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Ahead of abuse summit, lay people assemble in silent protest in Rome

Demonstrators object to what they see as the limited scope of the Vatican meeting.

Lay people demonstrate in St. Sylvester Square in Rome, February 19. (Screenshot via Edward Pentin, twitter.com/EdwardPentin)

Taxi drivers looked around to see what the matter was when anti-riot police units in full gear appeared on three corners of Rome’s busy St. Sylvester Square on Tuesday. It took a few minutes for them to make out the formation of immobile, standing figures that had appeared, flash-mob style, from among the passers-by, because instead of breaking into song and dance, or loudspeaker declamations, they broke into silence.

Called “In Silence to Break Down the Wall of Silence,” the demonstration was organized to urge the bishops attending the Vatican’s summit on the problem of child abuse in the Church, which opens on Thursday, not to limit the discussion to pedophilia, but to speak up about all the moral issues at stake, and especially about “the scourge of homosexuality.”

As explained by fliers given out while the demonstrators stood silently praying the Rosary and meditating on religious texts, the participants were lay Catholics who had come from various parts of the world to urge “the silent bishops” to “dare to speak the truth to the Holy Father.”

“If the summit limits itself to addressing only the abuse of minors, as its title would seem to indicate, it is bound to be a failure,” said Professor Roberto de Mattei, president of the Lepanto Foundation. “To limit the scandal to pedophilia alone, while ignoring the scourge of homosexuality, would be hypocritical, because homosexuality is not only a vice contrary to human nature, it also represents the basis of a power structure within the Church.”

On a similar note, Jean Pierre Maugendre of Renaissance Catholique, France, complained that “while 80 percent of the recently reported acts of pedophilia are of a homosexual nature, a deafening silence accompanies the observation of this reality.”

Julio Loredo of Tradiciòn y Acciòn por un Perù Mayor contested the notion that the solution might lie in abolishing celibacy, saying rather that the end goal should be the education of seminarians to “emotional maturity,” as urged by Pope St. John Paul II in the apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America.

Arkadiusz Stelmach of the Piotr Skarga Institute of Poland said that a new form of “neo-communism” has infiltrated the Church, wreaking unprecedented devastation and leading to declines in religious practices and in vocations and to the promotion of immorality, homosexuality, and gender ideology.

Scott Schittl of LifeSiteNews quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict as saying that silence about the Church’s teaching regarding the spiritual harm of homosexual acts presents a false charity which is “neither caring nor pastoral,” since “life is all about deciding where we will spend eternity—in heaven or hell.”

Michael Matt of The Remnant took issue with Pope Francis’ citing of “clericalism” as the problem to be solved, because “in its essence this seems designed to avoid addressing the root cause of the crisis, which is homosexuality in the priesthood.”

Matt noted that there would seem to be clericalism at the highest levels as well. “Certainly, in one sense, ‘clericalism’ appears to be that in which the Vatican itself is engaging when, in the face of this crisis even the Pope himself is using his power as head of the Church to discredit Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who at this moment is in hiding and whose relevant testimony will not be granted a hearing at this summit meeting.”

Archbishop Viganò’s testimonies were cited by many at this demonstration, as was ex-Cardinal McCarrick, one of the “key ecclesial figures personally involved in abuse and cover-up to have been rehabilitated and even promoted by Pope Francis in the past.” Also mentioned in this context was Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who, Matt recalled, “was caught on tape attempting to cover up years of abuse [by another bishop] and who yet nonetheless appeared on the loggia when Francis was selected to become the next pope, and was later chosen by the pope to attend the Synod on the Family.”

Another demonstrator specifically critical of Pope Francis was Britain’s John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, who accused the Pontiff of willful tactics to distract attention from the Vatican’s sex education agenda which, he said, is corrupting young people.

The Vatican’s summit meeting with heads of the world’s episcopal conferences will be held February 21-24.


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About Alessandra Nucci 27 Articles
Alessandra Nucci is an Italian author and journalist.

1 Comment

  1. With all due respect, the headline should have read “Lay Leaders of Traditional Organizations Speak Out Against Synod”. I am not opposed to such a piece, but this was hardly a simple group of lay people coming out to be heard which would have been very encouraging also.

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