Tough times for the new squad of the pope’s press agents. The first public statement that Alessandro Gisotti, the new director of the press office of the Holy See, released after embarking on his role concerns the case of an Argentine bishop (in the photo) who is in danger of smashing to smithereens the strategy that Francis has adopted for addressing the question of sexual abuse committed by sacred ministers.
It is the strategy that also inspires the letter that the pope sent at the new year to the bishops of the United States gathered for spiritual exercises in view of the summit that will bring to Rome from February 21 to 24 the presidents of all the episcopal conferences of the world.
In this letter as well, in fact, as he had previously done with the bishops of Chile, Francis places himself on the side of the powerless and the victims of power, meaning the innocent “people of God,” against the clerical caste that indeed abuses sex, but in his judgment abuses more than anything else and first of all nothing other than “power.”
It doesn’t matter that in the case of Chile Francis himself was the one who, to the very end and against all the evidence, defended the innocence of bishops whom he finally had to acknowledge as being guilty. Nor does it matter that in the case of the United States he stands accused of having given cover and honors to a cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, in spite of knowing about his reprehensible homosexual activity. In both cases Francis absolved himself either by blaming those who had advised him badly or by refusing to respond to those who – like former nuncio in the United States Carlo Maria Viganò – personally called him to account. And also at the summit at the end of February he was getting ready to reproduce this typically populist dynamic, with himself in the guise of purifier of a clerical caste soiled by power.
But now that the case of Argentine bishop Gustavo Óscar Zanchetta has exploded, all of that becomes more difficult for the pope.
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