Sunday, September 2, 2018

“‘Do not let yourself be contaminated by this world’ does not mean isolating oneself and closing oneself to reality. No. Here too it should not be an external but interior attitude, of substance: it means to be vigilant because our way of thinking and acting is not polluted by the worldly mentality, that is, by vanity, greed, pride. In reality, a man or woman who lives in vanity, avarice, pride and at the same time believes and makes himself seen as religious and even condemns others, is a hypocrite.” —Pope Francis, today in Rome at the Sunday noon Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, commenting on the Gospel reading for today. Some observers saw this as an oblique reference to Archbishop Vigano, interpreting it as the Pope criticizing Vigano for his alleged “vanity, avarice, pride” and “hypocrisy”…


Day #9

Today is the 9th day since the publication of Archbishop Vigano’s “Testimony”

Attacks against Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s testimony, against his credibility and character, are intensifying.

Let’s set what is happening in context.

Vigano’s August 25 “Testimony” came out in a specific, dramatic context: after a summer of revelations about the cover-up of sexual abuse by members of the hierarchy. It is essential to remember this.

What was that context?

First, the revelations about the abusive actions of former Cardinal Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick, 88 years old. Those revelations, despite years and even decades of rumors, only came out in June, from the Archdiocese of New York, and led to McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.

June 20 was the date.

Here is a report by Catholic News Agency on June 20:

“The Archdiocese of New York announced Wednesday that an investigation it conducted into an allegation of sexual abuse against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who oversaw multiple U.S. dioceses, has found the accusation to be ‘credible and substantiated.’

“In the June 20 statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said the alleged abuse happened nearly 50 years ago while McCarrick was a priest of the New York archdiocese. It is the only such accusation against McCarrick that the archdiocese is aware of, Dolan said.

“Once the archdiocese received the allegation, they turned it over to local law enforcement, and it was ‘thoroughly investigated’ by an independent forensics team, Dolan said, noting that McCarrick has maintained his innocence, but is cooperating in the investigation.

“The Vatican has been informed of the accusation, and as a result, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, by order of Pope Francis, has prohibited McCarrick from public ministry. No official statement from the Vatican has been released.” (end of CNA story)

The weeks began to pass by, and questions began to be raised about how the Vatican would deal with this revelation.

On July 21, a month later, The Associated Press reported these questions in a widely reprinted story (link):

Could ‘culture of cover-up’ force Pope Francis to defrock McCarrick?

Updated July 21, 2018 at 10:29 AM; Posted July 21, 2018 at 9:58 AM

By The Associated Press

Revelations that one of the most respected U.S. cardinals allegedly sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians have raised questions about who in the Catholic Church hierarchy knew — and what Pope Francis is going to do about it.

If the accusations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick bear out — including a new case reported Friday involving an 11-year-old boy — will Francis revoke his title as cardinal? Sanction him to a lifetime of penance and prayer? Or even defrock him, the expected sanction if McCarrick were a mere priest?

And will Francis, who has already denounced a “culture of cover-up” in the church, take the investigation all the way to the top, where it will inevitably lead? McCarrick’s alleged sexual misdeeds with adults were reportedly brought to the Vatican’s attention years ago.

The matter is now on the desk of the pope, who has already spent the better part of 2018 dealing with a spiraling child sex abuse, adult gay priest sex and cover-up scandal in Chile that was so vast the entire bishops’ conference offered to resign in May….

The McCarrick scandal poses the same questions. It was apparently an open secret in some U.S. church circles that “Uncle Ted” invited seminarians to his beach house, and into his bed…

Fraternal solidarity is common among clerics, but some observers point to it as possible evidence of the so-called “gay lobby” or “lavender mafia” at work. These euphemisms — frequently denounced as politically incorrect displays of homophobia in the church — are used by some to describe a perceived protection and promotion network of gay Catholic clergy.

“There is going to be so much clamor for the Holy Father to remove the red hat, to formally un-cardinalize him,” said the Rev. Thomas Berg, vice rector and director of admissions at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, the seminary of the archdiocese of New York.

Berg said the church needs to ensure that men with deep-seated same-sex attraction simply don’t enter seminaries — a position recently reinforced by the Vatican at large and by Francis in comments to Chilean and Italian bishops. (end of Associated Press story)

A few days later, on July 27, McCarrick resigned from being a cardinal, and the next day, July 28, Pope removed him from the list of cardinals — something that has not happened in centuries.

(link) VATICAN CITY (AP) Saturday, July 28, 2018 — Pope Francis has accepted U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick’s offer to resign from the College of Cardinals following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy, and ordered him to conduct a “life of prayer and penance” in a home to be designated by the pontiff until a church trial is held, the Vatican said Saturday.

Francis acted swiftly after receiving McCarrick’s letter of resignation Friday evening [July 27] after recent weeks have brought a spate of allegations that the 88-year-old prelate in the course of his distinguished clerical career had sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians. The revelations posed a test to the pontiff’s recently declared resolve to battle what he called a “culture of cover-up” of similar abuse in the Catholic’s church’s hierarchy. (end AP story)

So, for the first half of the summer, there were weeks and weeks of reports about the need for Pope Francis to “battle a culture of cover-up” — and it was Francis himself who was calling it “a culture of cover-up.”

And then came the second major news event of the “pre-Vigano” summer:

2) the report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, which came out August 14 (link).

(Note: there are a number of serious questions that may be raised about this report, but they will have to wait for another time; for the moment, it is sufficient to place this report in this timeline.)

The August 14 exploded like a bomb on the Catholic world.

The report found that more than 300 Catholic priests had been guilty of sexually molesting or abusing more than 1,000 children over many decades, and that the Church hierarchy had consistently “covered up” for these guilty priests.

Here is the essence of it (link):

“More than 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania sexually abused children over seven decades, protected by a hierarchy of church leaders who covered it up, according to a sweeping grand jury report released Tuesday [August 14],” the Washington Post reported.

“The investigation, one of the broadest inquiries into church sex abuse in U.S. history, identified 1,000 children who were victims, but reported that there probably are thousands more.

“‘Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades,’ the grand jury wrote in its report.”

This sentence bears repeating; the impact of the Vigano text cannot be understood without this context: “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.”

This is a citation from a Grand Jury report. It has authority. It is devastating.

And that is the third element of the “pre-Vigano” context: the propagation of this news.

3) From August 14 to 24, for a full 11 days, the news of these two scandals was reported everywhere throughout the US and the world.

Catholics everywhere were shocked.

They had imagined that, given human weakness and propensity to sin, there might have been “some cases” of priestly abuse of children.

But they were taken by surprise at the number — 300 priests over 70 years in just a part of one state, Pennsylvania.

And they were horrified at the number of children who were victims: “more than 1,000” with the assertion that “there probably are thousands more.”

But most of all, they were horrified by the idea that no one had acted effectively to end this abuse.

They were horrified by the thought that the hierarchy, led in the final analysis by the Pope himself, had failed.

Around family dinner tables, across the country, Catholics and non-Catholics alike made the calculation: if there were likely “thousands” who had been abused in one part of Pennsylvania alone, then, in all 50 states, there may have been a thousand in each state, so, several times 50,000 across the country (150,000? 300,000?) — if the Grand Jury report was at all accurate…

And the shock was extreme.

It was a psychological karate chop to the souls of Catholics everywhere.

And, there was no effective and credible response to this report from Church officials.

Thus 11 days passed by.

And then, on August 25, Archbishop Vigano published his “Testimony.”

For the record, again, here is a link to the entire text (link).


An archbishop who had held high posts in the Vatican and in the US as a representative of the Vatican released a signed written statement saying, essentially, that the entire hierarchy of the Church had a responsibility in these matters, that the culture of the Church had become a culture of deceit and cover-up (here his words echoed those of Pope Francis himself) and that this was not the Church that Jesus Christ desired.

And he continued by saying that, despite various efforts by Pope Francis during his papacy to end this culture of deceit, the efforts had failed, and the culture had not been changed, but was burrowing its way even deeper into the fabric of ecclesial life.

And that, for this reason, Pope Francis himself should take responsibility, and resign.

And pandemonium ensued.


So now we are on the 9th day since Vigano’s revelations.

The Pope has not said a word about the revelations.

And the attacks on Vigano himself, his credibility, his honesty, are increasing.


Vigano a “hypocrite”?

The following piece appeared this morning on the website of Il Sismografo (“The Seismograph,” an instrument to register tremors in the earth which may become earthquakes, so, to register reports in the press which may have an earth-shattering effect on the Church).

It is an important website based in Rome which follows press reports on Church affairs from all over the world and in many languages.

It was founded at the beginning of this pontificate, or just before, by a very good man, Luis Badilla, a Chilean Catholic, a man with leftist sympathies because he has heart for the poor people of his country and in all of Latin America — a man sympathetic to, or really, enthusiastic about, the efforts of Pope Francis to emphasize the need for all Christians to love and care for the weakest, poorest and most vulnerable because this is what disciples of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, should do.

But Badilla — though he hates the thought that children, the weakest and most innocent, have been abused — has become increasingly critical of Vigano.

He thinks Vigano is being “used” to “bring down” Francis, and that this will be a disaster for the poor…. that the poor will lose their greatest defender, and that the Church will slip back into the grip of some person or group without the same heart for the weak and poor that he believes Francis has demonstrated… that the poor will lose their greatest defender… and that the world will sink ever more deeply into a pit of cruel exploitation and domination of the poor by the rich and powerful…

This morning, this is what Badilla wrote:

When I heard today how much Pope Francis said at the Angelus I thought of that infamous Viganò (link)

(by the editors of “The seismograph”)

(LB = Luis Badilla) I do not know why, but today, listening to and then reading what was said by Pope Francis before the recital of the Angelus, I thought of Carlo Maria Viganò, the “Savonarola from Varese.” Here is what the Holy Father said:

“‘Do not let yourself be contaminated by this world’ does not mean isolating oneself and closing oneself to reality. No. Here too it should not be an external but interior attitude, of substance: it means to be vigilant because our way of thinking and acting is not polluted by the worldly mentality, that is, by vanity, greed, pride. In reality, a man or woman who lives in vanity, avarice, pride and at the same time believes and makes himself seen as religious and even condemns others, is a hypocrite.”

But what about the substance of Vigano’s claims?

What about Vigano’s revelation, and condemnation, of a self-protecting network, going back for decades, that has prevented any serious Church effort to end the “culture of cover-up”?

Isn’t this precisely the type of “cleansing” and “reform” that Francis himself has been, gropingly, asking for during the five and a half years of his papacy?


One of the most perceptive comments about the entire affair has come from the pen of a British Catholic layman, Dr. Joseph Shaw, a professor at Oxford.

Alexander Joseph Ranald Shaw (born 1971, so now 47) is a British academic and the current chairman of the Latin Mass Society. (Note: Yes, this means that he is a proponent of the old, traditional Latin Mass, which Pope Benedict repeatedly insisted was “never abrogated”).

Shaw is the son of the late Thomas Shaw, 3rd Baron Craigmyle (1923-1998) and Anthea Craigmyle (née Rich) (1933-2016). He was educated at Ampleforth College and the University of Oxford.

He is currently a Fellow of Philosophy at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford. His main areas of interest are ethics, the philosophy of religion and medieval philosophy. In 2015, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Here is his analysis:

Vigano: Attacking the whistleblower: the abuse-enabling culture is alive and well in the Vatican (link)

September 1, 2018

By Dr. Joseph Shaw

In the current phase of the Church’s crisis, we are focusing as much or more on the enablers of abuse, than on the abusers themselves.

It is time we thought about them, because it removes the comforting impression that a “few bad apples” could be ejected from the priesthood and all would be well.

As is sometimes pointed out, perhaps 4% of priests were sex abusers.

The problem is the general ethos and culture which enabled them to carry on their abuse, and the superiors systematically protected the abusers.

Never mind the 4% of priests: it is the 60% or 80% or more of bishops and religious superiors who harboured sexual predators and provided them with fresh opportunities for abuse.

It may be that most of the priest-abusers have died or been laicised by now, but their hierarchical enablers, few of whom had to face up to their crimes when the clerical abuse became a big story in 2002, have continued to flourish.

This is an indication that, even if stricter reporting procedures have had a restraining effect on sexual predation by priests since 2002, the ethos and culture which made the abuse possible is still largely intact.

What is this culture? I have in previous texts tried to go beyond a superficial understanding of it with the help of two perspectives: first, the classic account of how conformism can distort an individual’s behaviour, and how it can take over an organisation; and second, the way that the rejection of the Church’s teaching on sexuality has destroyed the hierarchy’s ability to respond appropriately to cases of abuse.

In this post I want to consider things from a third perspective, which is connected with conformism: the pattern of abuse-enabling.

Eleven months ago I was defending the “Filial Correction,” and wrote this about some of its critics:

Something profoundly worrying about criticisms of the signatories of the Correction specifically for speaking out about problems which every informed Catholic already knows about, is the mindset it reveals, one focused not on the truth, but on appearances.

It is strongly reminiscent of the mindset at work in abusive families, where children are taught to pretend things are all right, when they are not: certain topics are not to be broached, certain facts are not to be referred to.

This attitude can be enforced not by the abusive parent directly, but by other family members who are trying to keep up appearances and hold the family together. It is nevertheless profoundly unhealthy, and indeed is linked to psychological disorders in the children.

We should fear any such attitude, however well-intentioned, invading the Church. If there are problems, we should talk about them, and not pretend they do not exist.

It is natural to ask whether, since Cardinal McCarrick was himself a sexual predator, those who defend him, and often had such long associations with him, are or have been sexual predators as well.

It is after all very possible.

But even if some are, I expect most are not.

They stand in relation to McCarrick as many family members stand in relation to an abusive parent.

They desperately try to protect him, not because they approve of what he does, but because they are terrified of the consequences of it all coming out.

They are frightened that the exposure of the abuser will destroy the family.

That specific fear is not, of course, entirely irrational, but the behaviour of these family members is not to be understood in simple, rational terms.

They are, after all, victims of the abuse, whether sexual or psychological, and this has shaped their behaviour in non-rational ways.

To put it in crude terms, they have for years and perhaps decades been bullied and brainwashed by the abuser, and the complex and self-contradictory message the abuser has sought to impress upon them includes the following: the abuser does no wrong; they are at fault for bad things which are happening; they are guilty and should fear the attention of outsiders; the abuser loves them and protects them; and terrible things would happen if he were removed from the scene.

Those who have internalised this message can go to astonishing lengths to protect the person who is making their lives hell, and to maintain the situation in which his behaviour can continue.

An added factor, particularly when we move from families to larger institutions, is when the abuser is able to promote favoured victims to the status of co-abuser, or give them other privileges which depend upon the continuing existence of the abusive system.

It is worth emphasising that I am talking about abuse, not what the secular press likes to call “consensual relationships with adults.”

Abuse does not stop being abuse when the victim turns 18, but the pattern of behaviour I am describing has little in common with, say, a seminarian having an affair with a fellow seminarian, or a woman outside the seminary, serious as that would be.

Nor am I principally concerned with sexual orientation: the pattern of behaviour can equally be displayed when the underlying abuse is not sexual at all, but psychological.

My interest here is the relationship between what we might call the core abuse and the penumbra of unhealthy attitudes and patterns of behaviour which come to be displayed by those around the abuser, even by people who don’t take part in the core abuse.

For these attitudes and patterns of behaviour in the circle around the abuser are themselves abusive.

Imagine a family or institution at whose apex there is a classic abuser.

He has surrounded himself with people who permit, facilitate, and cover up the abuse, and placed them in positions of privilege.

Beyond this inner circle there will be people who have not been completely conditioned by the abuse, for example because they are newer on the scene, or younger.

Most of them will have much more contact with the inner circle than with the abuser himself.

It is the inner circle who will do much, or perhaps even all, of the direct work of bullying and brainwashing these outer-circle people, who will be looking to them for guidance.

Consistently turning a blind eye to abuse, refusing to talk about it, becoming angry when certain topics are broached: these are powerful tools, if applied consistently to a captive audience over a long period of time.

They train the junior members of the institution or family in the behaviour which is expected of them.

This is a training in patterns of thought and behaviour which are unhealthy: which are harmful to mental health.

They are gaslighting them.

This will work most profoundly in a closed institution like a cult, but it can work in families, seminaries, dioceses, the whole Church, and indeed in a whole society.

The more open the institution the harder it will be for a culture of abuse to distort members’ sense of justice and of what is normal, but it can still work to a large extent.

This is how totalitarian states can continue to exist.

The most important thing for abuse-facilitators to do is to keep a lid on the exchange of information and dissent.

This is a very pronounced principle in many cults, and of course in repressive states.

In institutions and families which have limited coercive measures to employ against members, social pressure is the key to this.

People who speak out internally or seek to attract the attention of outsiders are subjected to vilification and ostracism.

Abusive institutions are generally also on the look-out for scapegoats to blame for their poor functioning, so hysterical attacks on whistleblowers can serve a double purpose.

The people attacking the whistleblowers are, to repeat, not necessarily the top-level abusers in the institution.

They are people who are both abused and abuser: who are inflicting on others what they fear will happen to themselves.

At the limit, we might want to absolve them from blame altogether: they may be too terrified and pyschologically damaged to think straight.

But my concern is not with Maoist China; I’m talking about something at the milder end of the range.

The Church is a dysfunctional family, not a death-cult.

The unbalanced attacks on Archbishop Viganò, the desperate attempts to change the subject, are not being carried out by brain-washed zombies.

They are being carried out by people who have got into a habit of protecting the institution regardless of the rights and wrongs of it.

Talking of tiers of abuse may seem a rather extreme approach to analysing a simple problem of over-zealous loyalty to the Church, but remember, we now know that we are dealing with the institutional manifestation of widespread sexual abuse.

The question I am probing is: given that we have had an endemic abusive system at the heart of the institution for fifty or more years, at the level of the episcopacy, the seminaries, and even the Roman curia, what effect on the overall culture of the Church has it had?

The answer is that it will have done its best to draw into its distorted mind-set as many people involved with the Church as possible.

It will have done its best to inculcate in them the abusive assumptions that the system is not, really, bad; the victims are guilty; and it would be terrible if the system is exposed: whistleblowers are traitors.

We know how ruthlessly men too strong, too healthy, to bow to this set of attitudes have too often been treated.

We know the kind of weak and weaselly individual who too often has found preferment in this system.

Thank heaven, there are exceptions.

I am not making a generalisation about bishops or priests, so much as an observation of the direction in which things have been pushed, a direction we would not have gone in at all had it not been for the poison of abuse eating away at the good sense of good people in the Church over many decades.

This problem will not quickly be cured.

Removing the chief abusers and their chief enablers is obviously urgently necessary.

Making it clear to the next rank down, to people who have consciously or half-consciously been aiding abuse and its cover-up, that this is unjust and continues and spreads deeply damaging attitudes and behaviours — that it is itself abusive — is the next step.


A letter from a friend

I received this email from a friend.

Dear Friends:

In my opinion, Pope Francis and the Cardinals at the Vatican are doing enormous damage to their credibility by remaining silent about Vigano’s fundamental charges — which, one would assume, they could easily demolish if they were all a pack of lies — and by evading reporters or issuing non-denial-denials.

Rod Dreher goes overboard sometimes, but in this post below, I fear that, as much as we need to vigorously follow the principle of innocent until proven guilty, the way the Vatican is acting makes them look extremely suspicious — if not much worse — to many ordinary observers who have no ideological agendas, and many who have been sympathetic to Francis, but who are now beginning to have serious doubts about his honesty and integrity.



So, my friend thinks the Vatican has been too silent for too long, and that this makes them look “extremely suspicious.”

And here is the essay which he refers to by Rod Dreher, an American Catholic convert who then converted to Orthodoxy, (so, he is not another Catholic writer criticizing the Vatican and the Pope, he is Orthodox) where Dreher dismantles the problem, which is that “stonewalling silence” gives the impression of…. “complicity.”

Stonewalling Silence = Complicity With Sex Abuse (link)

By ROD DREHER • September 1, 2018, 8:37 PM

Credit where credit is due: The New York Times (link) called every curial cardinal accused by Vigano in his letter, asking them for comment. Here’s what happened:

Following the pope’s lead, the Vatican has gone on lockdown.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, whom Archbishop Viganò also accused in the letter of covering up sexual misconduct by Cardinal McCarrick, rushed a reporter off the phone on Thursday evening.

“Look, I’m not in my office. Good evening. Good evening,” he said. And he was the most talkative.

The Times reached out to every cardinal and bishop said by Archbishop Viganò to have known about the alleged sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick by Benedict. More than a dozen of them declined or did not answer requests for comment.

Remember what Francis said about the Vigano letter on the plane earlier this week, speaking to journalists?:

I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions. It’s an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak. But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you. That’s good.

But he is not doing the one thing he could do to help journalists do the work he says he wants them to do: tell the cardinals to answer journalists’ questions.

The Catholic philosopher Francis Beckwith, who returned to the Roman church after many years as an Evangelical, writes about the current mess (link):

But when given the opportunity to stem the tide of confusion — to offer a word of solace, comfort and hope to the long-suffering Catholics he is obligated by his office to shepherd — Pope Francis announced, in response to a question from the press, that he had taken a vow of silence on these matters, though nevertheless encouraging the press to investigate for themselves and to make up their own minds. Because I have never been a bishop, let alone a pope, I have no idea whether this sort of answer is wise or foolish. But from the vantage point of a layman who has only been back in the Church for a mere 11 years, the Holy Father’s answer seemed tantamount to saying, “Who am I to ‘pope’?”

Yet, after some reflection, I am willing to give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t abdicating his fatherly role to lead the flock through this challenging time. For in order for members of the press to do their jobs and investigate these matters — to confirm or disconfirm the claims in Archbishop Viganò’s testimony — they must have complete and total access to the evidence mentioned in the letter’s lone footnote: “All the memos, letters and other documentation mentioned here are available at the Secretariat of State of the Holy See or at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C.” As we know from the Pennsylvania attorney general’s report as well as the McCarrick scandals, the Vatican has the power, if ordered by the Pope, to lift any veils of secrecy that do not permit the press to view these materials.

Consequently, if the media make the request to examine the documents and memos cited in Archbishop Viganò’s testimony, the Holy Father cannot refuse without undermining his credibility and by default his papacy. Even the Pope knows that a “Who am I to ‘pope’?” answer will not suffice when the hope and faith of millions hangs in the balance.

Meanwhile, the Catholic actress Patricia Heaton tears into one of Francis’s more clericalist courtiers:

Patricia Heaton

Your arrogance is quite bold. The laity is the church. They have sacrificed finances to give their children a Catholic education, have tithed, followed church tradition, looked for guidance. To have any moral authority, @Pontifex must release any reports of abuse. Period.

Austen Ivereigh@austeni
Replying to @PatriciaHeaton @Pontifex
I think you may be confusing the pope with the CEO of a corporation who has justify himself to shareholders. The Holy See is a sovereign state; it doesn’t “release records”. Nor does the pope respond to lobbies or pressure groups. Keeping some things private is not “covering up”.

That is the kind of courage that is eventually going to force the truth out of this stonewalling pope and hierarchy. The stone-cold nerve of these men, thinking they don’t have to be accountable for their behavior, which has cost the Catholic Church in the US over $3 billion, and immeasurable sums of moral authority. These lords of the manor prey on the children of the laity — including their sons in seminaries — and cover up for each other when they’re caught.

If this pope, and these cardinals, are not guilty of Vigano’s charges, then why can’t they come forward and say so? Why are they afraid of the truth? Is it that they are afraid to lie, because they don’t know which documents Vigano has in reserve that will show them up to be frauds?

And now there are the beginnings of a popular movement.

This suggests that the problem is growing beyond the bounds of the “chattering class” — authors of emails and blogs and newsletters, like this one — and actually reaching into the hearts and minds of the ordinary “people in the pews.”

‘We deserve answers now’: 5,000 Catholic women pen letter to pope (link)

Vatican City, Aug 30, 2018 / 01:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of lay Catholic women have written an open letter to Pope Francis, demanding that he answer the questions raised by the recent allegations in the letter from former U.S. nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

In the opening of their letter, the women recall a quote from Pope Francis on the role of women in the Church: “You have said that you seek ‘a more incisive female presence in the Church,’ and that ‘women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from [men], with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.’”

“We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers,” the letter notes.

Specifically, they are seeking answers to the questions raised in Vigano’s recent letter, which accused Pope Francis and other members of the Church hierarchy for covering up sexual abuse allegations against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

The women’s questions for Pope Francis include if or when he was made aware of any sanctions allegedly placed on then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI, and whether he brought McCarrick back into public ministry despite knowing about these sanctions and accusations.

Asked these questions by journalists on his return flight from the recent World Meeting of Families in Ireland, Pope Francis responded by saying he “will not say a single word on this” and instead encouraged journalists to study the statement themselves and draw their own conclusions.

“To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate,” the signers of the letter say, addressing the Pope’s response. “They sting, reminiscent of the clericalism you so recently condemned. We need leadership, truth, and transparency. We, your flock, deserve your answers now.”

“Please do not turn from us,” they ask in the letter. “You’ve committed yourself to changing clerical ways in the Church. That a cardinal would prey on seminarians is abhorrent. We need to know we can trust you to be honest with us about what happened. The victims who have suffered so greatly need to know they can trust you. Families, who will be the source of the Church’s renewal, need to know we can trust you, and thus trust the Church.”

The women who have signed the letter serve in a variety of positions and vocations within the Church, in both private and public life. They describe themselves as “deeply committed to our faith and profoundly grateful for Church teachings, the Sacraments, and the many good bishops and priests who have blessed our lives.”

They are “wives, mothers, single women, consecrated women, and religious sisters. We are the mothers and sisters of your priests, seminarians, future priests and religious. We are the Church’s lay leaders, and the mothers of the next generation. We are professors in your seminaries, and leaders in Catholic chanceries and institutions. We are theologians, evangelists, missionaries and founders of Catholic apostolates.”

“In short, we are the Church, every bit as much as the cardinals and bishops around you,” they say.

The letter is signed, “With love for Christ and the Church.”

Some prominent signers of the letter include Mary Rice Hasson, the Kate O’Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Professor Janet E. Smith, the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Leah Darrow, a Catholic speaker, author and evangelist; Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at The Catholic Association; Kathryn Jean Lopez with the National Review Institute; and Obianuju Ekeocha, the founder and president of Culture of Life Africa.

Other signers include professors and faculty from Catholic institutions including Notre Dame, The Catholic University of America, and the University of St. Thomas, as well as women who are mothers of seminarians, homeschooling mothers, business owners, philosophers and psychologists.

The letter, dated August 30, 2018, is described as the personal initiative of the original signatories and was not organized or sponsored by any group or organization.

It had 5,300 signatures as of press time [August 30, 2018].


The Letter now has 26,620 signatures.


Letter to Pope Francis from Catholic Women (link)

26,620 signatures

Sign the Letter (link)

NOTE: This letter reflects the personal initiative of the individual Catholic women signing this letter, and is not sponsored by any group or organization.

August 30, 2018

His Holiness, Pope Francis

Vatican City

Your Holiness:

You have said that you seek “a more incisive female presence in the Church,” and that “women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from [men], with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.”

We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers.

We are Catholic women deeply committed to our faith and profoundly grateful for Church teachings, the Sacraments, and the many good bishops and priests who have blessed our lives.

Our hearts are broken, our faith tested, by the escalating crisis engulfing our beloved Church. We are angry, betrayed and disillusioned. The pain and suffering of the victims never ends, as each news cycle brings more horrific revelations of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, cover-ups, and deceit—even at the Church’s highest levels.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s recent statement impels us to reach out to you directly for answers. His testimony accuses you, Holy Father, and highly placed cardinals of turning a blind eye to former Cardinal McCarrick’s egregious behavior, and promoting this predator as a global spokesman and spiritual leader. Is this true?

These are devastating allegations. As USCCB President Cardinal Daniel D. DiNardo recently stated, “The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence.” We agree.

Several crucial questions raised by Archbishop Viganò’s statement, however, require neither lengthy investigations nor physical evidence. They require only your direct response, Holy Father. When reporters questioned you recently about Archbishop Viganò’s charges, you replied, “I will not say a single word on this.” You told reporters to “read the statement carefully and make your own judgment.”

To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate. They sting, reminiscent of the clericalism you so recently condemned. We need leadership, truth, and transparency. We, your flock, deserve your answers now.

Specifically, we humbly implore you to answer the following questions, as the answers are surely known to you. Archbishop Viganò says that in June 2013 he conveyed to you this message (in essence) about then-Cardinal McCarrick:

“He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”

Is this true? What did Archbishop Viganò convey to you in June 2013 about then-Cardinal McCarrick?

When did you learn of any allegations of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct with adults by then-Cardinal McCarrick?

When did you learn of Pope Benedict’s restrictions on then-Cardinal McCarrick? And did you release then-Cardinal McCarrick from any of Pope Benedict’s restrictions?

Holy Father, in your letter to the People of God on the scandals, you wrote: “An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”

That’s why we expect you, our Holy Father, to be honest with us.

Please do not turn from us. You’ve committed yourself to changing clerical ways in the Church. That a cardinal would prey on seminarians is abhorrent. We need to know we can trust you to be honest with us about what happened. The victims who have suffered so greatly need to know they can trust you. Families, who will be the source of the Church’s renewal, need to know we can trust you, and thus trust the Church.

Please do not keep us at arm’s length on these questions. We are faithful daughters of the Church who need the truth so we can help rebuild. We are not second-class Catholics to be brushed off while bishops and cardinals handle matters privately. We have a right to know. We have a right to your answers.

We are wives, mothers, single women, consecrated women, and religious sisters.

We are the mothers and sisters of your priests, seminarians, future priests and religious. We are the Church’s lay leaders, and the mothers of the next generation.

We are professors in your seminaries, and leaders in Catholic chanceries and institutions.

We are theologians, evangelists, missionaries and founders of Catholic apostolates.

We are the people who sacrifice to fund the Church’s good work.

We are the backbone of Catholic parishes, schools, and dioceses.

We are the hands, the feet, and the heart of the Church.

In short, we are the Church, every bit as much as the cardinals and bishops around you.

Holy Father, we are the “incisive presence” the Church needs, and we need your answers.

With love for Christ and the Church,

*affiliations for identification purposes only

Mary Rice Hasson, JD
Kate O’Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies
Director, Catholic Women’s Forum
Ethics and Public Policy Center

Sarah Bartel
Consultant for Marriage and Family Life
Archdiocese of Seattle
Author, Speaker, Radio Show Host

Kari Beckman
Executive Director and Founder, Regina Caeli K-12 Programs
Executive Director and Founder, Veritatis Splendor Consortiums

Mary Beth Bonacci
Catholic Author and Speaker
Founder of Real Love, Inc.

Pamela Bradley

Madeline Bradley

Maria Buonforte
Business Owner

Anne Husted Burleigh

Marjorie Murphy Campbell, JD, LLM, JCL
Catholic writer

Grazie Christie, MD
The Catholic Assocation
Senior policy advisor

Margot Cleveland
Adjunct Instructor
University of Notre Dame

Teresa S. Collett
Professor of Law
University of St. Thomas

Marilyn E. Coors, PhD
Associate Professor
Center for Bioethics and Humanities
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Lisa Cotter
Author, Evangelist

Maria Cunningham
Mother, Teacher

Leah Darrow
Evangelist, Catholic author/speaker

Alexandra DeSanctis
Staff writer
National Review

Catherine A. Dowling, MD
University of Michigan

Obianuju Ekeocha
Founder & President, Culture of Life Africa

Theresa H Farnan, PhD

Maureen Ferguson
The Catholic Association

Jennifer Fulwiler
Radio Host and Author

Carrie Gress, PhD
Author and Philosopher
Pontifex University

Arina Grossu

Ann Gundlach
Couple to Couple Family League
Editor, Family Foundations

Mary Hallan FioRito
Cardinal Francis George Fellow in Catholic Studies
Ethics and Public Policy Center

Dr. Patricia Cooney Hathaway
Professor of Spirituality and Systematic Theology
Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI

Mary Healy
Professor of Sacred Scripture
Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Michele Hill
Business owner

Meg Kilgannon, FCP
Creighton Model Natural Family Planning
Parish NFP Coordinator

Angela Lanfranchi, MD, FACS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery
Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, NJ

Linda Loch
Teacher, Hospital Ministry

Kathryn Jean Lopez
Senior Fellow
National Review Institute

Ashley McGuire
The Catholic Association

Melissa Moschella, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
The Catholic University of America

Suzanne Mulrain
PhD candidate
John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies

Eva Muntean
Co-Chair, Walk for Life West Coast

Mary Anne Novak
Catholic Author

Carol Nyce
Mother of Seminarian
Former parish Director of Religious Education
Founding member, ParentAndChild

Mary O’Callaghan, PhD

Catherine R. Pakaluk, PhD
Assistant Professor of Social Research and Economic Thought
The Catholic University of America

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer
Legal Advisor
The Catholic Assocation Foundation

Natalie Robertson
Ethics and Public Policy Center

Kathryn Rombs, PhD
University of Dallas
Founder, Catholic Mother’s Retreat

Deborah Savage, PhD
Professor of Philosophy and Theology
St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity

Elizabeth R. Schiltz
John D. Herrick Professor of Law
Co-Director, Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought
Law and Public Policy, University of St. Thomas School of Law

Susan Selner-Wright, PhD
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary

Luma Simms
Ethics and Public Policy Center

Professor Janet E. Smith
Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Detroit, MI

Teresa Tomeo
Syndicated Catholic Talk Show Host

Hilary Towers
Psychologist and Author

Kathryn Vestermark
Professor of Theology

Kelly Wahlquist
President & CEO of WINE: Women In the New Evangelization

Jeanne White
Mother and businesswoman

Luanne D. Zurlo
Executive Director
Seton Education Partners

View All Signatures (link)


And now we have a “rumor” out of Rome…

That the Vatican is “soon” going to respind to Vignao’s “Testimony” with a statement.

The news comes from…. Il Sismografo… (link)


The Seismograph



Probable Vatican declaration to respond to Viganò’s accusations (link)

(by editors “The seismograph”)

(LB = Luis Badilla) The rumor that the Vatican will respond to Carlo Maria Viganò has been increasingly insistent since Friday [August 31], and it will do so, perhaps, in the coming days.

Obviously, they say, it will not be a declaration-response from the Holy Father Francis at neither from the Pope emeritus who — according to experts — would be unwise to enter into a direct controversy with an individual such as the “Savonarola of Varese” [that is, with Vigano, who comes from Varese in northern Italy].

With regard to the content of the probable communication, the Holy See could make several clarifications as well as refute the main accusations of the former Nuncio.

The two texts [the Itatlian is “papyrus,” two “papyruses”] of Viganò now total 16 pages that call into question dozens of people with almost a hundred situations and circumstances to be verified.

It is not easy to answer this kind of document that we have called papyrus right from the start because jurists using this word in cases like this want to underline the hieroglyphic complexity to be deciphered.

From the immediate mediatic point of view it is only possible to address the central issues that may then indicate the path toward separating lies from the truths in this operation.

In any case, an official document of the Holy See, with the seals of the Secretariat of State, is absolutely necessary because in this story the “Vatican narrative” is missing once again.

We only know that the Pope on Sunday evening on the plane returning from Ireland, questioned about the papyrus of Viganò by a journalist, said rightly: “I read this morning, that statement, I read it and I sincerely have to tell you this, to You and all those of you who are interested: read the statement carefully and make your own judgment, I will not say a word about this, I believe the statement speaks for itself, and you have enough journalistic capacity to draw conclusions. It is an act of trust: when some time has passed and you have drawn conclusions, perhaps I will speak, but I would like your professional maturity to do this job: it will do you good, really.”

In a few days, between 22 and 25 September, Pope Francis will visit the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) in the course of his 25th International Pilgrimage, and certainly he will be questioned by journalists on the Viganò matter when he returns on the plane.

A previous declaration by the Vatican would help the Pope to address the issue without having to go into details and instead offer a general reflection on the matter.

The moment makes the experts believe that an answer in the next few days is absolutely necessary and timely, even knowing that Viganò will return to action.

In all probability, with the help of his journalists, he will write another papyrus.

The man is like that, and he is not well.


So, that is the mood in Rome right now, among those who regard themselves as the most reliable supporters of Francis: that Vigano is mentally ill, that a Vatican statement will come soon, and that that statement will help Francis to make his own statement on September 25, three weeks from now, when he is on the plane flying back from a visit to the three Baltic countries.

In this regard, a comment: sometimes in a court, when the King has been isolated from the truth of a situation — as, for instance, in the case of a set of new clothes, when his evil tailor has clothed the King in garments made of nothing at all, and he is totally naked without realizing it — the best friends of the King are those who dare to speak the truth to him, because they truly care for him, while those who continue to tell him his non-existent clothes are “quite lovely, Sire,” are the ones doing him the most profound harm of all…


A homily worth listening to

A homily worth listening to; this is an audio file, not a video.

Homily from August 19, 2018, St. Raphael Parish,

7301 Bass Lake Road • Crystal, MN 55428 USA

Office Phone Numbers
Parish Office:
Fax 763-537-4878
[email protected]

Homilist: Father Robert Altier.


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