Friday, March 27, 2015

The Furor in Chile as Juan Barros Madrid Is Installed as Bishop: An Update

As a follow-up to my posting this past Sunday, which pointed you to a posting by Jerry Slevin at his Christian Catholicism site talking about the furor that ensued recently in Chile as Juan Barros Madrid was installed as bishop of Osorno, Chile: today, in his "Morning Briefing" column in National Catholic Reporter, Dennis Coday writes,

You read this yesterday on NCR: Members of Vatican abuse commission question Francis' inaction in Chile. Now the Associated Press weighs in: Pope's Sex Abuse Commission Alarmed by Bishop Appointment. The issue is particularly delicate for Francis, who would have been familiar with the Karadima scandal when it broke in 2010, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. The scandal implicated his friend, the then-Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, who admitted that he shelved an investigation into Karadima in 2005 but reopened it in 2010 as the global abuse crisis was erupting.

Dennis Coday's first link points to an article in NCR yesterday by Joshua McElwee, who reports that Peter Saunders and Marie Collins, both members of Pope Francis's abuse commission, have made statements to the media expressing consternation at the pope's choice to make Barros a bishop, given what is reported about his cover-up role in the abuse scandal involving Father Fernando Karadima:

Saunders: "I am only speaking for myself, but as a working sub-group of the commission, we are all very disturbed by what is going on in Chile."  
Collins: "As a survivor, I'm very surprised at the appointment in Chile because it seems to go against ... what the Holy Father has been saying about not wanting anyone in positions of trust in the church who don't have an absolutely 100 percent record of child protection." 

The AP link above points to a story by Nicole Winfield also reporting on the comments of members of the Papal Abuse Commission. Winfield notes that five members of the commission have spoken with AP to express strong concern about the appointment of Barros to an episcopal seat. The statement which appears in Coday's report following the AP link is from Nicole Winfield — "The issue is particularly delicate for Francis, who would have been familiar with the Karadima scandal when it broke in 2010," etc.

Yesterday, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a press statement (by Barbara Dorris) which calls on Francis to remove Barros from his position as bishop. The statement concludes,

Pope Francis has made several unprecedented moves, like carrying his own luggage, cold-calling individuals, and washing the feet of Muslims. He should make a similarly but more significant and unprecedented move and oust this complicit bishop he just appointed.

At the Waiting for Godot to Leave site (a conservative Catholic blog), Kevin O'Brien notes that Catholic News Agency is seeking to spin the Barros story to make it appear that the church is under attack by its enemies, as people raise legitimate questions about Barros's past and fitness to be made a bishop. As O'Brien rightly points out, sometimes we Catholics, especially when we shift into tribalistic defensive mode, are our own worst enemies.

If memory serves me, Francis has asked the people of God to hold his feet to the fire as a pastoral leader. He has pointed out that the pope is not God and demands criticism from those who love the church. 

Catholics who really love their church do not let it settle for less than its best. Catholics who love their church will not rest when the church and its leaders betray gospel teachings and values — such as the teaching that the least among us deserve the most consideration. In the case of the abuse crisis in the Catholic church, the least among us are survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clerics. In the case of Karadima and Barros, these include Juan Carlos Cruz, whom I cited in my first posting about the Chilean story (from Pascal Bonnefoy's report in New York Times). Cruz states,

We are used to the blows by the Chilean Catholic hierarchy, but it’s especially hurtful when the slap in the face comes from Pope Francis himself. We hoped he was different.

This is not an enemy of the church speaking. This is Juan Carlos Cruz, a member of the body of Christ. To whom we have an obligation to listen. To whom Pope Francis has an obligation to listen. 

We hoped he was different.

(For a footnote to this posting with additional information, please see this subsequent posting.)

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