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A Leaven In The World… A Tale Of Two Silences

September 10, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Many Catholics are confused. A Pope who, up to now, hardly left a subject untouched in his ongoing conversation with the world, on topics ranging from advice on not ironing your son’s shirts if you want him to move out of the house, to the “emergency” of plastic trash in the ocean, has absolutely nothing to say. About charges of the most serious kind in regard to his conduct by a man with the ability to know, a man who had access to the Pope and worked directly with him.
God has a way of writing straight with crooked lines. Viganò ended up in Washington, with a front-row seat to the unfolding McCarrick affair, because his reforming agenda inside Vatican City was so effective that his enemies joined forces to get him out. At first they plotted to send him to a diplomatic post in Africa, but Benedict XVI intervened and stipulated that he go to Washington, an elite and favored assignment for a hand-picked man. It was there that he gained the knowledge that led to the testimony which Pope Francis hopes will go away if he just ignores it. And he may continue to do just that. I’ve seen the look of determination on Pope Francis’ face. If that’s any indication, there may indeed be rough seas ahead for any who oppose his agenda.
As we know, he has eliminated a number of men who insisted on following the rules in place for clerical sexual abusers or misbehavers. He also reinstated an abusing priest who had to be laicized subsequently after civil authorities convicted him.
The Holy Father is now, in the wake of the Viganò attack, urging all his accusers who he says are “seeking to sow scandal” to focus instead on “silence and prayer,” as reported in accounts of his daily homilies. He has also said, beginning with his first remarks on the plane returning from Dublin, that he would “not say one word” about Viganò’s accusation that he knew about Cardinal McCarrick’s crimes, and enabled a cover-up by allowing him to continue to operate freely as a cardinal in good standing. Viganò remembers seeing him in Rome after the election of Francis and recounts his triumphant remark, “I’ve been to see the Holy Father. I’m going to China.”
The compliant media have for the most part let the Pope off the hook. His obedience to the zeitgeist and the pet causes of the environment and other worldly distractions of unbelievers is paying off. John Waters is an Irish writer and commentator. In a First Things article entitled “Pope Francis and the Journalists,” he gives a piercing interpretation of what truly transpired on the plane as the Pope sought to ennoble his refusal to answer the damaging Viganò charges against him when a journalist asked him if he would do so.
“Read the statement in the knowledge of the relationship you and I share: We are men and women of the world and like-minded on what is important. We know where we stand on matters like homosexuality and homosexual priests. But be careful how you handle this Viganò business — a wrong word could undo all we have achieved. I have faith in you to figure out who this man is. Do your work well and there will be no need for me to risk my position. Once you have defused the situation, I will deal with Viganò for the record. We are all adults here. I know I can count on you. I need your help on this, but we have an understanding that has worked well so far. Trust me.”
I choose to believe Vigano. Does that make me and others like me anti-Francis? No. It means we are in favor of finding out the whole truth about why Benedict resigned, what was in the files he gave Francis and how Francis actually made use of the information.
Blogger Matt Walsh talks about the Viganò affair and the Pope’s response within the framework of the U.S. media during the Kavanaugh hearings, taking place at the same time.
“I just feel like I need to reiterate this. The Pope — that is, the most powerful religious figure in the world — was credibly and publicly accused of covering up sex abuses by a high-ranking Vatican official, who called for him to resign. This is unprecedented in 2,000 years.
“And yet somehow the media is treating this whole affair like a minor sideshow while they give us breathless coverage of a Supreme Court confirmation hearing that has no significance at all because confirmation is a foregone conclusion.”
Pope Benedict’s resignation and life of solitude and prayer is, prophetically, the opposite of silence. Weeks ago when all this abuse, cover-up, and “gay lobby news” hit the Internet, one of my first thoughts was that this was exactly the reason why Benedict resigned. Many knew the problems he described existed but said they thought he should have stayed and fought. Fought McCarrick with public canonical sanctions, fought the entrenched “gay lobby” with laicizations and suspensions. But, what if after prayer and consultation with God and others, he thought that the loudest noise, the greatest cry for help from God and the faithful, would be his resignation from the office of the papacy?
Today he stands like a mountain, symbolic of an obstruction that blocks one’s preferred way of understanding or assumptions and demands one take account of its inconvenient presence in the path. His life remains at the service of the Church but now in the most effective way he could imagine, as one who silently calls the Church to self-examination and repentance, still speaking out about the corruption he faced without saying a word except in prayer to God. No doubt he followed his conscience and informed Francis, ensuring the photo was made available that we can all see today, seated as he is with his newly elected Successor, a large box of documents between them surmounted by three large envelopes.
McCarrick may be the linchpin to the whole moral quagmire now besetting the Church, beginning with Benedict’s resignation. After corrupting generations of priests and bishops, then seeking higher office for them through his undoubted influence with Francis, who has claimed he admires McCarrick, what else could be done? He ignored the request from Pope Benedict that he curtail his public activity in an atmosphere perhaps already so compromised that Benedict decided against going public. Was he the reason that Benedict finally resigned? Here you have a cardinal who succeeded in composing so much of the hierarchy of the Church that he could roam about freely. At that point a Pope must feel nearly powerless. But not if he’s Benedict who acts, in a manner unexpected of a Pope for hundreds of years, by resigning. (See the quotation from Peter Wolfgang in The Stream in this week’s News Notes column.)
Let us continue to praise and thank our providential God, to remain close to Him through the sacraments and our practice of faith with the priests and people in parish life and to work for the purification of the Body of Christ.

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