Few if any Catholic journalists know as much about the abuse scandal as Philip Lawler. I don’t know a single one who is less likely to be bamboozled by Vatican B.S. as Phil. In this magisterial comment, Lawler demolishes the latest Roman propaganda, particularly Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s letter. Excerpts:

Here Cardinal Ouellet betrayed the symptoms of the very problem that created this scandal. He acknowledged the existence of rumors about McCarrick, but argued that no action was required since there was no proof of the American prelate’s guilt. Wouldn’t a more responsible approach have been to investigate the rumors, to ascertain whether there was a cause for concern? How often have Vatican officials dismissed charges of clerical misconduct, classifying them as “rumors,” rather than taking them seriously? Has this lesson still not sunk in?

A charge, a report, or a rumor is not sufficient reason to dismiss a priest or a bishop. But a serious charge is sufficient reason to think twice about promoting that cleric. And when the reports multiply, as reports about McCarrick multiplied, that is ample reason to question whether the object of those charges should be given greater influence. These questions were not raised, in McCarrick’s case, and that failure to respond to obvious signs of trouble is a sign of negligence—or something worse than negligence.

Yes: a sign that McCarrick was protected in the Vatican. Was he protected because he had bought key cardinals off? Was he protected because gay cardinals look out for gay cardinals? Both? Something else?

More Lawler:

Cardinal Ouellet concluded his open letter with several paragraphs of fulsome, cloying praise of Pope Francis, paired with a round denunciation of Vigano’s “open and scandalous rebellion.” It is remarkable that the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who in this very letter cautions against questioning the motivations of other bishops, does not hesitate to say that Archbishop Vigano is suffering from “bitterness and delusions” that have led him to inflict “a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ.”

Until very recently it was rare to see one bishop engage in such open criticism of another. No doubt Archbishop Vigano realized that he would be bringing such criticism on himself, when he dared to raise public questions about the leadership of Pope Francis. But isn’t it revealing that the bishop who has become the target for the most vituperative public criticism is not the bishop who preyed on his seminarians, nor the bishop who used diocesan funds to pay for the silence of an old lover, nor any of the bishops who lied to aggrieved parents, but the one bishop who, by telling inconvenient truths, put himself outside the protection of the clerical club?

Emphasis mine.

There you have it, readers. That’s what this is about. More condemnation has come from Rome for Vigano than for McCarrick. Interesting, isn’t it? Don’t be misled by this clumsy Vatican PR blitz. Phil Lawler has seen a lot in his decades as a Catholic journalist, and he sees right through this. Read the whole thing. 

When Pope Francis denounces “clericalism,” keep in mind that he’s engaging in misdirection. Clericalism is exactly what Francis and his advisers like Ouellet are defending, and practicing.