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The Bishops Let Bygones Be Bygones

March 9, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By CHRISTOPHER MANION

“It would be a good Lenten practice to try to stop gossiping about others, criticizing them, and instead look at our own faults, and then remain mute,” Pope Francis said last week.
Clearly there are issues that the Holy Father doesn’t want to talk about. “I will not say a word about that,” he famously responded when confronted with Archbishop Viganò’s exposé of the McCarrick Homosexual Network last August. The Pope doesn’t like criticism or his critics, and Viganò had alleged that the Pope knew about McCarrick.
So when our bishops planned to discuss the allegations at their annual meeting last November, they were suddenly and forcefully shut down by a cadre of Francis appointees in the Vatican and the U.S., most prominently Blase Cardinal Cupich.
Soon thereafter, Pope Francis scheduled a Rome “Summit” of bishops in February on the subject. Meanwhile, he told American bishops to go on silent retreat at Cardinal Cupich’s seminary, which they did, in January.
Well, the Rome meeting came, met, and bombed. Amidst mountains of pious palaver and promises of programs, protocols, and policies for the future, the past was shoved down the Memory Hole.
The “Summit,” we recall, had been summoned in order to address the role of homosexuality in the scandals in general, and McCarrick in particular.
But as the prelates were about to meet, the Vatican announced that McCarrick had been laicized. In the days that followed, among the thousands of words that flowed forth from the summit, two words were forbidden: “homosexuality” and “McCarrick.” Cardinal Cupich and his allies, who had forbidden the conversation last November, forbade it once more.
When America’s bishops returned from Rome, a sad silence prevailed. The Forbidden Words were still forbidden, and now, with Lent having begun, Pope Francis has admonished them (and us) to be mute regarding the vital questions surrounding the scandals and the corruption that cripples our hierarchy.
By now everyone knows: Pope Francis and his senior Vatican officials — most of whom have serious allegations against them regarding cover-ups and abuse — are going to do nothing about the scandals. In retrospect, they never intended to, and they appear to be convinced that there’s nothing the outraged laity can do about it.

What Lies Ahead?

On the home front, U.S. bishops are reluctant to mention outright the role of a “gay cabal” in the scandals, but a brave few have publicly demanded full transparency regarding McCarrick and his homosexual network.
USCCB President Daniel Cardinal DiNardo seems to support getting to the bottom of the problem, but Cardinal Cupich, who commands a sizable faction of U.S. bishops — the politicized “reform” faction — will have nothing of it. His “rabbit hole” edict was designed to be forceful, and permanent. After all, Cupich and many other prelates were installed and promoted by McCarrick himself.
The Cupich faction has dug in and isn’t going anywhere. And they have a very good chance of succeeding — after all, way back in 2002, dozens of bishops were shown to have covered up for abusers. Not one quit or was brought to trial. Billions of the faithful’s dollars were spent protecting them, but their gratitude doesn’t extend so far as to go away quietly.
The reality that confronts us lies in the nature of the USCCB itself. The body of bishops will take no action on the scandals that isn’t “collegial” — that is, without “consensus.” Recall that, when bishops met in 2002 to address the scandals, they were virtually unanimous in adopting their “charter” — which was carefully designed by then-Cardinal McCarrick to protect prelates as well as children.
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln objected, insisting that the conference not simply “move on,” but to commission a thorough investigation of the causes of the scandals. When he made a formal motion to that effect, the McCarrick Machine was so powerful that Bruskewitz’s motion did not even receive a second.
So the cover-ups have continued. Yes, there has been progress, but it came as the result of actions taken by the laity, the media, the victims, the lawyers, the civil courts, and criminal prosecutors. But when it comes to action by our beloved shepherds, rest assured — nothing will happen. An increasing number among the laity — some reluctantly, others begrudgingly — are coming to realize it.

Will McCarrick
Ever Be Heard?

Consider: Mr. Theodore McCarrick is 88 years old. According to the actuarial tables of the Social Security Administration, his life expectancy is some four years. And Cupich knows it.
Have USCCB officials ever tried to contact McCarrick? To interview him, to ask him to come clean, to beg him to apologize publicly for his role in the most atrocious scandal in the history of the Catholic Church in America?
Or, given the stern admonition of the Holy Father, how could our bishops dare to pursue more “gossip”?
The Cupich faction would erupt, to the delight of their LGBT-loving, Catholic-hating friends in the secular media. “Will the Church never escape from this ‘rabbit hole’ and move ahead,” they will scream, “inspired by its new and improved promises, protocols, procedures, programs, and best practices? How dare we disobey the Holy Father!”
No, they will kick that can down the road forever, if that’s what it takes. The Cupich faction will betray the laity, with the full support of the Vatican. It’s quite likely that Cupich’s Vatican supporters will do everything they can to stay in place, appointing more sycophants, even conniving with McCarrick housemate Kevin Cardinal Farrell to ensure that they will stay in power after Francis’ death. Next they will work to “solidify his legacy.” Should they succeed, they will hope to celebrate their triumph with their crowning achievement: The canonization of Pope Francis the First.
In the meantime, we will be told to remain mute. Forever.

On To More Important Matters

We might be mute, but U.S. chanceries are not: They are working around the clock on their “Bishop’s Lenten Appeals,” and they’re worried. The laity are outraged as never before, not only by the scandals, but by the continuing cover-ups.
Even many of those who have valiantly defended the bishops, giving them every benefit of the doubt for years, have now admitted that this can’t go on. Curiously, left-wing, LGBT, and dissident groups appear to be more loyal. After all, the Cupich-Tobin-McCarrick faction is noted for its sodomy-friendly policies and practices. All the momentum is moving in their direction. Why upset the applecart? (Forget about “rocking the boat”: the boat is sinking.)
Will the laity exercise the only influence it has and refuse to contribute to these Lenten appeals, which normally supply a major portion of chancery expenses? Development experts close to the bishops shrug — “maybe down five percent, max,” says one. “They’re gonna give, don’t worry,” says another.
But there’s another reason to be worried. The USCCB and its NGO’s receive hundreds of millions from the U.S. taxpayer every year, and that funding, which soared under Obama, has declined under Trump. And the bishops blame him — and us.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York, who mocked Trump’s “nativism” in 2015, was aghast when he won a year later. Two weeks after the election, Dolan sent a letter to every pastor in the archdiocese, haranguing them to ratchet up donations and demanding “sacrificial charity” from the faithful. His outburst reflected the abiding resentment for the president harbored by many prelates. It’s not just their left-wing politics that Trump threatens, it’s their money.
The bishops’ former chief lobbyist writes that our shepherds are afraid of each other and of the Vatican. Well, they’re afraid of Trump, and afraid of us as well.
A blessed Lent. Let’s pray for them.

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