At this point in the pontificate of the man from Argentina, it seems that the function of honest Catholic commentators is to chronicle its steady implosion into a heap of scandals and cover-ups. Hence even a commentator as “mainstream” as Philip Lawler now declares that “since Francis was elected, the Vatican has actually moved backward [his emphasis] on two crucial fronts: the fight against sexual abuse and the quest for financial transparency. In this pontificate, the cause of reform is dead, unless the reform begins with the Pontiff himself.”
Lawler was discussing in particular the affair of Gustavo Zanchetta, friend and collaborator of Francis when he was head of the Argentine bishops’ conference. Francis, who was also Zanchetta’s confessor, made him bishop of the remote Argentinian diocese of Orán in 2013, one of his earliest episcopal appointments. Four years later, after Zanchetta had been forced to resign and take flight from charges of both financial and sexual misconduct (with seminarians), Francis created a post for him as “assessor” of the Vatican’s Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which handles the Vatican’s real estate and investments. APSA has never had an “assessor” before, as John Allen notes. Business as usual in the corruption-ridden Vatican court of this Pope.
And now Francis is about to stage-manage a sham summit on clerical sexual abuse, to be held from February 21-24, that will (as did the summit in 2002) continue to hide the exploding homosexual priest crisis under the title “The Protection of Minors in the Church.” The implication being that homosexual activity between clergy and other “consenting adults” is of no concern to Francis or the presidents of the national episcopal conferences who will be attending this useless dog-and-pony show.
Indeed, Francis has made it clear that he considers sins of the flesh in general to be no big deal. As Sandro Magister reports, drawing from a book-interview with the secular journalist Dominique Wolton, one of the Pope’s favorite sounding boards for the various thoughts that occur to him, Francis “lift[ed] the veil on his real thought” concerning what Francis vulgarly characterizes as “condemning only the morality that is – pardon me – ‘below the belt.’” Quoth Pope Francis:
“Sins of the flesh are the lightest sins. Because the flesh is weak. The most dangerous sins are those of the spirit. I am talking about angelism: pride, vanity are sins of angelism. Priests have the temptation — not all, but many — of focusing on the sins of sexuality, what I call morality below the belt. But the more serious sins are elsewhere….”
Francis then cited what he considers a good example of the correct pastoral approach to sins “below the belt” — namely, to minimize them and avoid any details:
“I know a cardinal who is a good example. He confided to me, speaking of these things, that as soon as someone goes to him to talk about those sins below the belt, he immediately says: ‘I understand, let’s move on.’ He stops him, as if to say: ‘I understand, but let’s see if you have something more important. Do you pray? Are you seeking the Lord? Do you read the Gospel?’ He makes him understand that there are mistakes that are much more important than that. Yes, it is a sin, but… He says to him: ‘I understand’: And he moves on. On the opposite end there are some who when they receive the confession of a sin of this kind, ask: ‘How did you do it, and when did you do it, and how many times?’ And they make a ‘film’ in their head. But these are in need of a psychiatrist.”
The crisis in the Church has reached such depths that we have a Pope who praises confessors who do not want to hear about sins of the flesh and who mocks as mentally ill confessors who do their duty by inquiring into the number and gravity of such sins — the very sins of which Our Lady of Fatima warned: “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”
We have a Pope who apparently does not see that mortal sins of the flesh lead to the ruin of souls, the destruction of marriages and families, the commission of innumerable crimes — from the manufacture and distribution of pornography, to prostitution to sex-trafficking — and ultimately to the fall of civilization itself.
And this is the Pope who will preside over the upcoming “summit meeting” on sexual misconduct by priests and bishops.
May the Holy Mother of God soon intercede before Her Son to bring an end to this disaster.
From the Fatima Center