Saturday, September 8, 2018

Latest Viganò Commentary: "Vatican Receives a Letter in *November 2000* Detailing a Mess of Allegations Against McCarrick. Three Months Later, Instead of Sanctions, St. JPII Gives McCarrick a Red Hat"

In case you haven't been following every last bit of news about the Viganò story, I've done you the service of gathering a selection of recent commentary that updates what we've already discussed here. The story continues to develop right up to the present, with the denial published yesterday by Napa Institute co-founder Timothy Busch that he was involved in drafting Viganò's statement — Napa Institute, which gave shelter to disgraced St. Paul-Minneapolis archbishop Nienstedt after Viganò sought to shut down investigation of allegations that Nienstedt had been involved in activities very much like those for which Viganò is now scoring McCarrick. Here's more commentary:

A top official from the Vatican Secretariat of State acknowledged allegations made by a New York priest in 2000 concerning Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, according to a letter obtained by Catholic News Service.

Saint John Paul II died in April 2005 and can no longer speak. The Pope Emeritus Benedict, his collaborators explain, has absolutely no intention of saying anything about the whole thing. Pope Francis invited journalists to read what was written by the former nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò in his j’accuse that tries to involve three Popes in the case of the cardinal - serial harasser of seminarians (later discovered also abuser of minors) - Theodore McCarrick. Here is a comprehensive and reasoned chronology of the news that has emerged so far, along with the first denials of Viganò’s manifesto through witness statements and documentary evidence.  ... 
From Viganò's story emerges a deplorable and offensive portrait of the Pontiff now proclaimed saint. The former nuncio in fact recalls that John Paul II was "already very ill" suggesting he was so sick that he was no longer able to take care of the appointments, not even the most important ones, not even those that led - at that time - the sure attribution of the cardinal’s hat and therefore inclusion in a future conclave.   
In 2000 Pope Wojtyla had still 5 more years to go. That same year, in addition to presiding over dozens of Jubilee celebrations, he visited Egypt, the Holy Land (Jordan, Israel, Palestinian Territories) and Fatima. A few months before McCarrick’s nomination, in February 2000, Pope Wojtyla nominated the new Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor; then in June 2000, he nominated Edward Michael Egan as Archbishop of New York. At the beginning of the following year, as we shall see, John Paul II created 44 new cardinals in a single consistory. After McCarrick in Washington he nominated - to give some examples limited to some metropolitan seats only- Angelo Scola to the Patriarchate of Venice (January 2002); Philippe Barbarin to archbishop of Lyon (July 2002); Péter Erdo to archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest (December 2002); Tarcisio Bertone in Genoa (December 2002); Diarmuid Martin as coadjutor archbishop of Dublin (May 2003); Gaudencio Rosales as archbishop of Manila (December 2003); Lluís Martinez Sistach as archbishop of Barcelona (June 2004). Karol Wojtyla, despite the slow progress of the disease that was inhibiting his motor skills, is a Pontiff who continues to travel and govern the Church. Anyone who has followed Vatican events knows that attempting to present the Pope - in the year 2000 - as a man incapable of understanding and deciding for himself, is a falsehood (emphasis in original).   

An auxiliary bishop in the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese has said that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò told those overseeing the probe into claims of sexual misconduct by Archbishop John Nienstedt to "focus the investigation and complete it, [and] we did so." The statement appears to corroborate reports that the former Vatican ambassador attempted to intervene in the independent inquiry. 
The revelation came from Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who in a statement issued late Aug. 31 addressed the Nienstedt investigation in his most extensive public comments on the matter. The more-than-yearlong inquiry — which began in January 2014 at Nienstedt's authorization — resurfaced in recent weeks after Viganò levied charges that high-ranking bishops and Pope Francis covered up abuse allegations regarding ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. 
That in turn has renewed questions about Viganò's role in the Nienstedt case, which significantly shifted after an April 2014 meeting between Viganò, who was then nuncio to the U.S., and two auxiliary bishops. What began as a search to determine the truth or falsity of the claims against Nienstedt afterward narrowed to whether the allegations amounted to a "crime or grave delict," with the original investigators eventually replaced.
The allegations, which chancery officials began receiving in fall 2013, claimed that Nienstedt sexually harassed and made sexual advances to adult males; that he had concerning interactions with seminarians, including grooming and reprisals for rejected advances; and that he lived a "promiscuous gay lifestyle" while in Detroit and Rome. There were also concerns about Nienstedt's relationship with former priest Curtis Wehmeyer and an allegation that Nienstedt had had sexual relations with a Swiss Guardsman.

Massimo Faggioli, "Flirting with Schism": 

[T]he attempt to turn the anger of American Catholics, anger at the revelations involving former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, toward Pope Francis personally has not only failed but backfired. It has led, not very surprisingly, to a reconsideration of the role the two previous popes played in keeping McCarrick’s misconduct a secret. Francis is the first pope who not only took public action against McCarrick, but has also "accepted" the resignation of a number of bishops guilty of covering up for sexually abusive priests. It took less than a week—between August 26 and September 1—for journalists to begin filling in the real picture behind Viganò's "testimony": if a sexual abuser was allowed to become cardinal archbishop of Washington, D.C., it was because of what the whole ecclesiastical system under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI did and failed to do. ... 
Benedict XVI has become a symbol of resistance for traditionalist Catholics who oppose Francis's reformist papacy and see Benedict’s theology as more aligned with their own. It is too soon to say whether Viganò's "testimony," which unintentionally underscored serious problems with the way Benedict's Curia dealt with charges of abuse, will end up forcing them to reconsider their uncritical allegiance to the pope emeritus. What is clear is that some have certainly tried in these past five-and-a-half years to use Benedict against Francis and to signal a different obedience, in an act of defiance against the bishop of Rome that would not have been tolerated in an earlier age.

My translation of Massimo Faggioli's important points: the Viganò crowd cooked their own goose when they drew attention to what St. John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI did with McCarrick and the abuse situation.

By seeking to make Francis solely responsible for the abuse horror show and for mistakes made by his two predecessors, they of course have drawn attention of people who care about the truth and the facts to the records of those two previous popes. 

And the picture is not pretty.

To shift metaphors: the Viganistas have opened a real can of worms — for themselves and for their argument. Every piece of evidence keeps pointing back to the prior knowledge, by St. John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI, of McCarrick's behavior, which the Viganistas want to pin on Francis and take him down. 

The Viganò cabal does not care about this, about these facts, in any case. They are cynical post-truth folks who care about getting lies and invective out into the public square and stirring the hatred of folks for whom the truth and facts don't matter.

And in that sense, they may well have succeeded lamentably well.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, "The Plot to Bring Down Pope Francis":

Viganò, who is quite possibly incognito somewhere in the United States since penning the poison letter, has been drip-feeding anti-Francis rhetoric through conservative websites and anti-Francis journalists, including new behind-the-scenes revelations about how the meeting between Francis and Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was held in contempt for not signing same sex marriage licenses, came to be and who lied when about what. Now, even those who are trying to defend Francis have been forced to admit that everyone lied about how that meeting transpired, despite the official statements from the Vatican at the time. Those close to Viganò say there is plenty more to come.

I have not reviewed what I wrote about the Francis-Kim Davis meeting on this blog at the time it occurred, but my recollection is that I reached the same conclusion Barbie Latza Nadeau reaches: it appears that everyone was fudging the truth about that meeting — including the Vatican and Francis. Kim Davis and the ugly assortment of handlers who shoved her into the national limelight took the top officials of the Catholic church, both in the Vatican and the U.S. hierarchy, for a ride in that disgraceful scenario. Because the Catholic hierarchy are all too ready to be hooked by homophobia, in that way opening themselves to be played by this unscrupulous and malicious actors ….

Robert Mickens, "Sex, Lies & Viganò Takes":

But people must remember that this movement, in reality, constitutes just a very small minority of all the world’s Catholics. 
Its members include a number of journalists who write for mainstream and specialized media, as well as bloggers (mostly English-speakers!) who claim to be defenders of Church orthodoxy and who, without any qualms or sense of irony, openly boast about their deep dislike for the pope. 
There are also some bishops, priests and wealthy traditionalist Catholics from various parts of the world who give oxygen to the anti-Francis movement in various ways both publicly and privately. 
They are bound together by the very clericalist mentality that Francis believes to be at the heart of so much dysfunction and illness in the Church.

Christopher Lamb, "Culture wars":

On 7 April 2018, in a nondescript conference room down in the bowels of Rome's Church Village Hotel, Cardinal Raymond Burke was midway through a speech on the limits of papal power. 
Speaking in Italian and reading from a pre-prepared text, the United States' cardinal, a prominent critic of Pope Francis, started to explain the process of how to correct the Roman Pontiff. As he spoke to the crowd of several hundred, there was an outbreak of clapping and cheers before a small group suddenly shouted out: "People of God, stand up! We are the ones who have to act!"
It was a striking display of how visceral and vitriolic opposition to the 266th Successor of St Peter has become – and all of it at a location just two miles from the Vatican. 
Among the audience in the hotel conference room was Archbishop Carlo Mario Viganò, the former papal ambassador to Washington who, four months later, would launch his own broadside against Pope Francis. 
While Cardinal Burke's reflection that April afternoon concentrated on the canonical and theological limits to a pope’s power, Viganò's 11-page testimony bypassed the niceties of theology and went straight for the papal jugular, calling on Francis to resign. 
The explosive central charge made by the 77-year-old retired Vatican diplomat is that he personally told the Pope in June 2013 that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had "corrupted generations of seminarians and priests", and that Pope Benedict had ordered him to ­withdraw to a life of prayer and penance. 
Dig a little deeper into this saga, however, and you find that it also revolves around the idol of power, the love of which the Pope has railed against, with his many condemnations of clericalism. According to Francis, it is the concentration of power in the hands of a church elite that is at the root of the sexual abuse crisis and its assorted cover-ups.

[W]e need a clear-eyed, honest recognition that there is a fundamental problem in the system: clericalism. 

Over the years, the Catholic Church has taken strides to become more welcoming to the L.G.B.T. community. I am proud of that. What our pastor seemed to argue is that welcoming the L.G.B.T. community is somehow causing sexual abuse. Yet sexual abuse has declined over the years the church has become more welcoming. 
There are some Catholics, like our pastor, who would like to exploit the sexual abuse crisis to promote anti-L.G.B.T. agendas. We cannot stand for it. We cannot regress to this. 
We must protect our children from predators. The sexual abuse crisis has made that clear. But we must also protect our children from those who demonize people because of their sexual orientation. In all things, we must strive to be like Jesus Christ. Our children will learn from our example.

J.D. Long-Garcia lives in New York City, I believe. If he has heard an ugly gay-bashing homily in a Catholic parish in that cosmopolitan city, try to imagine what many Catholics elsewhere in the country, in far less cosmopolitan settings, are hearing now in their parishes. Imagine what it's like to be queer, connected to a Catholic community, and see the Catholic institution used as an engine of hate to attack your very humanity. There's much, much more of what J.D. Long-Garcia reports going on right now in American Catholic churches, I'm confident.

Misconceptions people may have about sexual abuse, sexual harassment and homosexuality as elements of the ongoing crisis in the church can hinder efforts to address it, according to a leading psychologist and expert on the crisis. 
The complex nature of each of the elements can make it "hard for the average Catholic in the pew" to grasp key differences among them, delaying the formulation of "good, smart solutions," said Santa Clara University psychologist Dr. Thomas G. Plante.

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