Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Important Statement from Catholic Women Speak re: "Letter to Pope Francis from Catholic Women": Who's Promoting It and Why

This is an important statement from Catholic Women Speak in response to the "Letter to Pope Francis from Catholic Women" being pushed by EWTN and other hard-right homophobic Catholic media outlets and websites:

The website hosting the letter offers no background information with regard to its origins or authors, and there is a disclaimer at the beginning which reads: "This letter reflects the personal initiative of the individual Catholic women signing this letter, and is not sponsored by any group or organization." 
Our research reveals that the letter originates from and is being promoted by a conservative alliance of American Catholics. We believe that those who sign it have a right to know this. It was initiated by the US-based Catholic Women's Forum and the URL reveals that it is posted on their website. The Catholic Women's Forum comes under the auspices of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, which describes its mission as "Defending American Ideals". The letter is being promoted by EWTN. In an EWTN interview in the link here you can hear Dr Janet Smith (one of the sources behind the letter) attributing the abuse crisis to "the presence of active homosexuals in the priesthood", and well-known Catholic journalist Alexandra DeSanctis defending Archbishop Viganò as "a very credible person". You can read Dr Smith associating the abuse crisis with homosexual networks in this article on Lifesite News
The letter demands a response from Pope Francis to claims made by Archbishop Viganò that in 2013 he warned Pope Francis about sexual abuse charges against the then Cardinal McCarrick and about the restrictions previously imposed upon the Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. There is now abundant evidence that, if any such restrictions were imposed, Pope Benedict himself did not uphold them, and Archbishop Viganò was seen publicly embracing and praising Cardinal McCarrick in 2012.

Once again: you may be as mad as a nest of hornets at Pope Francis for a variety of reasons. You may be furious at the refusal of Catholic pastoral leaders to treat women with dignity, and as co-equals in the body of Christ — and you should be furious about that.

You may be angry at the abusive treatment of queer human beings by Catholic leaders — and you'd be right to be very angry about that.

You may be beyond appalled at how abusive religious authority figures in the Catholic church have treated minors and other vulnerable people including women, sexually molesting them with impunity — and you'd be very right to respond to that abuse with rage and horror.  You may be beside yourself with anger at the cover-up of this abuse — a cover up that has gone on and on and on despite pretty words — and you'd be perfectly justified if you responded to the cover-up with such emotions.

You may want the institution to fall apart qua institution, qua a congeries of clerical structures, due to the refusal of Catholic pastoral leaders including Francis really to address the clericalism and the clericalist abuse of power that are at the heart of all of these problems — as I myself want to see happen. So that the institution can be built on sounder ground, on the gospel and Jesus Christ….

But caveat emptor: buying into what homophobic right-wing Catholics are doing with Viganò right now to cripple and even destroy the papacy of Francis puts you on the side of some of the ugliest homophobic actors now to be found in the U.S. Catholic church and in the church globally. Buying into and supporting what this homophobic cabal is seeking to do implicates you in truly atrocious attacks on your queer brothers and sisters.

And in the final analysis, Viganò and his cabal do not intend for the clericalism to be addressed, for the church to be reformed. They do not care about those who are abused due to the clericalist abuse of power.

Their agenda is something quite different and far less savory.

Caveat emptor, if you are thinking of buying any of these dirty goods.

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