Friday, October 11, 2013

More Catholic News at Week's End: Mess in St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, Francis's Reforms and U.S. Political Backdrop?

And in the still-looking-for-hope part of my life (in particular, part of my Catholic life), there are the following important pieces of commentary as the week ends, several of them commenting on the news of cover-up of priests abusing minors in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese about which I blogged earlier in the week:

In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SNAP leader David Clohessy notes that in the very same week in which the eyes of many Catholics were fixed hopefully on Rome, as the cardinals delegated to advise the pope on reforming the church held their first meeting, dismal news about more abuse cases (and cover-ups) was breaking in the U.S.--including in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese. David writes, 

So while the highest princes of the church were boosting the hopes of many, their colleagues and underlings were dashing the hopes of many.

Minnesota SNAP leader Bob Schwiderski comments in a media statement this past week: 

"There is no record of anyone contacting police. (Archbishop Harry) Flynn allowed (Fr. Jonathan) Shelley to return to ministry." Those two damning sentences are from the latest disturbing Minnesota Public Radio report outlining the secretive, irresponsible and likely illegal way Twin Cities Catholic officials hid thousands of pornographic pictures on Fr. Jonathan Shelley’s computer.

And Barbara Dorris writes in another SNAP press release:  

Yet [Archbishop John] Nienstedt [of St. Paul-Minneapolis] still refused to call police. Why? 
We suspect two reasons. First, it's clear that Nienstedt was concerned about his own clerical career (which is why he considered writing to the Vatican instead of calling the police). 
Second, we suspect that Nienstedt suspects or fears that Fr. Shelley is also aware of crimes or misdeeds - sexual or financial or others - by top archdiocesan officials. 
That's why we suspect that Catholic officials asked Fr. Shelley for his computers and apparently did little or nothing when Fr. Shelley destroyed one and refused to turn over another.

And last but not least, at his Christian Catholicism site Jerry Slevin wonders what's going on when "an over-hyped and under-performing recent meeting of the Council of eight Cardinals . . . failed even to address meaningfully any accountability of bishops for protecting child predator priests," and at the same time, Pope Francis announces that "a year from now over 300 childless senior celibate males will meet to review the rules on making love, getting married and having children."

Jerry's referring to the recent announcement of Pope Francis that a synod of bishops will be convened next October to examine "The Pastoral Challenges for the Family." Jerry's conclusion, re: what's going on here, is that Francis is continuing Benedict's approach to the abuse situation in the church:

Francis had a choice. He could address now after six months effective changes that would seriously curtail child abuse by making bishops accountable, such as removing criminal Bishop Finn. Or he could try to fight on with the disasterous policies of his two predecessors who never saw a bishop cover-up they didn’t try to hide. He has chosen to fight on, as he did in Argentina in the case of Fr. Grassi, a convicted child abuser.

Jerry thinks that the prize on which Francis has his eye in the U.S. is, as with Benedict before him, the Supreme Court. He suggests that the Vatican continues to try to nudge U.S. Catholics to the political right, and in this way, to try to assure that whoever is elected to national office in 2014 will keep the U.S. Supreme Court stacked with the most conservative justices possible. 

And so as I say, hope: still looking for it, with regard to the abuse situation in my church. And its interface with some very ugly political currents in my nation, with which it's clear the bishops of my church continue to collude--even as we're told that the church is now being reformed from the top down, and the accent is now on love, justice, and mercy, and not playing right-wing political games that damage those on the margins.

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