Leon J. Podles :: DIALOGUE

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Francis the Fixer

March 7th, 2014 · 23 Comments

This is from CM:

Pope Francis was visited by George Weigel last week, so it is no surpise that his statements yesterday on the abuse crisis mimick Weigel’s ideological views of the crisis: holiness is what was lacking; abuse is greater among the laity; we are getting blamed unjustly for a common problem; Benedict was at the forefront of the reform.
You, Leon, and so many other reformers have rebutted these false notions with hard facts, which continue to get pushed under the tide of high rhetoric.
Yes, there are slightly more pedophiles among laity than priests but pederasty (abuse of adolescent boys) by priests, which is the main problem, has been at a rate Sipe proved to be between 9% and up to 40% in some urban settings.

Sadly, Pope Benedict only acted under pressure, and after years of knowing the truth, and allowing, for example, Maciel to continue to abuse. I believe his brave stepping aside was in recognition of his failure and the moral impossibility of his leading any reform. It is example all must follow who betrayed children. It will be Francis’ fate if he does not act decisively.

Yes, holiness was lacking. But the kind of “holiness” which insists on couping men up together for years in seminary, without possibility of marriage, leads to situational homophilia with lifelong tendencies to be attracted to boys, if ex-Legionnaires’ accounts can be believed.

The Church has not been singled out. With over 4,000 creditable accused pederast priests in the US alone, the enormity of the diabolical infestation is almost unimaginable. In addition, known pederast cardinals and bishops remain in power, and are well known by the pope. His failure to remove them is aiding and abetting their continued abuse of children. If he thinks telling them to stop is sufficient, he should consult his chief demonologists.

The Pope struggles to appoint his abuse commission because, I believe, he realizes the clerical experts who now claim to be architects of reform were themselves minions in the original cover-up.

The crisis is far from over. Sick priests are still permitted to remain priests under insufficent supervision. Child protection measures being foisted on bishops conferences worldwide are a smoke screen to avoid addressing this horror.

True experts need to be consulted if the pope has any chance of coming out of the brainwashing that has deeply affected Church leadership on the topic. Leaders such as you, Leon, and Richard Sipe, and Jason Barry. The Pope should hold a private summit with reformer experts to educate himself first, including the real anatomy of the ring of abusers and abettors that exists under his nose, and continue to advise him.

Most importantly, he must establish a truth and justice commission, trying in court any bishop who moved priests around and through whose actions children continued and continue to be molested.

The Pope bemoans the lack of generative bishops. No honest priest will step forward to be bishop to support the continued practices they know will burden them with living a lie. There is no generativity possible without placing the protection of children before everything else. If that means most of the bishops in the Church must step down, then so be it. God will raise up 7000 more. The Church was reduced to a handful of clerics during times of heresy. This is the heresies of gnosticism, Jansenism and angelism writ large. Cleansing the house of the Lord must be complete now, or the enemies of the Church will do it later with violence. I believe the persecution of Christians has so increased because of contempt issuing from a crisis clearly not addressed.

The Pope must learn what he does not know. If not, his papacy will be for naught.

Weigel has not uttered the three words that, I am told, women love to hear: I was wrong.

Benedict did more than any pope in centuries to deal with abuse, but it was not enough.

Francis is a fixer. Whenever a parish or diocese experience a disaster, a fixer is sent in, as O’Malley was to Boston. Francis is the papal fixer. He is changing the subject from sexual abuse by his charm, hominess, and willingness to let people indulge their minor vices without a censoring voice from the clergy.

A fixer differs from a reformer in that a fixer does not address the roots; he is not radical. He merely papers over the problem, merely puts a poultice on the cancer.

Karadima is a terribly abusive priest in Chile. The archbishop of Santiago told him to stop saying mass in Public. Karadima ignored the order, and photos of him saying mass were tweeted to tens of thousands of people.

A prominent Chilean priest who was ordered by the Vatican to never again celebrate a public Mass as punishment for sexually abusing altar boys has been photographed apparently defying the order.

Chile’s top church leaders confirmed the Rev. Fernando Karadima’s act of insubordination Friday and sent the case to the Vatican for investigation. The photos were taken Dec. 4, but they were only released this week by Juan Carlos Cruz, a journalist and one of Karadima’s victims.

“It’s a very painful situation that shows that this priest continues to do as he pleases,” Cruz told The Associated Press. “It’s a slap in the face for the victims of his abuse. He should be in jail but instead he’s still being protected by the church.”

The Roman Catholic Church retains a firm grip on Chilean society, although in recent years its influence has waned after scandals in which priests have been accused of molesting children. Victims say Karadima began abusing them at his residence at the Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Santiago about 20 years ago, when they were between 14 and 17 years old.

The Vatican sanctioned Karadima by ordering him to a life of “penitence and prayer” in 2011. He was also barred from celebrating Mass in public, from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction and from having contact with his ex-parishioners. A Chilean judge later dismissed a criminal case because the statute of limitations had expired, but she determined the abuse allegations were truthful.

The timing of the photos’ release appeared aimed at embarrassing both the current and former archbishops of Santiago, who were in Rome for Saturday’s ceremony to name current Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello a cardinal.

The victims in Chile say the retired archbishop, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, failed to act on accusations that they were abused by Karadima, who was long one of the country’s most popular priests. They say the cardinal declined to even meet them.

Pope Francis’s response: he made Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello a cardinal. This sends a clear message. The Vatican does not care how a bishop handles sexual abuse cases.

Francis has not appointed the sexual abuse commission he promised. I will be flabbergasted if he appoints anyone like Tom Doyle or Richard Sipe, someone who knows the problem from the inside. The Voice of the Faithful here in Naples asked me to go to Boston to speak to O’Malley about Southwest Florida’s being a dumping ground for abusive priests (El Paso has a similar problem). I had to inform them that the mere mention of my name had reduced a cardinal to screaming fits (I guess I should be flattered). I was blackballed by my pastor from the Knights of Malta because I criticized bishops.

The caliber of members of review boards has declined, because bishops want only those who will say that everything is OK, that a bishop never makes a mistake.

The Roman Catholic Church claims that outside the church there is no salvation and that apostasy leads to eternal damnation. It encourages its members to confide their deepest secrets and inmost sins to a priest. It therefore has a far stronger obligation than any other organization or church to ensure that its clergy are of sterling character. After Augustine approved of the civil measures to force Donatists to become Catholics, he also insisted that Catholic clergy give the highest example of probity and that corrupt priests be disciplined and removed from the clergy.

But little or nothing will be done unless there is a crisis as serious as the Reformation, and even then reform was only partly implemented. Bishops have allowed priests with criminal convictions for abuse to serve in ministry, and are still trying to hide abusers. The Vatican deeply does not care. Only external pressure will force the hierarchy to act, and then they will act only grudgingly and minimally. Francis will canonize John Paul II, who refused to act on abuse and who called the psychopathic incestuous child molester Maciel “an efficacious guide to youth.” Bishops will notice that tolerating child molestation does not prevent canonization, so it can’t be all that serious a matter.

Tags: Pope Francis · clergy sex abuse scandal

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 CM // Mar 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Yes, I had two powerful clerics scream at me too, as if I were performing a sacrilege against priestly holiness. Hysterical, high-pitched screams. One told me to shut-up.

    Unfortunately, the Church did not follow Augustine when he argued, against the Donatists, that priests are not the source of holiness. Since and because of Post-Reformation ideology, priests have become Dionysian mediators again.

    In multiple ways, they have become the eighth sacrament of the Church and the fourth member of the Blessed Trinity. This is not mere analogy at work. Numerous ecclesial documents support a complete identification of the priest with Christ, at one with Him in the Eucharist.

    A recent retreat held by a group I know was given by a priest promoted on EWTN. He said, “I cannot give my clothes away because they are holy: even my breath is holy.” At communion he forced one buxom 60 year-old woman without sleeves to receive a blanket thrown across her chest by an eager altar boy standing at the ready. How dare she show female flesh? Tempt the priest? Offend God?

    Francis is leaping into the 70s with his rhetoric, which is completely understandable because that is the last time this pastoral theology was seemingly absent…But it wasn’t, the mediator complex reigned supreme - just leaning left rather than right.

    The key to this whole mess is simple, and one Protestants cannot believe we don’t get: if a leader commits a grave wrong, he is not fit for leadership. He must step down. Simple. Bishops who endangered children cannot be allowed to remain in collars much less office. That the hierarchy does not see this is another symptom of clerical identity failure, the result of the sin of pseudo-speciation, over-identification with one’s own over others. But, in this case, and more importantly, it is over-identification with Christ.
    I am another Christ, therefore, I may have covered up crimes and enabled others, but I am forgiven and have the power and duty and calling to remain in my position. It is God’s will.
    And so is my luxury condo, paid by the laity, that my male professor friends need to frequent when I get them speaking engagements in my diocese.

    Francis, as Benedict, insists on humility and poverty in this high calling. This rhetoric only fuels clerics’ beliefs that God ordains all for their humble use, including giving them their condos and the gift of fraternal love, so to speak. You cannot put new wine into old wineskins.

    Perfidy, and now presumption: sins against the faith and against the Holy Spirit. The Lord leaves them to their blindness.

  • 2 Tony de New York // Mar 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    We need to see bishops, cardinals and priest in JAIL!!

    They have to pay for their crimes, that’s the only way they can learn.

  • 3 CM // Mar 8, 2014 at 7:40 am

    George Weigel also bragged publicly, now 10 years ago, that he was in conversations with half the bishops in the US. Their plan to address the problem of bishops who aided abusers was to quietly wait for their retirement. So, basically, nothing. Weigel claims on his webpage he is a theologian, (with only an MA in theology). But, all authority is accorded him, nonetheless.

    That means that for the last ten years, all the rhetoric has been a deliberate stall tactic. And Opus supernumerary Weigel has been a major part of the game, counselor to popes.

    Journalists like John Allen, friend and co-author with clerical psychologist Steven Rossetti, have played the game as well.

    Allen–by playing the career-protecting middle ground as editorialist, never doing the much-needed investigative work and often ever so sweetly, (like a Baroque courtier) mischaracterizing the survivor community’s case, making facts into opinions, under the rubric of “balanced” “reporting”. The Boston Irish are not going to put up with that kind of “reporting” at his new pulpit.

    Rossetti–pyschologist and head of St. Luke’s Institute, as a chief architect of the cover-up, himself a victim of a sick clerical psychology that parses degrees of abusers into acceptable risk categories, returns sick men to ministry or to continued life in a collar under inadequate supervision (under the claim that the bishops did it), and sees no need to report abusers to authorities. Rossetti, who now is the self-proclaimed leader of the reform (”mistakes were made”)(as if this scenario were in the past), and uses his cushy position at, and the news page of, the theological college at the Catholic University to promote himself at every turn. (He is also writing as an expert on theology as if he had a doctoral degree in theology).

    He has found a warm home there and is now spreading his Gospel internationally as he seeks an assistant professor to take over his duties while he travels the world spreading his exalted theology and seriously flawed psychology worldwide to bishops’ conferences.

    The CUA TRS scholars’ news page is a must read, and illustrates clearly why Catholic academia has not addressed the crisis either, or rather, has been part and parcel of the crisis.(Leon, Caldwell’s founding legacy continues in some ways. For example, and this is just one case–priest and longtime world-famous professor of ecclesiastical history, Jacques Gres-Gayer (may he rest in peace) retired in 2012, and quickly married his male partner of 38 years, according to his internet obituary, having lived in a half- million-dollar home with him on Capitol Hill, earning $75,000+ a year as a Catholic scholar, paid for by the faithful’s dimes. How does that jive with Ex Corde?

    Allen might conduct some investigative journalism, and research the historical connections of the past and current theological faculty with St. Luke’s Institute, and, with each other.

    But, then, who are we to judge?

    I pray the pope can see through these petty pundits who have held such deadly sway in what amounts to an embarrassing Catholic ghetto.

    I hear he has already appointed the members of his “commission.” If they include the psychologists, bishops, and canon lawyers, members of the pious, immaculately-dressed club that created the crisis, no, that is the crisis, the true experts will know and continue to speak out.

  • 4 Nancy Reyes // Mar 8, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Francis is trying to clean out the Vatican bureaucracy, which was the source of the “co enablers”, so give him credit in being Sisyphus.

    A “new reformation” will probably not be the cure: because those busy claiming they want to reform things tend to push all sexual activity as okay, not to mention euthanasia and abortion as human rights.

    But it wasn’t just the Vatican, alas.

    The UK Mail right now is busy “outing” UK politicians who cooperated with pedophiles to change the “age of consent”.

    And as a doc, I’m waiting for my profession (and especially the psychiatric profession) to “out” Johns Hopkins and other “experts” that told the bishops that these men were cured (and pushed pedophilia as normal, and even desirable for children to medical students in the late 1960’s when I was in medical school).

  • 5 Joseph D'Hippolito // Mar 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    The Catholic hierarchy and its sycophantic supporters have long forgotten one important principle: Judgement begins in the House of God. Isaiah said that and Peter quoted him in the latter’s first epistle. If no salvation truly exists outside of the Catholic Church, then a holy, righteous God will hold it accountable for the ways it has taken God’s name in vain by abusing the authority it claims He gave it.

    I would strongly suggest that Catholics read the Gospel of Matthew and pay particular attention to Christ’s dealings with the religious leaders of His day. Those leaders behaved no less wantonly and with no more regard for their spiritual responsibilities than the Catholic hierarchy does.

  • 6 Oso Pious // Mar 12, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Give Pope Francis a chance! Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald s.P., founder of the Servants of the Paraclete also thought the same thing! If the structure is rotten, you FIX it! The sick priests are just a symptom of a sick theology that thinks that clergy are elite, special and untouchable!

  • 7 John Farrell // Mar 13, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Leon, is there a link to CM’s commentary? Or was it supplied to you via email? This needs to be more widely discussed, I think.

  • 8 admin // Mar 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    CM’s comment was taken from the previous post.

  • 9 Barbara Dorris // Mar 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    The predators are one level of the problem but those that enable and protect the predators raise the problem to whole new level. Until Pope Francis removes men like Bishop Finn who has a conviction for child endangerment the message is clear–predators will be protected and those that enable them will be rewarded.
    Barbara Dorris

  • 10 Oso Pious // Mar 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Perhaps we need to put the predator priests on an island like Father Gerald Fitzgerald s.P. tried to do!!

  • 11 Father Michael K // Mar 15, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Cm, do you have a blog or website? If not, you really should. You have important observations and commentary that oughtto be widely available.

  • 12 Cm // Mar 16, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks, Father Michael. Sure, I could blog, if I could have the security of a cushy job at a major news outlet, swank think tank, or clerical diploma-factory like the current ghetto bosses who are advising the pope.

  • 13 Vickie // Mar 17, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    It that is true about the Bishops of Santiago, it looks a lot of what is happening is just PR. I mean getting rid of some of the trappings of the papacy could truly be a sign of humility. But I would rather have a Pope in red shoes that really went after clergy predators.

  • 14 Mary // Mar 21, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Excellent observations.
    Recently,I had the distinct
    displeasure ,albeit enlightenment, of watching Charlie Rose interview
    Cardinal Dolan on Pope Francis.
    Vickie, I agree wholeheartedly.
    Several Papacies ago Fr Juan Vaca LC enumerated 80 young
    Legion men and boys whom he personally knew were molested by Maciel as he was .When he became a Diocesan priest his Bishop again urged him to write a letter to the Vatican under his auspices. NOTHING was done until the general media and two reporters made the investigation a priority .Then and only then, did Benedict choose to retire the 87 yr old pervert to life of penance and prayer in one of his many homes ,this one in Jacksonville Florida.Still the defenders of the Papacy refuse to admit the inaction and culpability of at least three Popes!
    This Irish Documentary is free online to watch till the end of March.

  • 15 Truth Lover // Mar 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    One thing we usually ignore in all these discussions: Here in Latin America the young men abused simply don’t want to talk. I cannot do all the talking for them. For the past 10 years I’ve hunted down victims and urged them to go to the civil authorities and they most often (95%) refuse to denounce.

  • 16 CM // Mar 22, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    The names of the commission are in: Zollner, staunch ideologue and Vatican defender; O’Malley, who hides the names of abusers; a token victim and advocate; and academics who have no background in criminal investigation or psychology, including one from Poland where experts know an immense ongoing scandal of clerical abuse goes unaddressed. No credibility from the get-go. This is not an independent commission but more window dressing. Very sad indeed.

  • 17 John Farrell // Mar 23, 2014 at 6:02 am

    CM, let me second Fr. Michael’s suggestion. You don’t need a cushy job to blog. (I sure don’t!)

  • 18 Joseph D'Hippolito // Mar 24, 2014 at 1:02 am

    The idea that this or any Pope needs a commission to tackle the problem of clerical sex abuse would be a joke if it weren’t so real. I guess Francis hasn’t heard of St. Alphonsus Ligori, a gentle man who recommended that sexual predators in the clergy be castrated. Nor, apparently, has he heard of St. Peter Damian, who wrote the illustrated “Liber Gomorrahianus” a thousand years ago as a challenge to the Pope of his day.

    The Catholic Church doesn’t need a Pope Francis. It needs a Pope George — as in Patton, or as in the saint who killed the dragon. Sadly, the church will not elect such men to the papacy, nor with the Pope appoint such men to the College of Cardinals.

    The Catholic Church is over-ripe for judgement by a holy, righteous God who is not amused when people who claim to hold authority in His name use that authority in vain.

  • 19 Mary // Mar 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Recently, a young priest confided that he MUST have had a true vocation because he had made it through the initial interview process at our local seminary. He is heterosexual and he said that seminary candidates were sent to a psychologist by the rector to ensure they did not suffer from “homophobia”. The first question I had was ,” But I thought the Pope wanted seminaries to screen for “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies?”
    Given the preferred acceptance of these individuals into the seminaries ,this make sense to me now because as this priest explained,” RC homosexual priests are in the majority and the Bishops want to avoid being bothered by any objections coming from straight priests who may be assigned to live in a rectory with a homosexual .”I have no reason to doubt this priest as he studied in Rome for his second PhD and related the corruption in the Vatican and it’s educational institutions in Rome. Everything he relayed has now been confirmed in the press.

    Apparently, the Vatican follows the same line of reasoning as the seminary rectors.
    “Vatican hires world’s leading pro-homosexual corporations as advisors”

  • 20 Mary // Mar 24, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Further evidence that this must be seminary rector’s policy ( above post) as this Bishop seems to be upset with Fr Despard for publicly blowing a whistle.


  • 21 CM // Mar 24, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I know probably 2 or 3 dozens seminarians and maybe one or two could actually get a girlfriend if they tried.

    This linked article bemoans the porn epidemic that supposedly has affected candidates for seminary. They never think to ask why men who are addicted to porn are attracted to the priesthood. Of course, they simply restrict access to the net, treating them like caged animals.

    And Francis recently issued a long list of things bishops should be rather than careerists. His latest pick, Sartain, has just made a public statement that the “laity love priests’ holiness.”

    Gee, getting to dress up in a dress everyday, having crowds of people adore your holiness, making more money than most people, AND getting to hang out with your beloved brothers?…hmm.

  • 22 Mary Ann // Mar 24, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Too bad Francis made the PC move of appointing all women as the laypeople on the commission. The majority of victims are male.

  • 23 IllinoisCatholic // Mar 24, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    If I had to guess, Catholic clergy and religious have donated far more money to advance gay marriage than to oppose it. The media never look at that possibility, or, rather, probability.

    If you think the bureaucratic/institutional Church in the US is opposed to gay marriage, I have a bridge to sell you.

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