The scheduled meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops started off with a sniper attack from the Vatican. As you may have read, the Vatican insisted the US Bishops NOT vote on their proposals to deal with Bishop Accountability and the Investigation of the McCarrick Affair. Some have said that the Vatican pulled the rug out from under the Bishops. But that is way too kind. The Vatican bureaucratically castrated the US Bishops, at least those who still had some. And amazingly it seemed like many Bishops were ready to plow full steam ahead until the Vatican pulled a trump card. But was it really?
The US Bishops, or any country’s Bishops Conference does have its own jurisdiction and the right to make particular law. Obviously, an individual Bishop’s Conference can’t make universal law. But the Vatican insisted it wanted to wait until the February meeting of all the world’s head of Bishop’s Conferences to deal with the issue of clerical sexual abuse in a uniform way. But if the Vatican was concerned that what the US Bishops were legislating would conflict with universal norms or law they could easily have sent the Vatican’s top Canon Lawyers to advise the Bishops and make sure there would be no conflict or after the February Meeting they could always amend what the US enacted. What’s even more cynical is that the Vatican waited until Sunday afternoon to let Cardinal DiNardo, the USCCB President know of this directive.
Strange how in 2002 when the US Bishops legislated the Dallas Charter which deals with priests who abuse, the Vatican went right along and even was amenable to changes in the Code of Canon Law based on what the US Bishops had done. But when it came to the accountability of Bishops the Vatican clearly put the brakes on. At least now we know that the source of corruption is the Vatican officials. It seems like they have a lot to hide when it comes to protecting the malfeasance of Bishops and the appointment of McCarrick’s partners in crime who are currently Bishops of Dioceses.
Interestingly, the directive to halt the vote came from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. Both Cardinal Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Wuerl of Washington, DC are members of that Congregation. It would appear they got the Congregation to employ this preemptive strategy. Both of them have a lot to lose if the Vigano accusations prove correct. Brilliant move on their part. Apparently both Cardinals are steeped in the Chicago/DC way of doing things.
What this does is to give those Bishops who have jelly-spines cover. How convenient to do nothing by claiming, ‘we have to be obedient to the Pope’. Well we should remind them that the Bishops are equal with the Pope in the episcopal ministry. While the Pope is first among equals, the rest of the Bishops still have their own authority and jurisdiction. They are not lacky’s of a Pope. The Letter to the Galatians clearly demonstrates that fact. The Apostle Paul, tells us in Galatians that, “he opposed Peter to his face when he was clearly in the wrong”. Paul was not challenging Peter’s authority as leader of the Church but was opposing the way in which Peter was exercising that authority, treating Gentiles and Jews differently. The US Bishops need to follow Paul’s example and challenge the Vatican and the cartel that runs it by challenging the way they exercise their authority in a way that protects them and not those who are most vulnerable. The irony here is that the Pope is blaming clericalism for the problem while at the same time his staff is acting in a most clerical way, alla Cardinal Richelieu, afraid that if the US Bishops appoint lay boards to unravel this mess they lose their power.
What’s happening here is that the Vatican wants to keep the focus on clerical sexual abuse, an issue that we have dealt with in the US and have all the right policies and procedures in place to handle accusations and remove perpetrators from the priesthood. What the Vatican does not want to deal with is the Bishops who continue to conceal the homosexual network that thrives in the Church and is responsible for 80% of the abuse cases and the abuse of seminarians and other young adults. Maintaining “bella figura” and not confronting buggery appears to be their goal.
I have great affection for our Bishop, he is not corrupt, doesn't live a double life, doesn't coddle abusers, doesn't tolerate immorality in the priesthood and lives a personal life of great simplicity but I do pray he has courage to stand up against the emasculating actions of the Vatican.
Where do we go from here? I’m considering what actions we should take next. But for now, we will remain local. We will be providing Thanksgiving Food boxes to needy families in our area, we will hold our Adopt-a-Family Program for Christmas and we will start to spiritually prepare for the Birth of our Savior at Christmas. In other words, we will be faithful Christians because that is who we are.
Fr. John B.