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Scandal Dogs, Barking And Not

Pope Francis and curial cardinals continue to ignore urgent scandal questions

This is really something. Faggioli teaches at Villanova, and is one of the more active progressive Catholics on social media:


The actress Patricia Heaton, who is Catholic, lets him have it:

You tell him, lady!

As this thing drags on, the people defending Francis’s handling of the matter grow more shrill and less credible. That does not mean that Vigano is telling the truth, but it does mean that the refusal of Francis and the cardinals accused of cover-up by Vigano to answer the McCarrick-related allegations is starting to stink.

Slate has up an interview with John L. Allen, the respected Vatican correspondent, on the matter. Note these parts:

What have you made of the way that Francis and people close to him have responded to this? I saw a video clip of an ally of Francis essentially saying we have more important things to focus on, like immigration and global warming. And the pope’s response was a nonresponse. I understand being annoyed if the accusations are untrue, but given the way that the entire church has responded to this crisis, and the seriousness of the accusations, it also feels pretty insufficient.

Yeah, certainly my read talking to people in and around the Vatican, because I’m in Rome right now, is that there are a lot of people who would agree with that assessment. It’s hard to ignore the fact that you have now several American bishops, I think the last count is maybe seven, who have come forward to say that they find Viganò to be a credible guy and that this charge needs to be thoroughly investigated. You know and I know that media organizations all over the world are gearing up to try to get to the bottom of this. It is hard to see how this just disappears on its own until there’s a more kind of thorough answer from the Vatican about what the pope knew and when he knew it.

Yes, today Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has vouched for Vigano’s credibility, though he did not take a stand on the specific charges. He says they need to be investigated. More:

Ross Douthat, the conservative Catholic columnist at the New York Times, wrote, “If Francis was misled, somehow, into thinking that these allegations [against McCarrick] were not serious, he should be *furious* at the cardinals who were in a position to tell him not to let McCarrick globetrot and posture as his adviser. He should be demanding the kind of investigation *at the Vatican* that has been demanded in America. He should be asking for the resignations of active members of his cabinet who should have known about McCarrick. Is he doing any of that? Will anyone who knew about McCarrick in the Vatican own up or lose their jobs?” Douthat’s questions don’t seem unfair to me.

Yeah, in the quote you just read, the questions that Ross is asking are questions a lot of people have. I think people want to know: When was the Vatican made aware of the concerns about McCarrick? If it is true—and there are indications that it probably is [emphasis mine — RD] —that some sort of restrictions were imposed upon McCarrick under Pope Benedict, why wasn’t that made public and why did McCarrick appear to ignore them and how was he allowed to get away with that? Ultimately, who should have seen this train wreck coming and done something about it? I agree the question doesn’t just apply to Francis. It applies to anyone who was in leadership at the time.

Allen says that this whole McCarrick business is inextricable, as a practical matter, from the vast culture war within Catholicism. I think he’s right about that, but wherever one stands on these issues, the truth about what the Vatican — especially the pope — knew about McCarrick has to be established. Neither the pontiff nor any of these senior Vatican cardinals who have been accused by name by Vigano can be allowed to get away with silence in a matter as critical as this. If they all knew about McCarrick, and shielded him, and even (as Francis did) raise his profile and influence in this pontificate — this needs to come out, and let the chips fall where they may. 

As regular readers know, I’m a great admirer of Benedict XVI, but even though he was better on sex abuse than his predecessor, even he was much weaker than he ought to have been. Assuming it’s true that he imposed restrictions on McCarrick, what kind of punishment is that for a cardinal you believe to have sexually abused seminarians, or anyone else? Kick him out of the College of Cardinals, and defrock him. Make his grave sins known to the public, so that he would be deprived of the respect that he falsely had! And if McCarrick defied Benedict’s orders, as he obviously did, then make an example of him. McCarrick defied Benedict because he knew that the wrongly slurrred Panzerkardinal wouldn’t lift a finger against him.

Consider how Benedict treated Father Marcial Maciel, who was a true monster: a bigamist, a molester of his own children, and so on. Benedict ordered him to undertake a life of prayer and penance, and forced him out of active ministry. Maciel died two years later, in 2008. Why on earth didn’t Benedict defrock him? Maybe there’s just something I don’t understand about how this works — I’m serious; if I’m missing something, enlighten me — but why go easy on a prominent, powerful priest who is guilty of such horrible crimes?

Again: Benedict was a big improvement in this area over see-no-evil John Paul II. But he was not the reformer he should have been. I suppose you could say that he was opposed at every turn in the Curia, and if Vigano is telling the truth, you’d be right. Anyway, Benedict hasn’t been the pope for five years, so there’s no point in making too big of an issue out of what he did and didn’t do. Still, it’s important not to get so caught up in intra-Catholic culture wars that one forgets that when it comes to truth and accountability on bishops and sex abuse, there are no heroes in the Vatican, and never have been.

A Catholic priest who reads this blog writes:

Here’s the “dog that’s not barking.” In the face of the nearly a dozen US bishops speaking in favor of investigating Vigano’s charges, many of them explicitly calling Vigano a man of integrity: none of these bishops is saying they can’t believe what is said about those named by Vigano.

DiNardo, Olmstead, Cordileone, and others who worked in the Vatican and would have known the men accused or implicated by Vigano for decades do not come to their defense, but instead defend Vigano’s integrity, or at least say his claims should be investigated.


True. The lapdogs that are barking — like Signor Faggioli — continue their distracted yapping, but one has to hope that there is a caravan of at least some honest investigative journalists moving on towards compelling the Pope, and those accused cardinals, to give an account of themselves in light of the Vigano allegations. I happen to know that one of the loudest Francis defenders in all was privately telling people a couple of weeks before the Vigano letter that the McCarrick case could cause the Church to “implode”. His word, not mine. These guys are frightened, not because they believe Vigano is lying, but because they fear the meaning of Francis’s and the others’ silence.

The question facing the laity: do you want to know the truth about cardinals and sexual corruption, so that the mess can be cleaned up, or do you prefer to live with pleasing illusions? Don’t assume that the only people keeping silence about McCarrick are those on the Catholic left. There are institutionalists on the Catholic right who are also clamming up because they fear scandal that makes the Church look bad more than they fear the wrath of God. You know who you are.

UPDATE: Actually Archbishop Cordileone’s statement goes a bit further than indicated above. He writes (emphasis mine):

I came to know Archbishop Viganò well during the years he served as Apostolic Nuncio here in the United States. I can attest that he is a man who served his mission with selfless dedication, who fulfilled well the Petrine mission entrusted to him by the Holy Father to “strengthen his brothers in the faith,” and who would do so at great personal sacrifice and with absolutely no consideration given to furthering his “career” – all of which speaks to his integrity and sincere love of the Church. Moreover, while having no privileged information about the Archbishop McCarrick situation, from information I do have about a very few of the other statements Archbishop Viganò makes, I can confirm that they are true. His statements, therefore, must be taken seriously. To dismiss them lightly would continue a culture of denial and obfuscation. Of course, to validate his statements in detail a formal investigation will have to be conducted, one that is thorough and objective. I am therefore grateful to Cardinal DiNardo for recognizing the merit of finding answers that are “conclusive and based on evidence,” and I join my voice to that of other bishops in calling for such an investigation and for taking any corrective action that may be necessary in light of its findings.

That’s big.



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