Since the revelation of Archbishop Viganò’s letter, accusing the Pope of covering up for Bishop McCarrick’s abuses, there have been many people urging Francis to resign the papacy (starting with Viganò himself.)

Many of those who make such pleas are highly critical of Francis’ pontificate, even (or especially) in unrelated matters, like his teachings and the pastoral direction he has given to the Church. These people would like to see him gone, no matter the pretext.

But there are also people who, in light of the American abuse crisis, have asked for accountability in the form of resignations (even symbolic resignations of clergymen not directly involved or whose guilt has not been established) and find themselves now forced, to be coherent, to demand the same thing from the Pope.

And there are also people who are legitimately scandalized by all these horrendous acts and who are now having a comprehensible (but in my view, disproportionate and unhealthy) yearning for an official and drastic purge in the Church, that would be (in their view) the only way to restore balance to it.

All of these people clamor for the Pope’s resignation, but I would like to address the question from another angle. We all know about the reasons given for why the Pope should resign. They seem quite obvious and straightforward. However, are there reasons for why the Pope should not resign?

I find there are many reasons for it and people, in their eagerness to make statements on this topic, have been neglecting most of them.


1) These allegations are yet to be proven and properly investigated. As many commenters have been pointing out in the last few days, there are many inconsistencies and partisanship in Fr. Viganò’s testimony (besides some antecedents on Arb. Viganò’s part of non-reliability as far as these kinds of allegations go), that should make us pause (see here and here.)

Yes, these charges should be investigated, especially by objective third parties. Pope Francis agrees with this, since he appealed to journalists to conduct a proper investigation. However, it is still premature to draw conclusions from it… and especially to ask such a drastic measures as a papal resignation.

It may very well be that Arb. Viganò (or the journalists or other competent authorities) may prove these allegations to be true. For now, Viganò has said he will not produce more evidence and the secular media has been unable to confirm his claim.

But even if it turns out that there are more solid evidence on which to rest these accusations, a papal resignation should only come about at the end of the investigation, not as soon as the next sensationalistic title hits.


2) The next reason is tightly linked to reason no. 1… We should not forego the presumption of innocence so lightly. Pope Francis, just like any other person, is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt (emphasis on the word “reasonable”, which excludes every kind of ideological bias or emotionally-driven response.)

Since the Church has been covering up these kinds of abuses for decades, trying to silence victims and casting doubt on their testimonies, there are many Catholics who feel compelled to prevent this from ever happening again by inverting the burden of proof and believing everything until proven false. There is a danger to this… the presumption of innocence has been instituted for a good reason: to allow any person to defend him/herself from unsubstantiated accusations and, therefore, avoid mob lynchings in the public square.

I remember a quote from the movie “A Man for All Seasons”, which used to be widely shared in Catholic circles until recently, where the actor playing St. Thomas More would reply to someone who, in his thirst for justice, would cut down every law in England to go after the Devil:

“Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

If we, as Catholics, can’t afford the Pope this presumption of innocence, then God helps us, for we are exposing ourselves and others to great evil, not quashing it.

Mind you, this is completely different from “not believing the victims.” We should believe them and support them. We should not, on the other hand, jump to conclusions. The proper response is to demand a proper investigation whenever there is a claim (as the Pope certainly did) and calmly wait for its result. We are not obliged (and in fact, it is not prudent to do so) to have an opinion on cases that we do not have enough information (or competency or authority) to form a judgment on.


3) If Pope Francis resigned while Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is still alive, this would create a situation where we would have three popes in the Vatican: an active one (still to be elected) and two emeriti.

As a Pope Emeritus, Francis would be bound to (mostly) silence, lest he should be accused (rightly or wrongly) of creating an alternative papacy with an alternative Magisterium. This is a very desirable outcome for many papal detractors who wish to silence him and his teachings… or so they think.

However, as we have seen with Benedict, keeping a low profile does not solve the problem. The problem lies in an ideological conception of Catholicism which has transplanted into the Church an extra-Catholic political Culture War and brought about great polarization among the faithful. This ideological conception, being the main driver for many who wish for the Pope’s resignation, is also responsible for the way people have used Pope Benedict XVI (against his explicit wishes) as a weapon against Francis, since his election.

Benedict has been assigned to a symbolic role. For a certain sector of the Church, encompassing conservatives, traditionalists and right-wing leaning individuals, Benedict embodies their ideals of how the Church should be. This is a simplistic take on his papacy, which is too complex, nuanced and sophisticated to fall neatly in ideological party lines… but unfortunately it is undeniable that these conservatives have used Benedict as a kind of token figure for their fight against what they perceive as the encroaching modernism of many clergymen, including Francis.

Since then, every single word (and silence) from Benedict has faced close scrutiny from this audience, so as to be misconstrued and twisted to further their ideological narrative. Sometimes, against solid evidence to the contrary, we have seen conspiracy theories swirling around, according to which Benedict would have been forced to resign, being a kind of “prisioner in the Vatican”, gagged and unable to set things right.

There is no doubt in my mind that, in case of a Francis resignation, we would witness a similar abuse of the Francis figure on the part of the progressive and liberal aisle of the Church, even if Francis would be against it. I pity the poor man who would succeed him in this situation, always having to fight against the two opposing caricatures from both camps, who would try to harness the authority of a pope for their non-Catholic views whenever they saw the Pope teach something they would disagree with.


4) The validity of such a resignation would be dubious at best. As Canon Law states:

“If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely”

— Canon 332.2

As Scott Eric Alt points out, many people who have cast doubt on Benedict’s resignation (because he would allegedly have been secretly pressured to resign by a lobby of sorts,) are also the ones who now are openly pressuring Francis to resign in public. Just showing their inconsistency of criteria and how their only objective is the removal of a Pope they don’t like.

If any resignation is done in doubtful circumstances, this could again nestle more confusion. The validity of Francis’ sucessor would be put in question and further worsen the situation I’ve described in my previous point.


5) It is also not wise to start using Papal resignations as weapons to attack Popes, especially if we have disagreements with them. This can backfire on anyone, especially those who are advancing this kind of scheme.

It is certainly true that the Church has, many times, behaved just as any human or political institution… but that doesn’t mean that it is just that. The Papacy is the guarantor of doctrine and orthodoxy: two things the world hates, for they stand against worldly views. It is not prudent to make the Papacy vulnerable to external pressures, like the pressure to resign.

That would mean that whenever a Pope says or does something uncomfortable to someone, a disgruntled Catholic will just have to dig up dirt (and, if we do not pay attention to point no. 2, that person will not even have to prove their assertions beyond a reasonable doubt) and pressure the Pope to resign. The very role of the Papacy is at stake! The Pope can (and should) be able to disestablish the status quo, to denounce the evils among those who sit comfortably under the umbrella of the Church, without fear of reprisals.

It is interesting that, by asking for Francis resignation in order to demand more accountability and transparency in the Church, we risk doing the opposite. The role of the Pope would certainly become more politicized then and the Popes would be encouraged not to agitate things too much. Instead of fighting against clericalism, we risk aggravating it.


6) Some people may misinterpret my previous three points as a criticism of Benedict’s resignation, as if it set a dangerous precedent. Not so. I do believe that Benedict’s decision to resign was guided by the Holy Spirit in the context of prayerful discernment. However, Benedict also did set an example on how a resignation should come about. In his book-interview “Last Testament”, the Pope Emeritus replies to journalist Peter Seewald:

“[Peter Seewald] Nevertheless the Italian media speculated that the true background to your resignation is to be found in the Vatileaks affair, not only in the Paolo Gabriele case, but also in the financial problems and intrigues among the Curia. Ultimately you were so shocked at the 300-page investigation report into these things that you could see no other way out other than to make space for a successor.

 [Benedict] No, that is not right, not at all. On the contrary, the Vatileaks matter was completely resolved. I said while it was still happening – I believe it was to you – that one is not permitted to step back when things are going wrong, but only when things are at peace. I could resign because calm had returned to this situation. It was not a case of retreating under pressure or feeling that things couldn’t be coped with.

 [Peter Seewald] In some newspapers there was even talk of blackmail and conspiracy.

 [Benedict] That’s all complete nonsense. No, it’s actually a straightforward matter. I have to say on this that a man – for whatever reason – thought he had to create a scandal to clean up the Church. But no one has tried to blackmail me. If that had been attempted I would not have gone, since you are not permitted to leave because you’re under pressure. It’s also not the case that I would have bartered or whatever. On the contrary, the moment had – thanks to be God – a sense of having overcome the difficulties and a mood of peace. A mood in which one really could confidently pass the reins to the next person.”

In other words, now is not the moment. We should not ask for resignations while the current crisis is still raging on. On the contrary, now is the time we are more in need of a solid leadership to clean up the house and stabilize the boat.


Now, I don’t know what the future will bring. Maybe Viganò’s allegations may have some truth to it. Maybe Pope Francis will take all this upon himself and resign. Maybe Pope Francis will resign on account of a completely separate issue (he has hinted at that possibility before all this mess.) I certainly do not wish to limit the scope of his options: the hard decision to resign surely falls on his purview.

On the contrary, this article is directed at those who are asking of him something that is his prerogative and his alone, showing many reasons why demanding Francis’ resignation is not prudent at this point and may backfire in many ways that are not being considered by the majority of people commenting on this topic.

The abuse crisis of the Church should’ve been handled differently by the clergy, but the laity could also have reacted in a different way, denouncing what’s bad and asking for accountability while at the same time maintaining unity with the Church and its teachings and especially keeping a level-headed, rational attitude. As I have tried to explain in many of my recent articles (see here and here,) the supernatural function and essence of the Church remains untouched and we should not fear the purification that may arise from these scandals. In fact, we should actually be welcoming it, but in a serene way. What we have instead is many emotionally-driven reactions asking for drastic measures, without any concern for their consequences, feasibility or applicability.

Also, if I’m allowed to be blunt, trying to force the Pope to resign because you don’t like his teachings is not the Catholic way to act. And no, trying to hide behind concern for the abuse scandals and the well-being of the Church does not cut it, because the bias of many people is showing. They never liked Francis in the first place and want to see him gone from the Chair of Peter. You do not save the Church by acting like this… the correct way to help the Church is through repentance and humility on your part: repentance of the grave sin of dissent and scandal whenever Francis’ papacy and magisterium were undermined; and humility to acknowledge that you don’t know everything about Church doctrine and that Catholicism is meant to challenge your own worldview, not just the worldviews of others.

In this, I find in Pope Francis’ reaction to Arb. Viganò a paradigm of how we should be acting. He didn’t pile up on the stampede, he didn’t add to the mudslinging, nor did he find ways to excuse himself by accusing others and blameshifting. He simply, in a very calm and dignified way, stimulated an objective and dispassionate investigation from third parties and entrusted himself to whatever the outcome may be, for he doesn’t fear truth, but rather is confident that truth will vindicate him. Regardless of what may come, most of us could learn much from this attitude.

 

Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

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15 Responses

  1. Ralph says:

    If Pope Francis resigns it will be tantamount to allowing the media and the right-wing, predominantly American faction within the Church to have a veto over the pope. The fact that these right-wing figures only now seem to care about abuse now that they have a pope that they hate is telling. Where were they when Pope John Paul II was lauding Father Maciel? Was that OK because Pope John Paul II was a staunch anti-communist and opposed liberation theology?

    Please note that I am not attacking Pope John Paul II, although in hindsight I think he made mistakes with regard to trusting too many priests simply because they were outwardly very orthodox. I suspect that due to his experience in communist Poland where the government could make up false accusations to attack its enemies, JPII perhaps assumed only the worst of those who brought up unfavorable information about the clergy.

    Whatever happens I am glad that Pope Francis has been creating more cardinals from among the non-Western clergy. Not that non-Western priests are automatically holy but the Culture War narrative that dominates in the West does not touch on many of the concerns among the faithful in the Global South who now make up the largest and fastest growing segment of the Church. I think reform is needed, especially with regard to clerical discipline, but palace coups and Renaissance-style intrigues are not going to help the Church repair its damaged moral authority and move forward.

  2. jong says:

    i find the story of caiphas intrguing and i hope you see the typology.
    caiphas is not a pharisee but a political appointee that occupy the seat of moses, to
    prophesy the death of jesus christ the head of the church.
    now we are in a situation where evil forces will force the issue of resignation and
    if pope francis resist then a political appointee would be propose to solve the church
    crisis. this new caiphas will be instrumental to the death of the Vatican church the “body of christ”

    reflect and ponder ccc675 to ccc677

    godbless

  3. Michael F says:

    This misses the mark. Is “truth” an ideological standard that you have to be “conservative” to embrace? Can we not agree on the objective facts here? 1, There is a clear connection between active homosexual prelates and the abuse of vulnerable people. 2, There is an ideologically driven group who wish for more laxity in religious “law” (i.e. clear Tradition) regarding divorce/remarriage, homosexuality and other sinful behavior. 3, 1 and 2 converge in all of these scandals as culprits. 4, this conclusion is not based in an ideology, but any clear headed view of the simple facts before us. They lead inevitably to 5, The Church must right itself based upon Tradition, faithfulness to Her teachings on sexual morality and what makes a man fit for Holy Orders. I don’t see how ANY other conclusion presents itself. I believe that, if you can’t see this conlusion as patently obvious, then you are, yourself, ideologically part of the encampment within the Church that has caused this crisis to begin with. QED

    • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

      I think your comment is what misses the mark, since nothing of what you said has any bearing on whether Pope Francis is guilty of the charges or not or whether he should resign. Unless you think that it is legitimate to ask for Pope Francis’ resignation, even accusing him with unfounded claims, just in order to remove him and uphold so-called “Tradition”… but that would be consequentialism. Furthermore, if you believe that, I suggest you re-read the penultimate paragraph of this article, since it applies.

      But even if your convoluted rationale had any bearing on the OP, all its premises are questionable. Let’s see:
      ***************************************************
      1) “There is a clear connection between active homosexual prelates and the abuse of vulnerable people”

      From Kathleen McChesney, first director of the USCCB’s Office of Child and Youth Protection, on the findings of the John Jay Report (1950-2010):

      “Despite the fact that 81 percent of the victims of clergy abuse in the United States were males, the report states that homosexuality was not the cause of the sexual abuse crisis. The John Jay College researchers and other researchers of the subject have found no data to indicate that homosexual orientation is a cause or risk factor for abuse of children. Clergy who exhibited homosexual behavior were not significantly more likely to abuse minors than those who did not. Sexual identity is different, of course, from sexual behavior, and the study did not identify the sexual orientation of all the offenders. The report suggests that one reason the majority of victims were male may be that boys were more accessible to the predators than girls. The data show that the percentage of girls who were victims increased after girls were allowed to become altar servers.”

      Also, I would caution you not to conflate different sexual orientations, like homosexuality with pedophilia and ephebophilia.
      ***************************************************
      2. “There is an ideologically driven group who wish for more laxity in religious “law” (i.e. clear Tradition) regarding divorce/remarriage, homosexuality and other sinful behavior. ”

      That there is such a group is undeniable, but this has absolutely no bearing on the topic at hand. Also, I would like that you would clarify whether you count Pope Francis on such a group, because Pope Francis has the authority to interpret Tradition, even in a way that Michael F. may find lax. The power of the Keys is to bind and *lose* too.
      ***************************************************
      3) “1 and 2 converge in all of these scandals as culprits”

      There are also culprits of abuse and cover-up in the conservative realm. Fr. Maciel, Bishop Finn, Archbishop Nienstedt, Anthony Cipolla… and so it seems, Archbishop Viganò too.

      It’s a matter of Original Sin, not of political affiliation
      ***************************************************
      4. “this conclusion is not based in an ideology, but any clear headed view of the simple facts before us”

      It *is* based on ideology and you are poisoning the well. In fact, you have done so since the beggining of your comment. By claiming that anyone who has a clear head will agree with you, you automatically imply that anyone who disagrees with you does not have a clear head. Also, you call your contentions “truth” and “objective facts”, which is petitio principii
      ***************************************************
      5. “The Church must right itself based upon Tradition , faithfulness to Her teachings on sexual morality and what makes a man fit for Holy Orders”

      Even if it doesn’t flow from the premises (and doesn’t have anything to do with the abuse scandal), I actually agree with this conclusion, but I wouldn’t limit myself to teachings on sexual morality. I think it would do a lot of good if the Church (meaning many laity and clergy) would right themselves based on the well-founded Tradition of papal primacy, the need to assent to the Pope’s teachings on faith and morals and of being in Communion with the Pope. Also, I would like to point out that Amoris Laetitia *is* one of the Church’s “teachings on sexual morality”

      Now, there is a difference between Tradition (which we should uphold) and what Michael F. thinks is “clear Tradition.” If the latter goes against a magisterial teaching from a Pope, no matter how “clear” Michael F. thinks it is, it is not Tradition.
      ***************************************************
      Now, your post is indeed ideological, since it limits itself to repeating unquestionably a well-known narrative that is shared by all people from a certain ideological quadrant. I, on the other hand, can’t be part of an ideological encampment, since I don’t have an ideology, except my naturally Catholic allegiance to the Pope’s teachings (something I had with St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI already, so it’s hard to pin me in one ideological camp.)

      The proof is that I have not, in any way, contrary to many conservatives and liberals out there, used this scandal to score cheap points, be it by attacking the Church’s “laxity” (i.e. it’s Amoris Laetitia magisterial teaching) nor celibacy, nor anything else. Rather, I am of the opinion that we should not be finding easy scapegoats that conveniently fall neatly in our particular worldview, but should be studying the problem objectively and arriving at conclusions and implementing measures that may trascend ideological boundaries.

      I think the Church has successfully started achieving this (even if gradually and with a lot of room for improvement) since the Pensylvannia Report has shown that the abuse cases have dramatically decreased since 2002. So, if you are as objective as you claim, you will have to adhere to one of two conclusions… either your carefully crafted reasoning is wrong, and the solutions you propose are not needed (which means that something in your reasoning backfired)… or you admit that the alleged gay lobby has been rendered powerless since 2002, thus spoiling all your narrative to explain recent events.

      • Michael F says:

        It’s very possible that my comment was unclear. Let me state it this way:
        – Is it not true that the only form of human sexuality that is ordered is within a valid marriage open to procreation?
        – Furthermore, is it not also true that homosexuality is, according to Church teaching a disordered desire?
        – Furthermore, is it not true that in Church tradition the ordaining of homosexual men has been forbidden?
        – And furthermore, is it not also true that had the Church followed its own policy (of not ordaining homosexuals) there would be 80% fewer victims of abuse?
        – Also, is it not true that the homosexualist agenda within the clergy exists among these same men who are now accused of covering up for abusers?
        – Has not Pope Francis now been implicated by a credible witness as having his hands dirty in covering for McCarrick?
        – Has Pope Francis not also kept Cardinal Daneels, a known protector of an abuser as a close confident?
        – Did the victims in Chile get due process from the Holy Father, or did that only happen when his image was hurt by media?
        – Is the Pope’s second, Maradiaga also not embroiled in homosexual scandal in his home seminary?
        – What about Cocopalmerio? The gay, drug infused orgy in his apartments?
        -Paglia? Gay mural in a Cathedral?!

        Yes, the Pope should step down, because it is doubtful that even this HORROR is a comprehensive understanding of hows bad things are

        • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

          I never said your comment was unclear… in fact, my point is that your comment is *clearly wrong*

          I know that anti-Francis critics have a thing for the word “clear”, as if everything they agree with is “clarity” and everything they disagree with is “confusion”, but that is a misuse of those words in order to poison the well.

          Now, dealing with your questions:

          “Is it not true that the only form of human sexuality that is ordered is within a valid marriage open to procreation?”

          Yes

          “Furthermore, is it not also true that homosexuality is, according to Church teaching a disordered desire?”

          Yes

          “Furthermore, is it not true that in Church tradition the ordaining of homosexual men has been forbidden?”

          I am unaware. I know of Benedict’s ban, but that is hardly “tradition” if nothing else came before it. And even in Benedict’s ban, it is unclear to me if it applies to any homossexual man, or just to those who have been active and haven’t dealt with their tendency.

          “And furthermore, is it not also true that had the Church followed its own policy (of not ordaining homosexuals) there would be 80% fewer victims of abuse?”

          Not necessarily. You didn’t read the comment on John Jay Report I shared, right? It can be stated that abusers didn’t have a homossexual tendency, but just abused people who were most accessible to them. This is consistent with what I learned in my Legal Medicine classes: the main factors behind abuse are accessibility and power over the victim.

          “Also, is it not true that the homosexualist agenda within the clergy exists among these same men who are now accused of covering up for abusers?”

          Maybe. But homosexualist agenda is a very broad term for ideological partisans. I bet that you would include Pope Francis in such “homosexualist agenda”, and you would be wrong. So, before I answer this question, I need to know a “clear” (there ya go 😉 ) definition of “homosexualist agenda” and proof that the ones you accuse fit that definition.

          “Has not Pope Francis now been implicated by a credible witness as having his hands dirty in covering for McCarrick?”

          No. The witness is, according to what I have seen in unbiased reportings, far from credible.

          “Did the victims in Chile get due process from the Holy Father, or did that only happen when his image was hurt by media?”

          We don’t know how things would’ve turned out if his image was not hurt by the media, once he arrived to the Vatican and had access to the documentation and time to study the case.

          Also, I’ll not comment on any of the people you acuse, since I lack information on them. That’s actually one of the points of my article. On the other hand, I have shown you cases of conservative clergy doing cover-ups too, which you disregarded. Guilt by association does not prove anything.

          “Yes, the Pope should step down”

          Since nothing you said has any bearing on the reasons I provided on my article, I think my article stands.

      • Ralph says:

        Pedro,

        I know you were replying to another comment and not mine but I just wanted to say “thanks” for writing this. I live in the United States and it is very hard to find news and discussion on this very serious subject without either a “liberal” or “conservative” bias. American Catholics who are active in the public sphere are very much divided along ideological lines so it is hard to find a source that is not pushing an agenda. “Where Peter Is” is a very rare exception.

        Despite what I wrote in my first post I should note that it is not just conservative Catholics who are taking advantage of the scandal to score points. There are also liberal Catholics doing the same. Both sides have their scapegoats whether it is homosexuals, bad liturgy or Vatican II for the conservative side or the all-male priesthood and clerical celibacy for the liberal side. I would say that among the American laity the conservative Catholics are a bit louder, better organized and better funded but there is also a liberal side trying to win battles by taking advantage of the current crisis. None of this ideological warfare helps the Church or helps victims or helps to protect people in the future.

        • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

          I agree Ralph. As an outsider, I can say that many of the problems in the American Catholic Church stems from its over-polarization along ideological lines. It is interesting that even in Arb. Viganò’s testimony, that is the accurate assessment from Pope Francis on the American Church… the surprise and inability to grasp Francis’ intervention on Viganò’s part is telling.

    • Christopher Lake says:

      Michael,

      Active, promiscuous homosexuality among some priests is *one genuine component* in the scandals. That should not be downplayed or denied. It is there, and it is real. It is not the be-all-and-end-all of the scandals though. Active, promiscuous *heterosexuality* among some priests and Bishops is also a genuine component of the scandals. I am reminded of the priest in Pennsylvania who raped a teenage young woman, impregnated her, paid for her to have an abortion, and who then was, in a sin that cries to Heaven, “consoled” by his Bishop with a letter that took of the side of the priest over that of the raped young woman!

      As Catholics who should, more than anything, desire the *truth of all Church scandals* to come out, we should not have any illusions that such monstrously sinful actions can happen among both priests and Bishops that are often classified as so-called “conservative Catholics” *and* among those who are often classified as so-called “liberal Catholics.” Consider Father Maciel, with the Legionaries of Christ, defended for years by “conservative” Catholics, and eventually exposed for leading a double life of serious, ongoing, seemingly unrepentant sin. Consider Cardinal Law, defended for years by “conservative Catholics,” most of whom, I suspect, later came to different conclusions.

      My point here is not to vilify “conservative Catholics,” or to supposedly side with “liberal Catholics.” I am neither. I am a believing, practicing Catholic who holds to all of the teachings of the Church– imperfectly, sinfully, because I am a sinner, but truly. I don’t side with a particular tribal faction in the Church that pits itself against another tribal faction.

      My point is only to say that: 1. I want the truth of all scandals in the Church to be revealed, period, so that there can be healing, cleansing, and yes, justice, and 2. If we fall into thinking that it’s “those other Catholics, not the ones on our side” who are causing the scandals, then we are very likely going to be *missing the scandals in our own midst* and, later, very seriously regretting it.

  4. Thomas Edwards says:

    It is very important for all Catholics to know and believe that the Pope is with out error when he speaks on Faith or Morals. This is an issue of Morals. As Catholics we must accept the actions of Pope Francis as God’s will for the church and that he has received a revelation from the Holy Spirit. If we can not do this then we are throwing out the decrees of Vatican I We are taught that the Pope is protected by the Holy Spirit when he speaks on issues like these.

    • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

      Thomas, I must agree with carn and Dennis here. Infallibility is not the same as impeccability. The Pope can surely fail in his acts of governance, just like many Popes did in the past (notably St. John Paul II with Fr. Maciel.)

      My defense of Francis here is not based on him being protected from error when he deals with abuse scandals in the Church, but because I found the accusations being leveled against him to be severely lacking and probably inspired by dissent to begin with, since many want to remove the Pope no matter the pretext, since they disagree with his teachings.

  5. carn says:

    Whatever it is, it is horrible to watch.

    Have been mostly cut off from news for 2 weeks and feels somehow as if everything changed in the blink of an eye.

    It seems that whatever is the case, somehow someone or several people did something clearly wrong.

    And somehow someone or several people are putting out smoke.

    Because it seems to me, that whatever is the case, if Benedict did put some regulations, sanctions or similar upon McCarrick, then there must be some paper somewhere in the Vatican about that being a case; it is unthinkable that the privileges of a cardinal would be limited only by unwritten words.

    If there is no such document, then Vigano has either memory problems or is lying.

    If there is such a document, then however is responsible for McCarrick ending up as advisor to Pope Francis although there were such regulations, sanctions, etc. without the charges carefully studied and the sanctions, etc. formally lifted is either very incompetent or deliberately did not care. And that someone should consider a resignation.

    But everything else seems to be like smoke, the usual who said in private meetings to whom when, etc., nothing to grasp.

    First thing therefore would be to verify whether Benedict did impose something on McCarrick.

    And how independent reporters can do that, i cannot see. Vatican bureaucracy should be ordered to bring up any such document.

  6. carn says:

    “It is very important for all Catholics to know and believe that the Pope is with out error when he speaks on Faith or Morals. This is an issue of Morals.”

    Can you explain that?

    As far as i know nothing in the allegations would in any way touch papal infallibility, as nothing of it in any way is a matter of teaching faith and morals by the Pope.

    The Pope allegedly did lift sanctions, ignored what the crime these sanctions were for might imply about McCarricks suitability for any job in the Church much less as Papal advisor, did cover up abuse and some other alleged things.

    There is no teaching in it to which catholics have to adhere. Pope Francis actually even said verbatim that he would not comment on the allegations (at least now). So Pope Francis did not speak about the issue.

    “As Catholics we must accept the actions of Pope Francis as God’s will for the church and that he has received a revelation from the Holy Spirit.”

    No, no, no, no, and i would repeat it forever.

    No catholic is ever required to believe that a certain action – so an activity that does not include any teaching of faith and morals – of a Pope is due to divine revelation; allegedly there have been Popes who committed various serious sins even including murder while in office; no catholic has ever to presume that such actions are in any way due to God’s will.

    If Pope Francis horribly failed in dealing with McCarrick, then he horribly failed in that; and that would not require anything of catholics except maybe prayers for more holy bishops and popes.

  7. Dennis says:

    Without error on matters of Faith or Morals. Yes, but the Pope hasn’t made a statement on Viganos allegations. He asked journalists to investigate, that’s all.

  1. September 1, 2018

    […] years old’, in other words, to be drawn into the thickets and weeds of ecclesiastical intrigue. One commentary observed that rather than ‘accusing others and blameshifting,’ Francis ‘simply, in a very […]

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