Viganò's release of his testimony was timed to coincide for maximum effect with Francis's controversial trip to Dublin--already a public relations disaster due to lack of attendance. That disaster was compounded when Francis issued his non-denial statement in response to press questions about the Viganò testimony: "I will not say a single word ..." followed by a tacit appeal to the press to basically ignore it all.
Ordinarily that type of stonewalling by a super high profile public figure would be met with a storm of protest and accusation in the media. Just such a storm did in fact ensue, but mainly in the world of Catholic blogging and tweeting. The mainstream media, on the other hand, seemed strangely (or maybe not) indifferent.
Where to begin? In the past Catholic sex scandals involving the clergy have been widely characterized as pedophilia. Knowledge that this characterization was, in fact, inaccurate, that the problem was overwhelmingly one of homosexual priests preying upon adolescents and young men, had been carefully kept in the background. With this fresh outbreak of scandal, however, the Catholic blogosphere, fueled by Viganò's testimony regarding McCarrick's abuse of seminarians, quickly galvanized around the accusation of a powerful "lavender mafia" of homosexual prelates dominating the post Vatican II Church.
The Catholic blog Rorate Coeli has published a handy review of the known situation by the eminent Italian historian of Vatican II, Roberto de Mattei:
The homosexualization of the Church started to spread in the 1970s and 1980s, as the meticulously documented book by Father Enrique Rueda reveals: The Homosexual Network: Private Lives and Public Policy, published in 1982.
In order to understand the situation at that time, it is essential to read the study dedicated to Homosexuality and the Priesthood. The Gordian Knot – of Catholics? by Professor Andrzej Kobyliński of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw.* Kobyliński cites a book entitled The Changing Face of the Priesthood: A reflection on the Priest’s Crisis of Soul, (2000) by Donald Cozzens, Rector of the Cleveland Seminary in Ohio, wherein the author states that at the beginning of the 21st century the priesthood became a “profession”, exercised predominantly by homosexuals and we can even talk about “a heterosexual exodus from the priesthood.”
In 2004 The John Jay Report appeared, a document prepared at the request of the American Episcopal Conference, in which all the cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons, from 1950 to 2002, were analyzed. This document of almost 300 pages is of extraordinary informative value – writes Kobyliński. The John Jay Report “demonstrated the link between homosexuality and sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. According to the report of 2004, in the overwhelming majority of cases of sexual abuse it is not about pedophilia, but ephebophilia, that is, a degeneration that consists not only of sexual attraction towards children, but towards adolescent boys, at the age of puberty. The John Jay Report demonstrated that about 90% of the priests condemned for sexual abuse with minors are homosexual priests.”
The McCarrick scandal is therefore not the last act in a crisis that goes way, way back. Yet, in the “Letter of the Pope to the People of God, and throughout his trip in Ireland, Pope Francis has not once denounced this moral disorder. The Pope maintains that the main problem in sexual abuse by the clergy is not homosexuality but clericalism.
Francis's ambivalent stance toward established Catholic teaching, dating back to the letters of Paul to the early churches, has been well documented from the beginning of his papacy, starting with his famous "Who am I to judge?" Not as well known outside the Catholic blogosphere has been his relentless advancement of prelates who are not only favorable toward the acceptance of homosexuality but who are notorious for living a "gay" lifestyle themselves. I can hardly do better than link to this account of the episode in which Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia commissioned a homoerotic mural for his cathedral church which featured "Jesus carrying nets to heaven filled with naked and semi-nude homosexuals, transsexuals, prostitutes, and drug dealers, jumbled together in erotic interactions." Paglia himself was included in the mural, embracing a naked man, and the image of Christ was modeled on a local male hairdresser. Paglia now heads the Pontifical Academy for Life and Francis also appointed Paglia as president of the Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family--after purging the institute of its orthodox members.
It's hardly surprising, then, that mainstream media outlets were initially loathe to attack the "gay friendly" Francis. Indeed, the mainstream media was inclined to dismiss Viganò's testimony in favor of damage control narratives that were floated by proxies for Francis. These narratives, however, have been almost universally derided. Cardinal Cupich's attempt to dismiss Viganò's testimony as a "rabbit hole" was greeted with well deserved ridicule:
Maybe the cardinal, who Viganò names in his letter as one of McCarrick’s favorites, is trying to cover his own rear; maybe he genuinely believes that recycling and border bridges are higher priorities than delivering justice for abuse victims and that “carrying on the work of the church” doesn’t include rooting out sin. Maybe some of both. But what stood out weren’t his political preferences or ideas about the church’s duties. It’s that “rabbit hole” remark.
American Thinker's Monica Showalter recently skewered Francis's own attempt to deflect the scandal with an appeal to plastics polluting the oceans: Pope Francis's plastic 'emergency', and the various attempts to portray testimony by a 77 year old, retired archbishop as a "power play" or even a "coup attempt" (for example) have gained little to no traction.
Finally, the notion that Francis's proxies have repeatedly raised, perhaps in imitation of Francis himself, that McCarrick's seemingly routine abuse of seminarians was unimportant because the seminarians were no longer minors drew this response from Hilary White:
Uh… guys? Let’s just ask the female acquaintances of Harvey Weinstein, shall we? Can you imagine the response if a Hollywood producer had used the excuse for his casting couch, “Well, she wasn’t under age…” We live in a time when looking at a woman the wrong way is a prosecutable offense. How is this even flying?
As a friend of mine said, “Emphasizing the age of consent is a form of what we now call ‘victim-shaming,’ implying that being sexually assaulted is somehow not a violation because you’re over a certain age.
“When your defence is, ‘Well, canon law doesn’t specifically state that raping and sexually assaulting seminarians is against the law,’ you really need a new strategy.”
Meanwhile, every day more American bishops, clearly alarmed at the metastasizing outrage among the faithful, are vouching for Viganò's integrity and calling for a full investigation of what Francis knew, when did he know it, and what did he do with that knowledge. Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia has even called for Francis to cancel the much anticipated (by "progressives") Youth Synod, stating that “The bishops would have absolutely no credibility.” What may have the bishops quaking in their shoes--as much as or even more than the uproar among the faithful--may be a clear trend among major mainstream media outlets to drop their hands off approach and adopt an increasingly aggressive attitude. Three leading liberal outlets have addressed the scandal in recent days in editorial, Op-Ed, and reporting formats.
That Boston Globe is editorially calling for the scandal to be handled by "law enforcement": Time’s up on Pope Francis and Catholic Church leaders being able to handle clergy abuse crisis.
The Washington Post has published a powerful opinion piece by mainstream conservative pundit and lawyer Hugh Hewitt, in which Hewitt--no bomb thrower--calls for the US Department of Justice to get involved.
Finally, the New York Times chose a somewhat more impressionistic approach, observing in a news article:
Following the pope’s lead, the Vatican has gone on lockdown.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, whom Archbishop Viganò also accused in the letter of covering up sexual misconduct by Cardinal McCarrick, rushed a reporter off the phone on Thursday evening.
“Look, I’m not in my office. Good evening. Good evening,” he said. And he was the most talkative.
The Times reached out to every cardinal and bishop said by Archbishop Viganò to have known about the alleged sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick by Benedict. More than a dozen of them declined or did not answer requests for comment.
It's satisfying, of course, to see gross injustices finally being addressed, but a broader perspective may also reveal the full dynamics of what's in play and the dangers that lie ahead. I preface these remarks by stipulating that in no way do I support any form of leniency toward the perpetrators. The full truth is the only way forward, nevertheless, government involvement, while probably necessary at this point, is a real tragedy.
I expect the calls for a law enforcement approach to increase in volume and would not be at all surprised to see the RICO (racketeering) statute applied. But here's the important point to keep in mind. While there are still some liberals decrying the anti-homosexualism of Viganò, his supporters, and the Church generally, and who are therefore instinctively opposed to supporting Viganò against Francis, I think liberals are gradually tumbling to the realization that this is definitely a crisis that they don't want to go to waste. I therefore expect the shift of approach that we're beginning to see in the progressive media will gain momentum.
Socially conservative Catholics, and especially white church-going Catholics in the Midwest, were key to Trump winning the 2016 election--it's not too much to say that this was the linchpin of Trump's entire strategy. That's a powerful reason for liberals, in spite of their support for the homosexual agenda, to consider aggressively targeting the "progressive" Francis papacy. The Church is still the Church. Popes come and go. The goal for the progressive media will be to try to separate cultural Catholics from the influence of Catholic doctrine by discrediting the entire hierarchy--not just "conservatives". To bring down a pope--could it possibly get any better than that for progressives?
The other goal is simply to destroy any moral authority the Catholic Church may still have in the broader conservative society--Catholic or not. To induce a sense of hopelessness among conservatives. These are long term projects, no doubt, but the current crisis offers an opening for progressives that may well override any other concerns. I think the more liberals consider their options the more confident they'll become that attacking the American bishops and even the Francis papacy can be done without empowering conservatives or endangering the homosexual agenda--and they'll push ahead.
And so, a final consideration. For all its warts the Church is one of the few truly significant social institutions that interposes between the State and the individual. Removing such "intermediary institutions"--so that each individual in his individuality is confronted with the full power of the State--is what totalitarianism is all about. One needn't accept the Church's claims to see where danger lies. We see the increasingly open totalitarianism of the Left everywhere today. The Church--or at least its hierarchs--has brought this crisis upon itself, but it's a crisis that in its broader dimension will draw in all conservatives. We will need to be aware that while malevolent forces have been at work within the Church, other malevolent forces will be seeking to take advantage of this crisis for goals that are inimical to our freedoms.
UPDATE: Per Rod Dreher at American Conservative, Bergoglio is praising "silence". I presume this self serving rant is meant to justify his own silence as well as to encourage the faithful to just shut up. Of course, as usual, he can't hold back from violent verbal assaults on all who would criticize him, even saying that they are "dogs" rather than "people":
"Today in Rome, Pope Francis gave a homily at mass in which he praised the virtue of silence. Excerpts from the news report:
Jesus himself showed that the best way to respond to scandal and divisiveness is to stay silent and pray, Pope Francis said Sept. 3 as he resumed his early morning Masses with invited guests.
“With people lacking good will, with people who seek only scandal, with those who look only for division, who want only destruction,” he said, the best response is “silence. And prayer.”
"According to a Vatican News report on the homily, Pope Francis said that it was with his silence that Jesus defeated the “wild dogs,” the devil, who “had sown lies in the hearts.”
“It wasn’t people, it was a pack of wild dogs that chased him out of the city,” the pope said. But Jesus is silent. “It is the dignity of Jesus. With his silence he defeats that wild pack and walks away because it was not yet his hour.’
“This teaches us that when there is this way of acting, of not seeing the truth, silence remains,” he said.
"How do you say “I am not a crook” in church Latin?"
Me: Non sum malificus?