The report on the Church’s failure in child and adult sex abuse is a shock, as are the attempts to hide that abuse – particularly in our noted Catholic schools, Downside and Ampleforth, which are criticised for the abuse, the hiding of it, and failure to co-operate with safeguarding measures laid down for the Church. We have become aware once again of how long our abused little ones have been kept waiting for justice. It is a shameful and shocking report on the moral health of our Church authority.
Cardinal Nichols offered to resign, accepting his failings to listen over many years. Pope Francis has refused to accept his resignation, presumably because he thinks the Cardinal must put right what he allowed to be wrong. Why should someone else be given that responsibility? Pope Francis worked similarly with the bishops of Chile who all offered to resign when their horrifying failures became public. Pope Francis refused their wholesale resignation and told them he would dismiss them as their individual guilt became known. There was to be no hiding place in collective guilt. The shame is there, we all know it, put it right and then you may go – seems to be the Pope’s attitude.
These open condemnations should have happened long ago. The Vatican masters of deceitful bishops and abusing priests knew much but they wanted it not to be public. Where decisive action was needed they failed. Including Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Benedict has admitted his failures, horrified and overwhelmed at the number of cases around the world, knowing of priests and bishops and cardinals having sexual affairs and he felt not strong enough or supported enough to deal with the problems. So he resigned to leave the problem to a stronger man.
This week the truth became public about Cardinal Mc Carrick, no longer a cardinal or priest, an abuser who achieved promotions even though the Vatican knew of his scandalous life. In the Vatican scheme of problems, sexual immorality does not seem to rate high (read the awful “In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy”) and around the world where bishops and priests are known and even expected to have women (what a horrifying phrase “to have women”). Pope Benedict admitted he knew about that, too, but felt helpless because it is so common.
Cardinal Burke, based in Rome as a consequence of failures in his diocese in the USA, constantly inveighs against an immoral homosexual culture in the Vatican and blames those relationships as part of the failure in Vatican government.
These are sad revelations, but it is always better to know the truth. We may still run away and hide, the mockery of our world calling us hypocrites, and we may close our eyes to the tears of our abused women and children, but that’s life, that’s Church. If we don’t know we don’t have to care or do anything.
The Church is self-destructing and we must do more than re-arrange the furniture.
(15th November 2020)