Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cardinal Angelo Sodano on John Paul Beatification: Shut Up about the "Peripheral Issues" of the Abuse Crisis

Here's another indicator (to me) that makes the upcoming beatification of John Paul II sickening:

Tom Roberts reports in National Catholic Reporter yesterday that, when asked Thursday by reporters about the scandal John Paul II created by his protection of Marcial Maciel, Cardinal Angelo Sodano replied, 

How can you, in such a great moment, get into such peripheral issues when the world is applauding the pope?  I'm stunned.

The implication of this cruel, callous, horrific remark seems clear to me.  The huge spectacle being mounted in Rome this weekend is all about shutting up anyone who wants to keep talking about the real and inescapable problems of the Catholic church right now.  The abuse crisis, in particular . . . .  

Problems created by John Paul and bequeathed to the church as a significant part of his legacy, because

1) he sought to undermine the reforms of Vatican II from the very center of the church

2) he made the entire church hostage to a hyper-sacralized notion of priesthood that has deepened the division between the clerical elite in whose hands all institutional power resides and the rest of the people of God

3) he not only ignored the abuse crisis that broke open to public view under his papal reign, but he protected one of the most notorious figures in the church connected to that crisis, Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel.

And we're supposed to remain silent about that now, Sodano tells us.  We're supposed to be in such shock and awe at the goings on in Rome that we're stunned into speechless wonder.

We're supposed to forget about the thousands on thousands of our brothers and sisters whose lives have been shattered by childhood abuse by clerics, and whose wounds are re-opened by this shoddy spectacle.  We're supposed to ignore the thousands on thousands of brother and sister Catholics who have walked away from the church and who continue to do so, due to the legacy left us by John Paul the Blessed. 

What kind of bona fide good shepherd within a Christian communion would even think of referring to survivors of clerical sexual abuse as "peripheral issues"?  Here's the kind of shepherd Sodano is: he is one of the most powerful figures in the Curia, after John Paul made him secretary of state.  And his direct connection to the Maciel cover-up is well-known and has been exhaustively documented by Jason Berry.

As Berry has shown, Cardinal Sodano's nephew Andrea Sodano, indicted for fraud and money-laundering in New York in 2008, had strong business ties to Maciel.  Maciel's connections to Cardinal Sodano go back to the 1980s, when they became friends in Chile, where they cozied up to dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose regime tortured and disappeared huge numbers of Chilean citizens regarded as threats to the regime.

When John Paul made Sodano the Vatican secretary of state, Maciel wined and dined Sodano to consolidate their bond and to assure Vatican promotion of the Legionaries of Christ.  There are strong suggestions that Sodano and his family benefited in overt ways--i.e., financially--from money Maciel used to grease the palms of Vatican officials and buy protection.  Sodano intervened directly and repeatedly in the Vatican process that was investigating Maciel and his activities, even declaring at one point--with no authority from anyone--that the process had ended and Maciel had been exonerated of all charges.

At Easter 2010, Sodano interrupted the Vatican Easter liturgy to praise Benedict and to dismiss any talk about Benedict's involvement in cover-ups of abuse cases before he became pope as "petty gossip."

Sodano is, in a word, corrupt.  He is not far from a Mafia figure in clerical garb.

And he wants everyone to shut up as the John Paul beatification show gets underway--back to business, MYOB, we clerics run the church and it's going to remain that way?!  Shut up and stop talking about those "peripheral issues" that happen to be standing outside the doors of your parish churches holding pictures of themselves as children, showing you the real-life faces of children sexually molested by Catholic priests?

Sickening in the extreme.  And yet another reason I will be boycotting tomorrow's big Roman spectacle in my own little powerless, peripheral way.  The signal clearly given to me by the man being beatified tomorrow, during his years as pope, is that I and my kind are not welcome in his church.  No more welcome than are those children who were molested by priests.  Or the poor of Latin America tortured by Pinochet and other dictators.  Or women who seek to respond to the Spirit's vocational call within the all-male clerical structures of the Catholic church.

We're not welcome, all of us, in the church of John Paul the Blessed.  In the church of Angelo Sodano.  And, on the whole, all the pain of the savage exclusion aside, I don't believe I'd have any interest at all in belonging to Sodano's little church, even if it did pretend to welcome me with open arms.

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