Saturday, April 26, 2014

Colleen Baker on Opus Dei's Spin-Doctoring of John Paul II's Record, Father Tom Doyle on What John Paul Knew When

At her Enlightened Catholicism site, Colleen Baker points out that the Vatican spin doctors who are now trying to spin Pope John Paul II's abysmal record vis-a-vis the abuse crisis prior to his canonization (I wrote about this yesterday) are Opus Dei folks: they belong to the powerful, exceptionally wealthy, secretive right-wing Catholic organization that has had increasing influence on the governance of the Catholic church from the papacy of John Paul II forward. Here's Colleen on this:

This morning Joshua McElwee posted an article for the NCR in which two very prominent JPII apologists attempt to convince us JPII acted with expediency on clergy sexual abuse.  The two men are, American neocon George Weigel and JPII's papal spokesman Dr Jaoquin Navarro-Valls.  Both are closely connected with Opus Dei.  This is important because JPII decreed Opus Dei a Personal Prelature of the Papacy.  This act essentially took OD beyond the control of any local bishop, gave OD a great deal of freedom to operate, and paid back some debts. (For some reason, 'Lannister's always pay their debts' comes to mind.) 
John Paul II derived great deal of benefit from his association with Opus Dei....all the way to and through out his papacy.  Now that their 'pope' has taken hit after hit in the major news outlets over his handling (mishandling) of the clerical abuse scandal, Opus Dei has brought out their best spinners to defend the soon to be Saint John Paul II.

At National Catholic Reporter, Father Tom Doyle vigorously rebuts Weigel's and Navarro-Valls's spin, because, as it happens, he was there: he was in the middle of the process by which important information was being transmitted to the Vatican about the abuse situation in the period in which Weigel and Navarro-Valls say the Vatican did not have information and did not understand the situation. Doyle:

George Weigel claimed there was an information gap between the United States and the Holy See in 2002. This is nonsense. There was no gap then, and there was no gap in 1984, when the abuse issue boiled to the surface of public awareness. I was working at the Vatican embassy in 1984 and have firsthand experience of the transmission of information to the Vatican. 
The papal nuncio, Laghi, then an archbishop, received a letter in the summer of 1984 from the vicar general of Lafayette, La., telling him that a couple whose little boy had been violated by Gilbert Gauthe was suing Gauthe, the bishop, the diocese, the archbishop of New Orleans, the papal nuncio and the pope. Soon after, the nuncio received the official complaint. From then on, there was a constant flow of information from Lafayette to the nuncio and from another diocese that popped onto center stage for the same reason -- Providence, R.I. 
I was the conduit for most of the information and prepared daily memos for Archbishop Laghi. The usual procedure would have been to prepare a report for the Holy See, but that didn't happen at this stage. Laghi was on the phone to various officials in the Vatican, including the Secretariat of State, which is as good as going directly to the pope. In our conversations about the problem, and there were many, he frequently made statements such as, "I have talked to my superiors in Rome" or "My superiors in Rome" have said such and so.


Joaquín Navarro-Valls, John Paul's press officer, said Friday that he didn't think the pope or anyone else understood the gravity of the crisis. Other than the fact that this assertion is also ridiculous, a number of people in the church did understand the gravity: the mothers and fathers of the children who were violated and even the general public, who were clamoring for action even back in the mid-'80s. 
Navarro-Valls said after 2002, Pope John Paul immediately began taking action. Other than making nine recorded public statements, all of which were sufficiently nuanced to be innocuous, and calling a meeting of the U.S. cardinals to tell them what everyone already knew, he did nothing positive. 

Doyle's conclusion:

The sexual abuse scandal of our era has been the Catholic church's worst nightmare, and it has been going on for 30 years. The enormity of it all challenges the English language for words that can accurately describe it. The spectrum of large numbers of priests, bishops and even cardinals from around the world sexually violating children, one of the vilest crimes imaginable, challenges the capacity to grasp the enormity of such evil. Yet it not only happened, but it was enabled by those who have professed to follow the Gospel and lead others on the same path. 
On Sunday, the institutional church will accord its highest honor to the one man who, more than any other alive, could have ended the nightmare and saved countless innocent and vulnerable victims. But he did not. It was not a question of he could not, but he would not.

And in my view, this is a cause for great shame and not for celebration — the fact that the current pope will raise his papal predecessor John Paul II to the honors of the altar tomorrow, when  the new saint could have addressed but did not choose to address the sexual violation of children by Catholic religious authority figures that came to light under his papal leadership in a way totally unprecedented in the history of the church. As Tom Doyle says, when John Paul II did act, he intervened to do things like short-circuiting the investigation of the notorious Father Marcial Maciel, and things like promoting some of the worst hierarchical malefactors in the abuse crisis, including Cardinals Bernard Law, Roger Mahony, and George Pell.

Tomorrow's canonization of Pope John Paul II will be a shameful moment in the history of the Catholic church. It will undercut the program of reform that Pope Francis is said to represent within the church. It will do that in quite significant ways that I suspect Francis and his advisors have not yet begun to imagine.

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