The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Culture of Clericalism Remains

If you wonder whether the Roman Catholic Church has learned anything in the wake of the three waves of the sex abuse crisis, this report of the reaction to the death of Bernard Cardinal Law, whose persistent reassignment of accused priests and stonewalling forced his resignation as Archbishop of Boston, suggests that the culture that enabled abuse remains in place:
Make no mistake: There is a political battle underway in Catholicism today over child sexual abuse,” a veteran Vatican watcher, John L. Allen Jr., recently wrote in Crux, a website that specializes in the Vatican and Catholic Church. “And its outcome is uncertain.”

It is sometimes not clear which camp Pope Francis is in.

For many critics, Pope Francis has not made good on his early promise to remove the deep stain of child sex abuse from the church. A proposed tribunal to try bishops was scrapped. In June, Francis granted a leave of absence to Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses, so that he could defend himself in Australia.

In September, the Vatican recalled Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, a high-ranking priest working as a diplomat in the Holy See’s embassy in Washington, after American authorities sought to strip his immunity and potentially charge him with possession of child pornography. The Vatican drew criticism for protecting its own by whisking the priest away, but said he would face investigation and perhaps trial in Vatican City. So far, no charges have been filed.

And this month, the three-year terms of members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors expired without any news of renewed terms or appointments, prompting The National Catholic Reporter to declare in an editorial: “That Francis has allowed this lapse to occur is worrisome.” The commission’s only abuse survivors had already left in frustration. Greg Burke, the Vatican spokesman, said, “The pope is working on it and will name members as soon as he can.”


At the conclusion of a funeral Mass for Cardinal Law on Thursday afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis will preside over the Final Commendation and Farewell of the Funeral Liturgy.

Ultimately, he will be buried in the small chapel between the wooden confessionals, adorned with the relics of saints and a centuries-old crucifix. Cardinal Law renovated the place himself several years ago, and supporters like Monsignor Di Ciocco believe he deserves such a place of honor.

“It wasn’t that he was a pedophile,” said Monsignor Di Ciocco. “He found himself having to manage a difficult situation. It’s not that he himself behaved badly.

“In my times, there was a different instruction. If something happened in a family, it was the role of the father of a family to hide it. Now it is all about the media and saying sorry. It was natural that he defended his children, the priests. We can’t criticize what happened then with the mentality of today. It’s not fair.”
The Monsignor's remarks are very reminiscent of those of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos in a 2001 letterbacking French Bishop Pierre Pican’s decision not to denounce a priest who was later sentenced to 18 years in jail for repeated rape of a boy and sexual assaults on 10 others:
“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration,” Castrillon Hoyos said. “You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest.”

In it [the letter], the cardinal said relations between bishops and priests were not simply professional but had “very special links of spiritual paternity.” Bishops therefore had no obligation to testify against “a direct relative,” he stated.
I keep hoping for the day when Command and Coercion is out of date, irrelevant.

That date is not, alas, today.

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