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The Vatican obfuscates even while preparing for February meeting on abuse

One would have to be blind not to see the infiltration of clerical ranks — even in the episcopate, even in the Roman Curia — by active homosexuals for whom their collars are little more than cover.

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The Vatican finally announced the members of the organizing committee responsible for preparing the meeting of the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences this coming February 21-24. Most of the early reaction and attention has been on the membership of the organizing committee: Cardinal Blase “The Pope has a bigger agenda” Cupich of Chicago is a conspicuous presence, while Cardinal Seán O’Malley OFM Cap, the President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults, is rather conspicuous by his absence.

Cupich is a known Papal favorite, and at the center of controversy over the recent spiking of the US bishops’ proposals, which were supposed to get a vote at the recent plenary meeting in Baltimore.

O’Malley is a member of the C9 Council of Cardinal-Advisers, in addition to his role as President of the Commission for the Protection of Minors. He has criticized Pope Francis publicly for his treatment of abuse victims in Chile, and faced criticism for his inept handling of a letter detailing some of the strange proclivities of the depraved and now disgraced former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore Edgar “Uncle Ted” McCarrick.

A statement from Cardinal O’Malley issued early Friday afternoon in Boston essentially takes credit for the idea of holding the meeting, and made clear that he will, in some capacity, be taking part:

The proposal for such a meeting was developed by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was reviewed by the Council of Cardinals and subsequently accepted by the Holy Father. I am pleased that this meeting has been convoked by the Holy Father and I look forward to participating.

It requires no stretch of the imagination to believe the idea for the February meeting did not originate with Pope Francis. The wording of the February meeting’s announcement made it sound to this Vatican Watcher as though the C9 — facing serious troubles of its own — had to twist the Pope’s arm to get him to do anything at all.

The inclusion of Cupich is theater, but the real story is elsewhere: in the stated purpose of the meeting, and in the talking points Fr. Hans Zöllner hit in his interview with official Vatican media outlets, which was released in concert with the announcement from the Press Office of the Holy See on Friday.

“As the Holy Father wrote in the letter to the People of God,” Fr. Zöllner told Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano:

[W]e feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite. With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.

Neither the Vatican, nor the world’s bishops, simply found themselves someplace else. The problem is not that the Vatican or the world’s bishops “did not act in a timely manner,” nor is it that they failed to realize “the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.” Bishops — and evidence suggests Popes among the bishops — were not merely slow to cotton to the magnitude and gravity of the damage done. They were complicit in it.

What’s more, the theme of the meeting is “the protection of minors in the Church” — a worthy cause and a needful thing — but what we most need from bishops is accountability, transparency, and readiness to foster a sane moral culture among the clergy, high and low. The whole reason we are in this unholy mess in the first place is that the bishops have proven themselves incapable of any of that.

There are also the promises and assurances, repeated ad nauseam — this time by Fr. Zöllner in the aforementioned interview with Vatican media — that the Pope is really serious about this:

The Holy See reiterated this clearly: “Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for Bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable.”

If that is so, why did Pope Francis rehabilitate Cardinal Danneels? For that matter, why is Cardinal Ezzati still in his See? Or Bishop Malone in his?

Francis’s handling of the lavender Mafia within the Vatican also begs to differ. One would have to be blind not to see the infiltration of clerical ranks — even in the episcopate, even in the Roman Curia — by active homosexuals for whom their collars are little more than cover. Such men are not abusers of children, in the main, though they do lead disorderly lives, and they do use their position within the clergy to fund their depraved purposes, shield their perverse proclivities, and recruit men into their nefarious ranks.

The Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, admitted as much in his reply to the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano:

[T]he fact that there may be persons in the Vatican who practice and support behavior contrary to Gospel values regarding sexuality, does not authorize us to generalize and declare this or that person as unworthy and as accomplices, even including the Holy Father himself. Should not the ministers of truth be the first to avoid calumny and defamation themselves?

Ministers of truth ought to be the first to avoid calumny and defamation. Truth, however, is a defense against slander. (So, why not try Viganò?) The accusations Archbishop Viganò leveled against the character and proclivities of men in the Curia may be misplaced. If they are, then true and genuine solicitude for their good names should compel the Holy See to vindicate them with more than a nasty letter from an underling.

In any case, Cardinal Ouellet’s riposte still not only concedes the broad point about the presence of a so-called “lavender Mafia” inside the Curia, but also demonstrates a rather cavalier attitude toward it and its members — as if it were no concern of the Vatican unless the hapless official in question gets himself convicted of a go-to-jail felony. In the case of Msgr. Pietro Amenta — erstwhile judge on the Roman Rota — that’s what it took, and even then, he was allowed to resign shortly before copping a plea to escape jail time.

“Give him time,” urged Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, referring to Pope Francis, when asked on the sidelines of the October synod what the faithful ought to do in the face of burgeoning crisis and apparent paralysis at the highest echelons of Church governance. Francis has given himself until February.

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About Christopher R. Altieri 245 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, editor and author of three books, including Reading the News Without Losing Your Faith (Catholic Truth Society, 2021). He is contributing editor to Catholic World Report.


  1. This gets more disgusting each day that passes! Putting Cupich in charge of ANY meeting to get to the bottom of this disgraceful problem is like putting the fox in charge of the chicken house! We as lay people must make our feelings known! Shame on all those that are a part of this homo-heresy. How can they put on their vestments? Bishop Barron, Bishop Strickland, Bishop Morlino, Fr Mark Goring, please help us! Join together and help us!

  2. Altieri writes that “Francis has given himself until February”. Maybe “time (really) is greater than space…” Maybe God writes with crooked lines. Maybe the Holy Spirit will intervene in some concrete way…

    (1) Maybe the (scripted?) four-day event in February will be extended?
    (2) Maybe a progress report will be announced for the (disappearing?) canonical trial of ex-cardinal McCarrick?
    (3) Maybe the broadened need of the February gathering will not remain (evasively?) narrowed to only the “abuse of children and young people”?
    (4) Maybe the proceedings ghost-writers will at least footnote the relevant 300-page dossier prepared for Pope Benedict and handed off to Pope Francis?
    (5) Maybe the beast will be called by its real name (?), which is not “clericalism.”

    St. Augustine had something to say about our appetite for such word games. He wrote: “But to return to the word ‘lust’. As lust for revenge is called anger, so lust for money is avarice, lust to win at any price is obstinacy, lust for bragging is vanity. And there are still many other kinds of lust, some with names and some without. For example, it would be difficult to find a specific name for that lust for domination which plays such havoc with the souls of the ambitious soldiers and comes to light in every civil war” (Book XIV, Ch. 15).

    As for the “ambitious… in every civil war”—what about the “lust for domination” in the civil war now so close to dividing in the Church? Maybe the arms’ length term “clericalism” is useful, something like asbestos gloves. BUT clericalism is only one symptom; it is not the real thing. The lofty infiltration exposed (so to speak) by the McCarrick Malignancy is what it is.

  3. Cupich is one of the most arrogant, immoral, and heterodox Bishops in the world, who clearly uses his position for the sole purpose of elevating himself to greater positions of power, authority and esteem in the secular world, rather than preaching the Gospel and saving souls.

    He also treats the laity of the Catholic Church with the utmost contempt.

  4. I’m surprised Bergoglio didn’t put Uncle Ted on the organizing committee. After all, he knows the depths of the problem experientially. Surely sufficient time has elapsed and now is the time for mercy. It must be the time for mercy since no canonical trial has commenced regarding the transgressions of the perpetrator…
    Do they honestly believe that in our fractured — nay, shattered Church — those in any camp hold the Bergoglian crew of episcopal keystone cops to have any credence at all? The show is over. The audience has left. You are entertaining only yourselves. It is pitiful.

  5. So long as many of these prelates refuse to insist upon calling these actions mortal sins and to take seriously what the Mother of God has told us regarding the gravity of all sexual sins, I cannot take them very seriously as a group. As many have noted, the horrendous abuse of minors and the cover up is but one aspect of the problem. The practice of homosexuality by priests is part of the same problem. All followers of Jesus Christ are called to chastity, period: bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity. Can we do this? Not on our own. We can only do this with sanctifying grace and we do not get sanctifying grace when we are in mortal sin. Most people are on the road to hell because of our sins of the flesh. Bishops and priests should bear in mind that they will have stand before God to explain why they did not warn those to whom Jesus has committed to their spiritual care. I am grateful that God did not give me the burden of priesthood in this wickedly pagan society. We need to pray for all bishops and priest.

    • so receiving the sacrament of confession over and over again and then sinning immorally again and going back to confession and not showing a sincere and heartfelt sorrow for ones sin is a sin in itself not raising ones soul with christ is a sacriledge enough already

  6. A point of clarification. Truth is a defense against a charge of defamation in American jurisprudence. It is not a defense in English jurisprudence or in canon law.

    • Truth “is not a defense in English jurisprudence or in canon law?” How bizarre that telling the truth can be considered defamation.

  7. In the good ole days of the USSR, the Communist Party would place a political officer in each military unit in order to guarantee the loyalty of the troops and their commanding officers to the Communist Party The maintenance of Communist Party’s power over a coercive regime was of paramount concern. The good of the proletariat was only theoretical. Guess what Cupich’s appointment represents! [HINT: Instead of red, their favorite color is lavender.]

  8. Pope XI to Edmund Walsh SJ:

    “Tell me, Father Walsh, “who have been the worst persecutors of the Church, tell me?” Father Walsh knew the Pope wanted to answer his own question, so he didn’t answer. The Pope said, “The Church’s worst persecutors have been her own unfaithful bishops, priests and religious.” He went on, “Opposition from the outside is terrible; it gives us many martyrs. But the Church’s worst enemy is her own traitors.”

    • Source of your quote?
      In 1960, the priest who pulled me into the Church told me the best proof of Her divinity’s was that Her leaders had not been able to destroy the Church for 2000 years. And they will not be able to do so now!
      Pray for Her.

  9. Cardinal Cupich appears to be a leading apologist, along with Cardinal Tobin and Father Martin, for the homosexual lifestyle both in society and in the Church.

    His selection to head this conference means that the outcome is pre-ordained. Active clerical homosexuals will be protected and all the blame will be assigned elsewhere.

  10. What no one seems to get is the Vatican has always been a place of shady deals, intrigue and careerism. The papacy we have today is not the papacy of Peter, Linus,Gregory or Leo.
    The Vatican has always been slightly corrupt, saints or even just good men did not always act as as faithful vicars of Peter. The Vatican has been,always will be a place where holiness and filth mix. Put your faith in Christ and true religion, in the Scriptures and Tradition. Pray for those who are the Church as something to be used and get on with life. Christ is victorious!

  11. After reading all of this and the comments I have to wonder did anyone listen to what Pope Francis has said recently? He is calling for all priests and religious guilty of sexual abuse of minors to turn themselves into the authorities and accept the punishment they deserve as well as prepare themselves for the spiritual punishment they will receive. He also acknowledged that Homosexuality in the clergy and seminaries is largely responsible for the incidents of sexual abuse. It seems to me that the writer of the article and many of those commenting have an axe to grind with Pope Francis and are ignoring what he is saying and already predicting a failed meting in February before it actually takes place.

    • The concern of many Catholics, including myself, is that Francis talks a good talk, but it’s the same ol’ talk he’s been giving since 2013–and he has mostly failed, in my estimation, in addressing both causes (homosexuality, related matters) and key culprits (McCarrick, others). So, for a pithy example of the repetitive talk, see this recent post by Christopher Altieri.

      “He also acknowledged that Homosexuality in the clergy and seminaries is largely responsible for the incidents of sexual abuse.” When? Where? He did make comments about seminarians and homosexuality, but I’ve never seen him connect homosexuality with the sexual abuse crisis.

      “…already predicting a failed meting in February before it actually takes place.” Alas, it’s fairly easy to predict, if the past 5-6 years are any indication.

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