May 13, 2019

My Prediction: the McCarrick File Resides Permanently in File 13

Still pondering the whole McCarrick thing and whether there's a responsibility for the Vatican to be transparent in explaining who enabled it.

Journalist John Allen wrote recently:
“It’s been more than five months since the Vatican promised a review of its [McCarrick] files, and nothing has been reported. One obvious question is why American bishops, either publicly or privately or both, aren’t being more vigorous in demanding that the Vatican deliver, since they’re the ones most exposed to pastoral blowback over the failure to do so.
One answer is this: Bishops everywhere, very much including the U.S., hesitate to do anything the boss and his team might perceive as disloyal. By now, being seen as siding with ViganĂ² is regarded by Francis allies as virtually a sin against the Holy Spirit, and unless a bishop has been living under a rock, he’s gotten the memo."
The refusal of Francis to allow the U.S. bishops to police their own really opened my eyes (back in November) and I think the lack of pushback from the U.S. bishops during that conference wasn't their finest hour.

Perhaps all of this even leads to Pope John Paul II.  The question I keep coming back to is perhaps a prudential one and thus without an easy answer: at what point is there “too much” transparency? Are there some church clergy “too big to fail”?  Is it true the only way to prevent something from happening again is understanding how it happened, or does that ignore the fact that institutions can change merely from immense pressure without airing every secret? It’s perhaps an act of mercy to save reputations, but if so where do you draw the line -- the Church has obviously had problems in the past saving reputations of priests by moving them around after cases of abuse.

The average parishioner is stuck between folks with agendas: journalists, to uncover the story heedless of consequences, and bishops/popes who want to bury the story, heedless of consequences.

I’m certainly not hopeful that Cbus Bishop Brennan will show fortitude on this issue given his newness to the office and his appointment by Francis.

A bishop or pope with lots of credibility is Pope Benedict, who recently put out a letter that is much along the lines of "wheat and tares" and makes no mention of the issue of transparency that I saw. He might feel crimped, of course, given his pledge of silence (though the letter itself is a breaking of silence).

I go back to a couple of things: one, is that perfidy in popes is “permitted”, certainly by God, in the sense that we understand there have been bad, immoral popes and don’t have a lot of control over it and that it doesn't change the status of the Church.  Therefore I should not be surprised that bishops, who are essentially unsupervised popes of their diocese, are similarly bad. The high view of the role of bishops in the Church tends to explain the lack of supervision and accountability they experience. So it is what it is. Hence the famous biblical analogy is the wheat and tares even within the hierarchy.

Secondly, McCarrick’s rise was partially due to his skill at fundraising, and one could look at it in the way Mother Teresa accepted donations from bad folks. You accept help from whatever source, regardless of the iniquity of that source. Of course where it differs with McCarrick was a source of bad behavior directly affecting the church in other ways, seminaries, etc. But then I go back to the point above about their "right to be evil" without molestation, just as tares are allowed to grow without molestation until the harvest.

Also there’s a truism that Americans tend to look at admin policies instead of spiritual solutions, the latter being the only truly effective measure.

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