a platform to say whatever the hell they want?

And clickbait's no fun unless there are exciting pictures and blinking stuff.
Actually, clickbait's not fun anyway.

31 August, 2018 16:56  
Anonymous NickM said...

Apparently The British Library contains books so vile, perverse and evil they can only be opened in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I guess they are probably not all that. I hve read stuff by the Marquis De Sade and I was well bored. If you want stuff on the Catholic Church then go Anglo-Irish with Dave Allen and Father Ted.

31 August, 2018 23:40  
Anonymous Rosa Rubicondior said...


Thanks, that makes sense.

01 September, 2018 03:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ami: That ties in with the point I made at the end of this post -- any unfamiliar religion looks bizarre, and to many Americans these days, Christianity is unfamiliar enough to seem just weird. It can even seem like something out of sheer fantasy.

I'm definitely the "platform to say whatever the hell they want" type. If it gets an audience, so much the better, but I'm not going to compromise my standards. or idiosyncrasies.

Most clickbait is just a thinly-disguised way to get people to look at ads, and I don't have ads, so what would be the point?

Nick: The Archbishop won't let anybody have a wank over the hard stuff unless he gets a piece of the action? Who knew?

Rosa: I wouldn't put anything past these people. Sexual predators and their enablers aren't likely to be morally-squeamish people in any area.

01 September, 2018 07:40  
Blogger Donna said...

Related—just read this and was horrified.

01 September, 2018 10:05  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Donna: I read that article after Scottie linked to it. Sickening stuff. Those nuns weren't sexual predators, but they were monsters nevertheless. I'm convinced the enforced celibacy has something to do with it.

01 September, 2018 17:43  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I was actually going through your links weekly deal, but read this, and it made me wonder, if it's possible, that the "reason" why the Pope may have relaxed some in the past on homosexuality (gays), is because he was trying to pave the way for forgiveness of homosexual priest that practiced paedophilia. I mean, I never thought about that till I read your posting here. Nonetheless, YES, it should fall into RICO, you can expand the RICO (what I read in Forbes) to cover certain sexual things like this, just some legal stuff I was looking up, to see if there was a way to consider this as organized crime, in my view it is.

02 September, 2018 16:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

If RICO is for "corrupt organizations", the Catholic Church certainly qualifies. They make the mafia look like, well, choirboys.

The hierarchy will never clean up their own act. They must be smashed with the full power of national police authority.

02 September, 2018 18:02  

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