Pascal Bonnefoy reports for New York Times yesterday on the video about which I appended a note to Brittie Perez's great essay, which was shot by an Argentine tourist in St. Peter's Square last May, and released Friday. As I noted, it shows Pope Francis blaming "leftists" for the uproar that ensued when he appointed Juan Barros bishop of Osorno, Chile, and stigmatizing the people of Osorno as dumb.
Many watched in disbelief: There he was, Pope Francis, calling people in Osorno, a city in southern Chile, "dumb" for protesting against a bishop accused of being complicit in clerical sexual abuse.
"The Osorno community is suffering because it’s dumb," Pope Francis told a group of tourists on St. Peter's Square, because it "has let its head be filled with what politicians say, judging a bishop without any proof."
"Don't be led by the nose by the leftists who orchestrated all of this," the pope said.
The video, filmed by an Argentine tourist in May, was obtained by a Chilean television station and broadcast Friday, quickly instilling doubts here about the pope’s commitment to protecting victims of sexual abuse.
Bonnefoy quotes Juan Carlos Claret, a spokesman for Osorno's Lay Organization which has been spearheading protests against Barros because of his close ties to Father Fernando Karadima, a priest who has sexually abused minors (Karadima's victims allege that Barros covered up and was complicit in Karadima's abuse): Claret says,
It is the Church of Osorno that is demonstrating; we are not taking orders from political parties. We are now seeing the real face of Pope Francis, and we demand an explanation.
Bonnefoy also cites Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Karadima, who says that Barros was in Karadima's bedroom when the priest assaulted him and others, and who tells Bonnefoy,
The pope’s statements are not surprising, but it is sad. The vision of a pope closer to abuse victims has been unmasked.
One of several lessons I'm inclined to draw here: If the Roman Catholic church is to be reformed (and without reform, it will not thrive and possibly not survive), it is not going to be reformed from top down. To quote Sister Teresa Forcades once again, if we expect a "pope messiah" to reform the church, our hopes will be very badly dashed. The men running the Roman Catholic show — the 300-plus celibate males now gathered for the him-nod in Rome — will not reform an institution that affords them such astonishing power and privilege at the expense of everyone else.
If any reform is to happen in this institution, it will happen only because the rest of the church — the little people, those at the bottom — hammer away at the corrupt institution until it falls to the ground. As it must do if it's to be rebuilt on more lasting, more gospel-centered, foundations . . . .
(Yesterday, Jerry Slevin kindly provided a link here to the video at the head of the posting, in which the pope tells a Chilean Catholic that Osorno is stupid to protest Barros's appointment as bishop, and that leftists are behind the protests. This is the same YouTube video linked in Bonnefoy's article.)