A reader of this blog who is a Catholic parish priest e-mails:
Have you seen this yet?
This is a link to the actual program for the Rome meeting beginning Thursday. It is an illuminating document, both in what is and what isn’t there.
Firstly, what isn’t there? Well, anything that would indicate that this meeting is actually intended to accomplish anything of substance.
This big meeting is supposed to deal with the biggest scandal in the church in the last 200 years. And what do we see among the speakers? Where is the Prefect, or even the Secretary (the 2nd in command) of the CDF, the body responsible for adjudicating cases of priest abuse? Where is the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, or a similarly highly placed, experienced and credible canonist? And where is there even a single presentation on the canonical aspects of the delicts associated with priestly abuse? Where is there a presentation on the failure of bishops and the Holy See itself to follow canon law in dealing with these delicts?
None and nowhere. The only speaker on the program that I would accord any credibility to on this matter is Abp. Scicluna. And as we saw yesterday in his answer at the press conference, he’s not exactly inspiring either.
Others, like Cupich and Marx, have repeatedly demonstrated themselves to be part of the problem. Cdl. Tagle has no particular reputation or track record in dealing with or even speaking on abuse. One of the speakers, Dr. Ghisoni, is a professor of canon law at the Gregorian, and undersecretary at the Dicastery of the Laity. But I see no evidence that she is in any way a “heavy hitter.” Furthermore, she is not speaking on the canonical aspects of the problem. She is speaking on the topic of “Communio: to work together.” I’m sure it will be a very touching lecture.
Speaking of the topics, there is something noticeable about what is there:
“Smell of the sheep.”
“Church as field hospital.”
As a friend of mine pointed out, if you took the title of the program, and the titles of each day, off the document, and asked people to guess what the subject of the conference was all about, they would not likely say “priestly sexual abuse.” No, they would likely guess, “This looks like a conference on the main themes of Pope Francis’s pontificate.” So, in reality Pope Francis, or his coterie of sycophants and toadies, have managed to make this all about him.
Of course, there is the glaring omission of anything addressing the abuse of young priests and seminarians. According to Cdl. Cupich, this is so that they can focus on those who are “voiceless.” Here the cardinal may be relying on the ignorance of the press and the laity in general. For as any priest or former seminarian can tell you, there is no one as voiceless as a Catholic seminarian. The lowliest lay person has far more rights and a “voice” than a seminarian. Seminarians are completely at the mercy of their formators bishops. If they do not like being mistreated, abused, or exploited, they frequently have only one option: to leave formation, and likely abandon the hope of becoming a priest. And, as certain recent events show, a recently-ordained priest is in only a slightly better position. In a dispute between himself and, for example, the pastor under whom he serves, the pastor will win, and the bishop will back up the pastor.
So, on the whole, I find the whole thing to be utterly unimpressive and utterly unserious. This whole conference is going to be window-dressing, and where it isn’t that, it will be a farce and fraud.
Thus speaks a parish priest. Go take a look for yourself at the schedule for this thing. The fix is in.
This meeting will be taking place amid the global release (2/21) of a new book by a gay French journalist who purports to reveal that the Vatican itself is Sodom-on-the-Tiber. A different reader, a conservative, writes after reading this excerpt of that book, titled In The Closet Of The Vatican:
As one who worked and lived among the priests who serve the Holy See, I can only say that, while not agreeing with all of his conclusions, everything that is asserted here about the pervasiveness of the rot in the Vatican/Curia culture is true. He does not exaggerate even slightly.