The World Meeting of Families 2018 concluded yesterday with a papal Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, and the atmosphere was decidedly somber and depressing. Organizers had planned a space for 500,000 people; police estimated that 130,000 showed up. The morning’s rain showers didn’t help, but they were concluded more than several hours before the liturgy with Pope Francis began.
Rain clouds were not the problem. The problem was the darker clouds of clergy and religious abuse of children which has covered Ireland for far too long now. The release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report added even further darkness. The irony of the World Meeting of Families celebrating marriage, heterosexuality, and children while news of abuse and cover-ups steadily streamed in was not lost on many of the Dubliners I met. While the lead up to the WMF was packed with LGBT controversies, during the week of the actual event, concern about child abuse was
And if Pope Francis’ slow response to the abuse was not enough to keep people away, on the eve of the papal Mass news hit that the former papal nuncio to the United States released a document claiming that the pontiff supposedly knew early about Theodore McCarrick’s abuses and did not sanction him. Archbishop Carlo Vigano’s attack on Pope Francis is filled with accusations and conspiracy theories, but what made it even more sensational was that it was saturated with claims about a “homosexual network” at work in the Vatican. The National Catholic Reporter article stated:
“Beyond his factual claims, Vigano’s letter is laced as well with ideological claims about other Catholic prelates. He says one, for example, has a ‘pro-gay ideology’ and that another ‘favored promoting homosexuals into positions of responsibility.’ “
And The New York Times reported:
“Archbishop Viganò, who blames gays for the child abuse crisis that has destroyed the church’s standing in many countries, dedicates entire sections of the letter to outing cardinals who he claims belong to what he characterizes as a pernicious homosexual current’ within the Vatican.”
[You can read New Ways Ministry’s response to Vigano’s letter by clicking here.]
The New York Times reported:
The willingness of the pope and his allies to reach out to gay Catholics has infuriated conservatives, who, like Archbishop Viganò, blame homosexuals for the sex abuse crisis. The pope has argued that the abuse is a symptom of a culture of privilege and elitism and imperviousness among priests who value the church’s traditions over its parishioners.
It’s also important to remember that while Vigano is casting stones about at people, his own record on clergy sex abuse is not spotless and contains hard evidence against him, not just accusations. Moreover, he has a strong record of being both anti-LGBT and anti-Francis. The National Catholic Reporter provided background:
“Vigano’s tenure in Washington [as papal nuncio to the U.S.] ended in controversy when his name surfaced in questions over how Francis came to meet a Kentucky county clerk who defied a U.S. federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples during his 2015 visit to the U.S. [Remember Kim Davis?]
“Francis accepted Vigano’s resignation from his diplomatic post in April 2016, about three months after the prelate reached the traditional retirement age of 75.
“Vigano himself has also been accused of covering up sexual misconduct.
“Three months after his departure from Washington, a 2014 memo he had written ordering the quashing of an investigation into alleged homosexual activity on the part of now former St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt was made public at the conclusion of a criminal investigation.
“Vigano had also ordered the destruction of a piece of evidence. Nienstedt resigned from his post in 2015.”
What’s most dangerous is that this public in-fighting only continues to erode the already weak credibility of church officials and deflects the focus from the real issues at hand. As Peter Isely, an abuse survivor, told The New York Times:
“This is infighting between curia factions that are exploiting the abuse crisis and victims of clergy sexual abuse as leverage in the struggle for church power. The sexual abuse crisis is not about whether a bishop is a liberal or a conservative. It is about protecting children.”
At one point in his document, Vigano claims:
“These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire church.”
What is “strangling the entire church” are not gay men in the clergy and hierarchy, but church leaders who cannot work with one another with the good of the people foremost in their minds.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, August 27, 2018