The Papacy 2018 –

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The Canadian who helped craft Pope Francis’s statement on climate change will be our fourth cardinal
(CBC) Last weekend, Pope Francis named 13 new cardinals — who one day, upon the eventual death or resignation of Francis, will select a new pope.
One of them is Michael Czerny — a 73-year-old Czech-born Jesuit priest who was raised in Montreal. Once the appointment becomes official on Oct. 5, 2019, he will be the fourth Canadian cardinal.
For several years, Reverend Czerny has been one of Pope Francis’s lieutenants, serving as the Vatican’s Undersecretary of the Section for Migrants and Refugees.
He also was instrumental in the drafting of one of Francis’s most celebrated, controversial and debated public pronouncements — the papal encyclical called “Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home” in 2015.
The encyclical outraged hardline conservatives who wish the pope would just stick to the business of celebrating mass and condemning same-sex marriage, and it put climate activists and progressives in the unusual position of saying that we should do what the pope tells us to.

11 April
Ex-Pope Benedict contradicts Pope Francis in unusual intervention on sexual abuse
In his intervention, Benedict did not assess his own role in the crisis, during which he held power for decades, first behind the scenes and then for nearly eight years as pontiff. But the letter bears his hallmark: in particular, a conviction that Catholic teaching can show the way out of a crisis
(WaPo) “There is not one moment of recognition that the abuse crisis was also the result of a collective lapse of judgment by the entire church, including by the Vatican, for a long time,” said Massimo Faggioli, a Villanova University professor of theology.
Faggioli said Benedict “tells a tiny part and a very idiosyncratic version of the story without mentioning his role in the Vatican for almost four decades.”
“He speaks only a little about victims,” said Vito Mancuso, an author who has written books about Catholic theology and philosophy. “It’s almost an excuse for the one thing that he is truly interested in: the traditionalist restoration inside the church.”

4 April
Pope names first African-American to highest U.S. post
(Reuters) – Pope Francis named the first African-American to the Catholic Church’s most senior U.S. position on Thursday… Former Atlanta archbishop Wilton Gregory, 71, was made new head of the Church in the U.S. capital Washington, D.C., and is also likely to become a cardinal eligible to vote in a conclave to elect the next pope after Francis.
He would be the first African-American to hold the rank of cardinal too. The U.S. embassy to the Vatican noted that Gregory’s appointment coincided with the 51st anniversary of the assassination of black rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Gregory, who converted to Catholicism as a teenager, is considered a progressive who prefers dialogue and has largely shunned the U.S. Church’s often strident culture wars over issues such as abortion and homosexuality. , seeking to end a period of upheaval in a job whose previous two occupants were caught in sexual abuse scandals.

22 February
The Corruption of the Vatican’s Gay Elite Has Been Exposed
By Andrew Sullivan
This may seem like hyperbole, but in my view, the last drops of moral authority the Vatican might hope to have evaporate with this book. It is difficult to express the heartbroken rage so many of us in the pews now feel.
(New York) I spent much of this week reading and trying to absorb the new and devastating book by one Frédéric Martel on the gayness of the hierarchy at the top of the Catholic Church, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. It’s a bewildering and vast piece of reporting — Martel interviewed no fewer than “41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignori, 45 apostolic nuncios, secretaries of nunciatures or foreign ambassadors, 11 Swiss Guards and over 200 Catholic priests and seminarians.” He conducted more than 1,500 interviews over four years, is quite clear about his sources, and helps the reader weigh their credibility. He keeps the identity of many of the most egregiously hypocritical cardinals confidential, but is unsparing about the dead.
The picture Martel draws is jaw-dropping. Many of the Vatican gays — especially the most homophobic — treat their vows of celibacy with an insouciant contempt. Martel argues that many of these cardinals and officials have lively sex lives, operate within a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture, constantly hit on young men, hire prostitutes, throw chem-sex parties, and even pay for sex with church money. How do we know this? Because, astonishingly, they tell us.
As for me, someone who has wrestled with the question of homosexuality and Catholicism for much of my adult life, this book has, to be honest, been gutting. All the painful, wounding Vatican documents on my “objective disorder” that I have tried to parse and sincerely engage … I find out they were written, in part, by tormented gay men, partly to deflect from their own nature. Everything I was taught growing up — to respect the priests and hierarchs, to trust them, to accept their moral authority — is in tatters. To realize that the gay closet played a part in enabling the terrible, unimaginable abuse of the most vulnerable is a twist my psyche is having a hard time absorbing.

16 February
Ex-cardinal McCarrick defrocked by Vatican for sexual abuse
(WaPost) The Vatican on Saturday said it had defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, leveling a historic penalty against a onetime church power broker and former archbishop of Washington after the church found him guilty of sexual abuse.
It is the most significant abuse-related punishment given to a former cardinal in the modern history of the Roman Catholic Church.
The defrocking, which strips McCarrick of the rights of the priesthood, marks the conclusion of a closed-door Vatican proceeding and comes just days before Pope Francis plans to gather bishops from around the world for an unprecedented summit on abuse.

Frank Bruni: The Vatican’s Gay Overlords
A sensational new book mines the Catholic Church’s sexual secrets. Will right-wing homophobes exploit it?
Whatever Martel’s intent, “In the Closet of the Vatican” may be less a constructive reckoning than a stockpile of ammunition for militant right-wing Catholics who already itch to conduct a witch hunt for gay priests, many of whom are exemplary — and chaste — servants of the church. Those same Catholics oppose sensible and necessary reforms, and will point to the book’s revelations as proof that the church is already too permissive and has lost its dignity and its way.
Part of my concern about the book is the timing of its release, which coincides precisely with an unprecedented meeting at the Vatican about sexual abuse in the church. For the first time, the pope has summoned the presidents of every Catholic bishops conference around the world to discuss this topic alone. But the book “is also bound to shift attention away from child abuse and onto gay priests in general, once again falsely conflating in people’s minds homosexuality and pedophilia,” said the Rev. James Martin, a best-selling Jesuit author, in a recent tweet. He’s right.

6 February
Pope Francis’s visit was a touching display of unity and common purpose between two great faiths
This historic moment illustrated the core values of the UAE and sent a message of peace and brotherhood to the wider world
It was a sight to behold: Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s estimated one billion Roman Catholics, celebrating Mass in a stadium in Abu Dhabi. Please read that sentence again and reflect upon what it means.
It is easy to lose sight of the importance of what took place in the capital this week. Consider the repeated embraces between the pontiff and Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar – two great men, two great faiths, one enormously significant display of brotherly affection, understanding and respect. The declaration that they signed in Abu Dhabi enshrines this relationship and calls for a more peaceful world.

2018

Open letter to the US Catholic bishops: It’s over
(National Catholic Reporter) Dear brothers in Christ, shepherds, fellow pilgrims,
We address you as you approach this year’s national meeting in Baltimore because we know there is nowhere left to hide.
It’s over.
All the manipulations and contortions of the past 33 years, all the attempts to deflect and equivocate — all of it has brought the church, but especially you, to this moment.
As a class of religious rulers, the loudest among you have become quite good at applying the law and claiming divine authority in marginalizing those who transgress the statutes. The prolonged abuse scandal would suggest, however, that you’ve not done very well taking stock of yourselves.
We have no special insight into why this moment — the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the downfall of Theodore McCarrick — has so captured the public imagination and pushed the church to this outer limit of exposure and vulnerability. There are theories, not least of which is that the opportunists among us are attempting to use this moment to bring down the only pope who has actually dethroned bishops and a cardinal for their crimes and indiscretions. (9 November 2018)

16 November
Bishops continue to define response to sex abuse despite Vatican call for delay
(NCR) As the U.S. bishops’ meeting in Baltimore ends Nov. 15, the most newsworthy happening is still Monday’s last-minute instruction from the Vatican to delay any vote on new procedures to sanction or otherwise deal with bishops who had either abused children or failed to remove abusive priests from ministry.
From any vantage, the Vatican intervention was extremely disappointing. It contradicts everything Francis has said about empowering bishops’ conferences and decentralizing decision-making in the church. It was also a public-relations disaster for the pope, who is already losing the confidence of Catholics on the abuse issue, according to a September poll from the Pew Research Center: Only 31 percent of Catholics thought the pope was doing a good or excellent job handling the sex abuse scandal, down from 55 percent three years ago.
Though DiNardo didn’t release the Vatican’s letter, he and others explained that the Vatican worried that any procedures American bishops agreed on could pre-empt discussions at a meeting of the world’s top bishops called by the pope for February. If the American procedures for dealing with bad bishops became a de facto template for the rest of the world, the congregation also sees the proposed actions as an infringement on its authority, arguing the conference has no authority over bishops.
The day was saved by Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, who suggested that the bishops continue discussing the proposals and treat them as recommendations that DiNardo, as USCCB president, could take to the February meeting.

12 November
Bishops’ meeting bombshell: Vatican says no voting on abuse crisis
(NCR) The plenary meeting of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops opened with a bombshell. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the conference, announced that the Holy See had insisted the U.S. bishops not vote on any concrete action items regarding the clergy sex abuse crisis, pending the February meeting of the presidents of all episcopal conferences that Pope Francis has announced. DiNardo said he only learned last night of the Vatican’s decision.
People were whispering that the pope should not have intervened, certainly not at such a late date. Is this a case of Rome not grasping the situation in the U.S. or, more worrisome, that Rome still doesn’t grasp the enormity of the sex abuse mess? Obviously, the surprise evidenced by DiNardo shows the lack of healthy and regular communication between the leadership of the conference and the pope. Was Cupich trying to put lipstick on a pig? What is really at work here?
We do not know for sure. … But, the obvious place to start finding an answer came in the address delivered by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio, immediately following the announcement. He did something too few bishops and other commentators have done, or even sought to do, this year: He placed the sex abuse crisis in the broader ecclesiological context.

12 September
Pope Francis Summons World’s Bishops to Meet on Sexual Abuse
(NYT) Pope Francis summoned bishops from around the world to Rome for an unprecedented meeting focused on protecting minors. The order on Wednesday comes as the pope wrestles with a global clerical sexual abuse crisis and explosive accusations of a cover-up that have shaken his papacy and the entire Roman Catholic Church.
The extraordinary meeting marks the first time that presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide have been summoned for a meeting on a specific topic — more than 100 will be there — and the choice of topic was telling. Just last month, the Vatican’s former ambassador in the United States accused the pope of willfully ignoring a history of sexual misconduct by an American cardinal.
The pope called on the bishops’ conference presidents to gather from Feb. 21 to Feb. 24, the Vatican said.
“It’s a crucial decision by the pope because the conferences play a crucial role in implementing all the prevention measures to protect against sexual abuse in the church,” said Prof. Ernesto Caffo, a member of the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors.

27-30 August
Conservative media move to front line of battle to undermine Pope Francis
(Reuters) The full extent of journalists’ involvement in the statement – from conception and editing to translation and publication – emerges from a series of Reuters interviews that reveal a union of conservative clergy and media aimed at what papal defenders say is a campaign to weaken the reformist Francis’s pontificate.
Since his election in 2013, conservatives have sharply criticized Francis, saying he has left many faithful confused by pronouncements that the Church should be more welcoming to homosexuals and divorced Catholics and not be obsessed by “culture war” issues such as abortion.
Francis’ supporters say the statement contains holes and contradictions and note that Vigano prepared it with help from two journalists who have been critical of Francis, citing this as evidence that it forms part of an ideological anti-Francis strategy. The journalists deny this.

The Man Who Took On the Pope: The Story Behind the Viganò Letter
While Archbishop Viganò, who was once criticized by church traditionalists as overly pragmatic, has aligned himself with a small but influential group of church traditionalists who have spent years seeking to stop Francis, many of his critics think his personal grudges are central to his motivations.

The ‘coup’ against Pope Francis
(CNN)Even before Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano called for Pope Francis to resign on Sunday, the two men had a history, and it wasn’t good.
Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, angered some church officials in 2015 by arranging a meeting at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington between the Pope and Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to sign same-sex marriage certificates.
During his trip to the United States, the Pope had tried to stay above the country’s culture wars. Vigano foisted Francis right into the fray. The Vatican, which tried to distance the Pope from Davis, was displeased. Two years later, Francis quietly accepted Vigano’s resignation.
On Sunday, Vigano struck back.
Pope Francis, the Accusations and the Back Story

The Sex-Abuse Scandal Has Come for Pope Francis
A letter calling for his resignation shows how serious his crisis of credibility has become.
(The Atlantic) Pope Francis’s credibility has taken a major hit as the crisis over clergy sex abuse continues to roil the Catholic Church. Following weeks of horrifying revelations about the Church’s long-standing mismanagement of allegations against priests, the pope visited Ireland this weekend, asking forgiveness for a long list of “abuses” and “exploitation.” Reporters observed that crowds were nowhere near as large for Francis as they were for John Paul II, the last pope to visit Ireland. Protesters also called for more extensive apologies.

24 August
New Catholic sex abuse allegations show how long justice can take in a 16-year scandal
Almost two decades after the Boston Globe’s reporting, secrecy and bureaucracy have delayed justice.
(Vox) The Catholic Church found itself at the heart of one of its most serious crises yet when a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report last week, detailing the extent of child sex abuse allegations by Catholic priests in six of the state’s eight dioceses. The report estimated more than 300 priests across the state abused at least 1,000 known victims, and it condemned the wider clerical culture that allowed senior priests to turn a blind eye to the abuses, often quietly shuffling offending priests into new dioceses, where they would have unfettered access to new victims.
The allegations pointed to a systemic culture of secrecy in the Catholic Church, and implicated a number of church officials — including Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC — in the cover-up.

22 August
Catholics Are Desperate for Tangible Reforms on Clergy Sex Abuse
Pope Francis says he supports a “zero-tolerance” policy, but some insist those words are not enough.
This week, Pope Francis convenes the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, a massive, triennial gathering of Catholics to celebrate “joy for the world.” The timing could not be more awkward. The event comes in the wake of a terrible period for Catholic families amid revelations about clergy sex abuse, including the release of a massive new report detailing years of misconduct and cover-up in Pennsylvania.
These new findings are the latest entry in a long list of scandals from around the world: reports that Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal in Washington, D.C., sexually harassed children and adults for decades; the mass resignation of Chilean bishops who mishandled sex-abuse allegations in their country; Cardinal George Pell’s return from Rome to his home in Australia, where he is standing trial on several charges of sexual abuse.
A decade and a half after the first major wave of sex-abuse scandals upended the global Church, clergy, theologians, and lay people are desperately calling on the Church to take concrete steps to prevent abuse or cover-ups from happening again. Some say the greatest problem lies in the hierarchical structure of the Church, and are advocating for more power for lay people and an overhauled seminary system.
In an unusually forthright letter “to the People of God” on Monday, Pope Francis himself seemed to agree that the Church’s structure presents a real problem. After calling for “a culture of care that says ‘never again’ to every form of abuse,” he identified what he sees as the major cause of the sex-abuse crisis: clericalism. It’s what you might call the “old-boys’ club” of the Church hierarchy—a system that gives the clergy immense influence over the laity, that exalts them with pomp and pageantry, and that some say has enabled many priests to abuse their power without accountability for too long.
“Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons … supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today,” Pope Francis wrote. “To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism.”
It’s a strong statement from a pope who has been denouncing clericalism for years. But some Catholics argue that this is not enough: New, concrete steps are now needed to reform the Church, an institution with an embedded culture of secrecy that won’t dismantle itself. For many years, the Church failed to report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement, preferring instead to handle matters internally by shifting accused priests to different dioceses or having them quietly treated at psychiatric clinics, for example. Some Catholic leaders are concerned that the pope’s letter—and the Church itself—lack specific recommendations for preventing this from happening again.

15 August
Scathing report reveals 300 Pennsylvania Catholic priests sexually abused over 1,000 children
The report is a watershed moment in the Catholic child sex abuse crisis

29 July
A Catholic cardinal has weathered sex abuse allegations for years. Now they’re finally public.
Theodore McCarrick has resigned from the College of Cardinals after allegations of abusing both children and adults.
(Vox)  … this week, a former papal nuncio (a position similar to that of an ambassador) has accused Pope Francis of covering up McCarrick’s misdeeds. In an open letter published on a number of Catholic websites, Carlo Viganò, a longtime enemy of Francis’s, wrote that Francis had personally lifted sanctions against McCarrick imposed by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Viganò has since called for McCarrick’s resignation.

19 January
Pope’s Defense of Chilean Bishop in Sex Abuse Scandal Causes Outrage
(NYT) A number of Chilean Catholics reacted with disappointment and anger on Friday, a day after Pope Francis spoke in defense of a bishop who they say protected a pedophile priest. The remarks, made on Thursday just before Francis left Chile for Peru, upended his efforts to rehabilitate the Catholic Church’s reputation while visiting South America.

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