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Catholic Prelates Must Speak Out, Now, as the Faithful are Attacked by their own Shepherds

The following reflection is the result of a couple of days of my reading and thinking about the last five years, but then also about the last fifty years. Trying to get an interview with a prominent Catholic politician, I just wrote: “What went wrong in the last fifty years in the Church to such an extent that we could have now the McCarrick case?” And now we all have to figure that out.

As I recently wrote for different European outlets, at the heart of the matter is the loss of the Faith and the loss of the supernatural attitude and sensitivity. If I am constantly aware of a) the need of God’s grace to live a good life on earth unto eternal salvation and b) the danger of sin and the effects of a scandal, then all my acts will be more prompt unto the good, i.e., the salvation of souls. Thus, if I as a bishop see a priest living a homosexual life, I would promptly rebuke him, for the good of his own soul, and remove him from the priesthood, for the sake of the salvation of others.

It is that simple. Yet, the last decades have shown that those in responsible positions did not have that supernatural promptitude, but they too easily accommodated themselves to other entities or attenuations, such as human respect, the “carnal prudence” not to cause a stir, to let things sleep that sleep. And these avoidances apply also to cardinals and popes, as we now have painfully seen in the recent weeks.

Let us consider here what Edward Pentin just wrote. Speaking about the former Pope Benedict XVI and the punitive sanctions he allegedly had put on then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Pentin quotes a “reliable source close to Benedict” as saying:

The source said the allegations of abuse of seminarians by McCarrick, now 88, were “certainly something known” to Benedict. And, he said, “Certainly, it was known that McCarrick was a homosexual, that was an open secret, all were very aware of that.”

So, let us assume that at that time, it was not yet known that McCarrick had also abused minors, as it has been made known in the recent weeks. The source close to Benedict says that people knew in the Vatican that McCarrick was a practicing homosexual (and with seminarians who were under his authority, to boot). Why was he then not removed from his office? Why was he just quietly told to withdraw from public life, without even further punishing his violations of that private command?

Is this the way that the Catholic Church takes the Catholic Faith and her teaching seriously? Is this how you say what you mean and mean what you say? And then act accordingly!

Pentin himself ends his article with three very important questions:

  • Why were Benedict XVI’s sanctions against McCarrick never made public, and given only in the form of a private instruction?
  • Why were the sanctions not properly enforced after they were ordered?
  • What role did Cardinal Bertone play in the execution of Benedict’s order (in his testimony, Archbishop Viganò asserts that the cardinal had obstructed it)?

In light of these fundamental questions, I would also ask: what did the victims themselves and those who witnessed McCarrick’s homosexuality think when they never saw any sanctions put on him in public for his grave misbehavior? The victims must have thought that the Church does not sincerely care, after all; and the witnesses must have thought the same. Words become empty and hollow.

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