A can­cer on the pa­pacy?

Ripon Bulletin - - Opinion - PAT BUCHANAN Founder and edi­tor of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive

This sum­mer, the sex scan­dal that has be­dev­iled the Catholic Church went crit­i­cal. First came the stun­ning rev­e­la­tion that Car­di­nal Theodore McCar­rick, former Arch­bishop of Washington and friend to pres­i­dents, had for decades been a preda­tor-priest who preyed on sem­i­nar­i­ans and abused al­tar boys, and whose de­prav­ity was widely known and cov­ered up.

Came then the re­port of a Penn­syl­va­nia grand jury that in­ves­ti­gated six dio­ce­ses and found that some 300 priests had abused 1,000 chil­dren over the last 70 years.

The bishop of Pitts­burgh, Don­ald Wuerl, now Car­di­nal Arch­bishop of Washington, de­frocked some of these cor­rupt priests, but re­as­signed oth­ers to new parishes where new out­rages were com­mit­ted.

This week­end brought the most stun­ning ac­cu­sa­tion.

Arch­bishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Vat­i­can en­voy to the United States un­der Pope Bene­dict XVI, charged that Pope Fran­cis had been told of McCar­rick’s abuses, done noth­ing to sanc­tion him, and that, as “zero tol­er­ance” of sex­ual abuse is Fran­cis’ own pol­icy, the pope should re­sign.

In his 11-page let­ter of ac­cu­sa­tions, Vigano fur­ther charged that there is a pow­er­ful “ho­mo­sex­ual cur­rent” among the Vat­i­can prelates clos­est to the pope.

What did the pope know and when did he know it?

Not un­like Water­gate, the is­sue here is whether Pope Fran­cis knew what was go­ing on in the Vat­i­can and in his

Church, and why he was not more res­o­lute in root­ing out the moral squalor.

Or­tho­dox, con­ser­va­tive and tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholics are the most vis­i­ble and vo­cal de­mand­ing an ac­count­ing. Pro­gres­sive and lib­eral Catholics, to whom Pope Fran­cis and Car­di­nal McCar­rick were seen as al­lies on is­sues of sex­ual moral­ity, have been thrown on the de­fen­sive.

Now, ac­cu­sa­tions alone are nei­ther proof nor ev­i­dence.

Yet there is an obli­ga­tion, an im­per­a­tive, given the grav­ity of the rev­e­la­tions, that the Vat­i­can ad­dress the charges. When did Pope Fran­cis be­come aware of McCar­rick’s con­duct, which ap­pears to have been widely known? Did

he let his close friend­ship with McCar­rick keep him from do­ing his pa­pal and pas­toral duty?

This de­struc­tive scan­dal has been bleed­ing for decades. Too long. The Church is run­ning out of time. It needs to act de­ci­sively now.

Priests who prey on parochial school chil­dren and al­tar boys are not only sin­ners, they are crim­i­nal preda­tors who be­long in pen­i­ten­tiary cells not par­ish rec­to­ries. They ought to be handed over to civil au­thor­i­ties.

While none of us is with­out sin, sex­u­ally ac­tive and abu­sive clergy should be sev­ered from the priest­hood. There needs to be a purge at the Vat­i­can, re­mov­ing or re­tir­ing bish­ops, arch­bish­ops and car­di­nals, the rev­e­la­tion of whose past mis­con­duct would fur­ther feed this scan­dal.

For too long, the Catholic faith­ful have been forced to pay dam­ages and repa­ra­tions for crimes and sins of preda­tor priests and the hi­er­ar­chy’s col­lu­sion and com­plic­ity in cov­er­ing them up.

And it needs be stated clearly: This is a ho­mo­sex­ual scan­dal.

Al­most all of the preda­tors and crim­i­nals are male, as are most of the vic­tims: the boys, the teenagers, the young sem­i­nar­i­ans.

Ap­pli­cants to the sem­i­nary should be vet­ted the way ap­pli­cants to the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil are. Those ho­mo­sex­u­ally in­clined should be told the priest­hood of the Church is not for them, as it is not for women.

Sec­u­lar so­ci­ety will call this in­vid­i­ous dis­crim­i­na­tion, but it is based on what Christ taught and how he es­tab­lished his Church.

In­evitably, if the church is to re­main true to her­self, the clash with sec­u­lar so­ci­ety, which now holds that ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is nat­u­ral and nor­mal and en­ti­tled to re­spect, is go­ing to widen and deepen.

For in tra­di­tional Catholic teach­ing, ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is a psy­cho­log­i­cal and moral dis­or­der, a pro­cliv­ity to­ward acts that are in­trin­si­cally wrong, and ev­ery­where and al­ways sin­ful and de­praved, and ruinous of char­ac­ter.

The idea of ho­mo­sex­ual mar­riages, re­cently dis­cov­ered to be a con­sti­tu­tional right in the USA, re­mains an ab­sur­dity in Catholic doc­trine.

If the Church’s high­est pri­or­ity is to co­ex­ist peace­fully with the world, it will mod­ify, soften, cease to preach, or re­pu­di­ate these be­liefs, and fol­low the prim­rose path of so many of our sep­a­rated Protes­tant brethren.

But if she does, it will not be the same Church that over cen­turies ac­cepted mar­tyr­dom to re­main the faith­ful cus­to­dian of Gospel truths and sa­cred tra­di­tion.

And how has the em­brace of moder­nity and its val­ues ad­vanced the re­li­gious faiths whose lead­ers sought most earnestly to ac­com­mo­date them?

The Church is go­ing through per­haps its gravest cri­sis since the Re­for­ma­tion. Since Vat­i­can II, the faith­ful have been de­part­ing, some leav­ing qui­etly, oth­ers em­brac­ing ag­nos­ti­cism or other faiths.

“Who am I to judge?” said the pope when first pressed about the moral­ity of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

Un­de­ni­ably, Fran­cis, and the pro­gres­sive bish­ops who urge a new tol­er­ance, a new un­der­stand­ing, a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the be­nign char­ac­ter of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, have won the plau­dits of a sec­u­lar press that loathed the Church of Pius XII.

Of what value all those won­der­ful press clip­pings now, as the chick­ens come home to roost in Vat­i­can City?

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