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Francis The Plastic Pope

You stand accused by a former papal diplomat of covering up the serial sexual molestation of a top cardinal, despite your public claim of devotion to “transparency.” You refuse to answer reporters’ questions about the detailed charges. Senior Vatican officials are also charged with complicity in this same cover-up, which is shaking the American church — a church that is already reeling from a state grand jury report detailing monstrous sexual abuse of at least 1,000 children by priests, and episcopal indifference to those children’s fate.

In the pages of the Washington Post, a prominent Catholic who is sick to death of the corruption that you cannot or will not root out that he calls on the state attorneys general and the US Department of Justice to investigate the Church [1] you lead:

One thing is for certain: We are not going to get the truth about the abuse of the past 30 years from this Church hierarchy, so there is no other choice but to ask the government to go forth and find it. That doesn’t mean giving up. It means refusing to be fooled again.

And you and your accused cardinals do nothing but stonewall, hoping it will go away. Meanwhile, you have more important things to worry about:

This is quite insane. Just suicidal. Meanwhile, not every journalist has the charism of infinite patience, or is willing to eat the lotuses:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [4]

UPDATE: Perhaps master strategist Cardinal Weinstein benefited from the kind of Ignatian exercises [5] the Jesuit pope does:

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45 Comments To "Francis The Plastic Pope"

#1 Comment By Elijah On September 1, 2018 @ 4:00 pm

“Might this be a way to heal the legacy of institutional idolatry, starting with McCarrick?”

No. And what self-serving claptrap: no journalistic light-shining would be necessary if the pope and his cardinals etc. would simply release documents. Or respond to requests for information. Ow own up to basically anything.

This is trying to shift responsibility on to others: if journalists can’t find anything because the Vatican stonewalls everyone, does that somehow mean there’s nothing to see?

Of course not. With friends like this, the Catholic Church’s decline will only be accelerated.

#2 Comment By will On September 1, 2018 @ 4:01 pm

How it’s done.

[6]

Note that the Brompton Oratory (called out, btw, in a lovely song called ‘Brompton Oratory’ by Nick Cave)is the epicentre of orthodox Catholic life in London.

Don’t despair, folks. At all!

#3 Comment By Lamm2 On September 1, 2018 @ 4:06 pm

Let’s not forget the Chilean victims (see latest news below). Or that the Hondurans have been effectively gagged under the tyranny of the monster bishop that Frances appointed.

8/31/18
(Reuters) – The number of cases of abuse in Chile’s Roman Catholic Church under investigation by prosecutors has more than tripled to 119 in the past month, the national prosecuting authority said on Friday.

Among the 167 people under investigation are seven bishops and 96 priests, accused of unspecified abuses of 178 alleged victims, including 79 minors, the authority said.

Chilean prosecutors say Church abuse investigations triple
[7]

#4 Comment By Jeffersonian On September 1, 2018 @ 4:09 pm

Just on the plastics in the ocean issue, I believe I have heard that most of what is out in the oceans is detritus from the fishing industry which has coagulated around central ocean areas, not plastic bottles or straws you put in land based trash cans. Also the idea that there is a Trash Island out in the middle of the Pacific is patently false.

#5 Comment By Windswept House On September 1, 2018 @ 4:18 pm

This plasticity is a Hail Mary pass by PF. “HELP me liberal media!!! I am one of you!! Change the subject ’cause this oven I’m in is hotter than Hades. Use your professional maturity and do your job to PROTECT ME!!!!!

#6 Comment By Clare Krishan On September 1, 2018 @ 4:20 pm

Your opinion on the weighty US foreign policy impact of the Patriarch of Moscow (ie your church home now) visiting the Phanar… finally?

[8]

The Pontifical Mission societies are already on it (the Pope’s not all plastic all the time, y’know):

[9]

Even Sr. Vassa has commented to her zillions on her Youtube channel earlier, you’re risking getting a little stale!

[NFR: The Patriarch of Moscow is not the head of my church. I’m in the OCA. When there is news out of this meeting, I’ll comment on it. I’m hearing that Bartholomew said that he’s going to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church, but that has not been confirmed. If it’s confirmed, that’s big news, though I’m going to have to explain why to my readers. — RD]

#7 Comment By JamesP On September 1, 2018 @ 4:29 pm

Plastic in the ocean is indeed an emergency that needs to be solved quickly. If the pope headed a church with public moral authority rather than one now revealed to facilitate and shield its clergy’s buggery, molestation, rape, theft, blackmail, and lies for at least decades on massive global scale, his entreaties about plastic might move important hearts to take better action. What a missed opportunity.

I don’t want to hear any more mea culpas, condemnations of child abuse, sympathy for abuse survivors or anything else from the pope and his ilk. At this point, it’s as much of a decoy as pontificating about climate change, immigration, or plastic.

#8 Comment By Windswept House On September 1, 2018 @ 4:30 pm

Somewhere in this Vatican vaudeville act is a Saturday Night Live skit. Any suggestions on who plays PF from the all-star cast? Chris Farley, perhaps?

#9 Comment By Norm On September 1, 2018 @ 5:17 pm

The Vatican is obviously employing the Clinton Defense. Stonewall continuously, ignore all questions and accusations, question the motives of your accusers, count on your allies in the media to cover for you, and as soon as the Next Big News Story comes along, the fickle public will lose interest and move on.

#10 Comment By Bob On September 1, 2018 @ 5:27 pm

Leaving alone for now the pastoral obligation to be holy and to teach other’s how to be holy, conspicuously absent in ANY religious congregation, by and large, and leaving quite alone, also, these unholy flocks elect comfort zone leaders allowing them to live as they please…..

Who mentions all these faceless drones in various churches/parishes/chanceries, making a living off the Church, doing whatever directed, issuing whatever statement required, prostituting themselves for the almightly dollar, many lacking any actually employable job skills…

And who will still be there, after every scandal blows over, enabling the next one to get a running start…

Nobody ever mentions these people behind the people, “I was just following orders…”

I think of these people after every issued statement from some organization…they will still be there….

#11 Comment By David J. White On September 1, 2018 @ 5:29 pm

Nothing-to-see-here-All-is-well members of the clergy and Catholic commentariat are increasingly reminding me of Baghdad Bob.

#12 Comment By Harve On September 1, 2018 @ 5:56 pm

At this rate everyone is going to be ticked off. If Francis is attempting to use real and existential issues like climate change and the plastic mess in our oceans as a diversion or as a dog whistle for lefties like me while ignoring the corruption in his sand box, it isn’t going to work.

Oh, and shame on those whose disgust for how this is being handled lead them to trivialize other, far more important matters. You want to end abuse and corruption by a self-selected, unaccountable hierarchy? End the hierarchy – seems simple enough. Doing a coup and putting in a new crew while keeping the old notions is a fools game.

#13 Comment By MikeS On September 1, 2018 @ 6:27 pm

He’s doing this because he thinks it will work. He’s betting that between a pro-gay media and a largely passive and/or indifferent laity, he thinks he can get away with it.

#14 Comment By Gracie On September 1, 2018 @ 6:27 pm

Is it possible that the RCC hierarchy are naught but trolls? I mean, if the only thing coming out of your mouth is so insanely tone-deaf and off-base, then, yeah, I see why you’re better off keeping your mouth shut. It’s hard to see how any of them have any credibility left at this point.

#15 Comment By charles cosimano On September 1, 2018 @ 7:27 pm

The Papal strategy is quite simple. He makes himself so utterly ridiculous that no one can stay mad at him because they are laughing too hard.

#16 Comment By Sam M On September 1, 2018 @ 7:28 pm

Dude. “Plastics.” Memes from The Graduate write themselves.

Hide it in the hiding place where no one ever goes
Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes
It’s a little secret just the Robinson’s affair
Most of all you’ve got to hide it from the kids

#17 Comment By Oski The Bear On September 1, 2018 @ 7:45 pm

To be fair, September 1 is kind of “Earth Day” for the Vatican. The Vatican piggy-backed on the Greek Orthodox’s Day of Protection of the Environment which happens every year on September 1. Indeed, Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has put out an environmentally-themed statement for today.
[10]

Therefore, in context, the subject of the pope’s speech makes sense. That does not excuse the pope’s silence on the abuse scandal, but it does explain why he spoke on the subject.

#18 Comment By Anthony Ferrara On September 1, 2018 @ 8:33 pm

Even if he doesn’t resign, his papacy is effectively dead and the seat of Peter is functionally vacant until he dies and a new pope is elected. He has lost the little moral authority he had left. The overwhelming majority of Catholics aren’t going to listen to nonsense about plastic straws while he is silent about his cover up of sexual abuse.

#19 Comment By sketches by boze On September 1, 2018 @ 8:33 pm

I agree that the Holy Father should be addressing the sex abuse crisis but pollution in the ocean is also a serious issue that deserves our attention. The environment is important; we don’t have a human race, or a future, without it.

#20 Comment By John On September 1, 2018 @ 8:48 pm

This is what you do when the truth won’t help.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 1, 2018 @ 8:49 pm

Plastics in the oceans IS an emergency. But I hardly think we need to abandon pursuit of justice for victims of sexual abuse in order to divert scarce resources to removing the plastic from the oceans. Nine billion people can, among them, do quite a number of things all at the same time.

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 1, 2018 @ 8:50 pm

Also the idea that there is a Trash Island out in the middle of the Pacific is patently false.

Oh? Could you elucidate on that?

#23 Comment By Bob On September 1, 2018 @ 8:56 pm

The article Rod wrote says it all.

As for the Russian Patriarch not getting his way, (even though backed by Francis), and being shown who still really is boss, go team go!

and yes, the religious and political ramification of a new Church in the area will take explaining in detail….but, still..
GO TEAM! GO!!

#24 Comment By DW On September 1, 2018 @ 9:11 pm

From the Hugh Hewitt column you linked to:
“In that ‘old church,’ the moms would have counseled with the dads and the dads would have delivered to the principals, the pastors and the bishops the message about their town’s kids: Off limits.”

Bull***t. It happened on their watch.

#25 Comment By David J. White On September 1, 2018 @ 9:19 pm

Somewhere in this Vatican vaudeville act is a Saturday Night Live skit. Any suggestions on who plays PF from the all-star cast? Chris Farley, perhaps?

Based on both his Church Lady and his George Bush, I nominate Dana Carvey.

#26 Comment By RevJonathan On September 1, 2018 @ 9:22 pm

I had a thought similar to JamesP’s. If Pope Francis really believes anything he says about the numerous environmental and societal emergencies we face (e.g., plastics in the ocean), then how *dare* he forfeit any moral authority he might have wielded on such topics by frittering it away through the silence of the complicit re: the sex scandal cover-ups?

Where he could have perhaps made some real impact, he *chooses* to discredit himself by dragging out this other glaring situation through cowardice. How dare he betray a creation that needs his voice to carry weight on its behalf?

#27 Comment By RR On September 1, 2018 @ 9:23 pm

Plastic in the oceans, global warming and the refugee crisis are real problems. But the Catholic Church does not have the power to deal with those problems. At best, it can try to influence governments and individuals to do something about those problems. It has the power of influence, not of force. On the other hand, the pope very much DOES have the power to do something about wicked bishops who are sexual predators or who protected sexual predators. Indeed, the pope could remove them all from power in an instance. The fact that he doesn’t and refuses to answer questions about these whole mess, while carrying on about things he has little real power to change, is quite telling.

#28 Comment By Meg Quinn On September 1, 2018 @ 9:56 pm

If Francis was plastic, he might finally be transparent.

#29 Comment By catbird On September 1, 2018 @ 9:59 pm

Some interesting facts about plastic pollution: [11]

#30 Comment By Lllurker On September 1, 2018 @ 10:01 pm

“Also the idea that there is a Trash Island out in the middle of the Pacific is patently false.”

Eh? You are just trolling right? Certainly at this stage no one who has internet access could be unaware of this problem?

#31 Comment By Jeffersonian On September 1, 2018 @ 10:54 pm

Re: Trash Island

Oh? Could you elucidate on that?

Yes. I got my info from Slate magazine on a tip from the Blaze website. Snopes has a fairly good article as well.

Basically, most of the trash in the ocean is plastic, yes, but it small little pieces called microplastics, not big things like plastic bottles or packaging. The microplastic is suspended under the surface kind of like noodles and shredded chicken in a simmering pot of soup. It doesn’t float on the surface and even if it did you probably couldn’t see it.

The reason this is such a concern is that these microplastics can be consumed by sea life, fish, whales, coral, whatever, and can be passed on up the food chain.

Bigger chunks of debris do exist, though, much of which comes from disasters like the Japanese and Indonesian tsunamis and from commercial fishing equipment and tackle that is lost overboard. It is generally not things like a bendy straw from your local burger barn in the middle of Iowa or wherever. That hopefully ends up in a landfill, though that has it’s own discussion.

#32 Comment By kevin on the left On September 2, 2018 @ 12:25 am

“To be fair, September 1 is kind of “Earth Day” for the Vatican. The Vatican piggy-backed on the Greek Orthodox’s Day of Protection of the Environment which happens every year on September 1. Indeed, Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has put out an environmentally-themed statement for today.
[10]

No worries! After people like Hugh Hewitt and the people at Napa Institute are done with the Church and purge the Cultural Marxists, September 1 will be the Coall-Rolling -to-Own – the – Libs day, as Jesus intended.

#33 Comment By William Murphy On September 2, 2018 @ 1:40 am

This distraction exercise is hardly unique to Francis. My parish priest in England has been droning on about plastic for a few months. The story which was on the front page of the Times on Good Friday 2018 – that the Pope had abolished Hell? Not a mention. No need to spell out that you are redundant, Father.

#34 Comment By Ted On September 2, 2018 @ 7:53 am

Effect Pope can have on cleaning up the environment: he can instruct priests and religious to stop using plastic straws and employ the proper recycling receptacles.

Effect Pope can have on corruption: he can root it out, starting today if he cared to. BUT HE DOESN’T.

#35 Comment By Ted On September 2, 2018 @ 8:10 am

Just read Hewitt. Very strong piece. This:

“I believed, earnestly, that the American Church at least had cleaned house in the beginning of the new century. I thought, as did millions of other Catholics, that all of the bishops had actually come forward to the National Review Board that made its report almost 15 years ago. As a Catholic layman, I didn’t need to ask too many questions about follow-up because, well, a new generation had arisen in the hierarchy and they were hell on wheels on the criminals. Super-lawyer Bob Bennett, a board member, wouldn’t let them get away.”

That’s what Cupich revealed with that interview. How they regard us. With contempt.

#36 Comment By Elijah On September 2, 2018 @ 8:11 am

“Plastic in the ocean is indeed an emergency that needs to be solved quickly. If the pope headed a church with public moral authority …”

This is the biggest issue of all, I think. Even if we grant that Pope Francis isn’t trying to shift focus away from the Church’s problems (I’m not, but speaking hypothetically), all but the True Believers see this is a cynical stunt.

#37 Comment By Jeffersonian On September 2, 2018 @ 9:07 am

Eh? You are just trolling right? Certainly at this stage no one who has internet access could be unaware of this problem?

Nope, not trolling. There are plenty of people who are blissfully unaware of what happens to their trash. Of the roughly 140 students I have on my rosters this year, maybe 10 to 15 have any clue about trash in the ocean. I asked and got bupkis.

Of those who are aware,most have no concept of the mechanics of the problem beyond plastic in the ocean is bad. The main misconception is that a millions of square miles island of trash is floating somewhere beyond the Galapagos with penguins or something on top. That is not true. Think more like trash soup.

#38 Comment By Bob On September 2, 2018 @ 10:37 am

“DW says:

September 1, 2018 at 9:11 pm

From the Hugh Hewitt column you linked to:
“In that ‘old church,’ the moms would have counseled with the dads and the dads would have delivered to the principals, the pastors and the bishops the message about their town’s kids: Off limits.”

Bull***t. It happened on their watch.”

INCORRECT: a number cruncher looked at it and made charts for you…
[12]

indicative of a homesexual group at seminaries preaching a glorious sexual revolution where vows are outdated, and nothing is forbidden, including kids, and then those guys matriculated into the system…the current decline simply shows they found that fairyland dream of fresh pickin’s to be incorrect or they went to jail.

#39 Comment By Just a Baptist On September 2, 2018 @ 11:00 am

In an editorial in the Buffalo News:

Another priest, the Rev. Arthur Smith, was returned to ministry by Malone after being removed by a previous bishop for inappropriate behavior around a child. A former Catholic school principal alleged that Smith was trying to groom a child for abuse. Yet a church document shows that Malone provided a letter of recommendation for Smith to become a cruise ship chaplain, writing he was “unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.”

I expect to learn from the authorities that the very minor sin of lying about child abuse by Bishop Malone of Buffalo is entirely justifiable, since the real purpose of Arthur Smith in becoming a chaplain on a cruise ship was to look for plastic islands.

#40 Comment By charles cosimano On September 2, 2018 @ 12:11 pm

A plastic island is not a bad thing. It will give the inhabitants of Micronesia someplace to swim to after their islands sink due to global warming.

After all, we can’t have them dog-paddling around the shipping lanes. They will get caught in the ship propellers.

#41 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 2, 2018 @ 3:10 pm

Basically, most of the trash in the ocean is plastic, yes, but it small little pieces called microplastics, not big things like plastic bottles or packaging.

So its a serious problem, just arranged a little differently than some people have been saying.

It would appear, however, that there is good evidence for SOME plastic trash “islands” as well, although not miles and miles of plastic at any one location:

[13]

#42 Comment By Cavin On September 2, 2018 @ 4:46 pm

Is there truly reeling among Catholic laity generally, or just among conservatives who have long sought to bring Catholic social doctrine in line with the battle lines of the American Culture War? From where I sit, as a neutral observer, this looks like a lot of manufactured outrage by Catholic conservatives generated for the express purpose of discrediting a Pope who has frequently called them to account morally for their efforts to remake Catholic doctrine along lines more palatable to white evangelicals.

I agree that it’s unclear what progressive Catholics want besides destroying the Church institutionally. But I don’t see the conservative impulse as being too different. Consider that the alleged whistle-blower in all of this is a guy who suggested a meeting with the Pope with the hypocritical Kim Davis, and straight-out lied about her “moral stand” to convince Vatican officials to approve the meeting. And now we’re supposed to believe that people are “reeling” based on the testimony of a tired political hack who now makes his money by being a talk-radio shock-jock.Never mind that the only reason why conservatives want Francis to speak is so that they can complain about what he said and use it as ammunition against him. They have no interest in the substance of what he would say beyond that. In such an instance, he is right not to speak.

The Church has sorted out bigger scandals over the centuries, and it will sort this one out too.

Further, if this whole kerfuffle didn’t involve sex, I doubt that it would get much attention at all. But panicking over sex, especially where the conduct involves upending traditional hierarchies concerning race, sex, and gender, is a hobby horse for social conservatives. But historic Church doctrine doesn’t exhibit near the obsession over sexual misdeeds that American conservatives do. It strikes me that a lot of conservative Catholics come to the Church more out of a desire to have their this-worldly political impulses sustained, than out of a desire to abandon earthly ambition for the sake of taking up their crosses and following Jesus.

I think it would be unwise for the Pope to speak here.

[NFR: Oh, come on, you’re not a neutral observer. You’re gay liberal who wants to see the Catholic Church become queer-positive. — RD]

#43 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 2, 2018 @ 9:27 pm

Is there truly reeling among Catholic laity generally, or just among conservatives who have long sought to bring Catholic social doctrine in line with the battle lines of the American Culture War?

At this point, it seems EVERYONE is reeling… conservatives, Trads, liberals, the gay lobby… everyone is losing friends, suffering betrayal, and generally looking for new anchors for their faith.

By the way, is that plastic bobble doll a real thing? If it is, what steps are being taken to make sure a bunch of them don’t end up in the ocean when the gift recipient gets tired of the novelty?

#44 Comment By KilkennyKid On September 3, 2018 @ 5:24 pm

Why in the world is this man our pope. I can’t take anymore of his ducking /covering and political crap. You’re the top guy of the Catholic Church not the Sierra Club.

#45 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 3, 2018 @ 6:58 pm

This man is Pope because two thirds of the college of cardinals voted to make him so. They don’t answer to anyone for that or anything else.