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“Where does this leave us?”

It is not easy to credit the claims of shock from senior Churchmen in France or the Vatican at the latest round of disclosures about abuse.

(Image: Simon Hurry/

“Where does this leave us?” That was the question a friend put to me during the week, after news broke of another powerful cardinal in trouble for misbehaving with minors.

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, emeritus of Bordeaux, has confessed to “reprehensible behavior” with a fourteen-year-old girl. Churchmen in France and the Vatican have expressed their “shock” at the development. French ecclesiastical authorities are cooperating with secular prosecutors and the Vatican – on Friday – announced that it has disposed a preliminary investigation of its own.

Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told the Associated Press that the Vatican has opened the preliminary investigation in order “to complete the examination of what happened, given the elements that have emerged in recent days and the declaration given by the cardinal.”


Well, not fine – there’s lots to say about all that – but in order to answer my friend’s question, a rehearsal of another set of facts is in order.

John Paul II consecrated Jean-Pierre Ricard a bishop in 1993, when that pope was still physically strong and in effective control of the Church. JPII then named Ricard to Bordeaux in 2001 – the same year Theodore Edgar “Uncle Ted” McCarrick came into the See of Washington, DC – and made Ricard a Member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Benedict XVI confirmed Ricard’s membership in 2005, and created him Cardinal Ricard in 2006.

It’s tough to say exactly how much of a difference that made to the investigation and trial of abuse and coverup cases over the years. I put questions to folks in the Vatican – including the press office – regarding Cardinal Ricard’s judicial role in CDF and how many abuse or coverup cases he may have helped judge. I also wrote to the Archdiocese of Bordeaux to ask how many such and similar cases he handled as archbishop there.

I’m not holding my breath for an answer from either quarter.

In 2014, Pope Francis created a special judicial college inside the CDF (as it was then styled) to judge delicta graviora – the most grave crimes, including but not limited to sex crimes – and verdicts have largely come from that quarter. Just exactly who sits on that panel, which cases they judge, what verdicts they hand down, and what penalties are imposed, is all unclear.

All that that hints at a big part of the problem: Transparency.

It is not easy to credit the claims of shock from senior Churchmen in France or the Vatican at the latest round of disclosures, which include nearly a dozen French bishops credibly accused of abuse or coverup, and come on the heels of other gruesome revelations that include – but are not limited to – a French bishop allowed to retire quietly “for health reasons” even though he was credibly accused of spiritual abuse, as well as a Nobel peace laureate who quietly retired in the late 1990s and is now known to have several credible sexual abuse charges against him.

Cardinal Ricard’s victim twice wrote to Pope Francis – the first time five years ago – but never received a reply.

It is impossible to accept that the Vatican is taking the crisis seriously, given the constant talk and grand gesturing that to date have not produced any significant increase in the staffing or budget of the office tasked with investigating and processing sex crimes the world, over. At last count, there were fewer than two dozen people staffing the disciplinary section of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, not all of them working full-time. There are rural public prosecutor’s offices with more staffing and bigger budgets.

As the appalling, infuriating story of Cardinal Ricard makes abundantly clear, Pope Francis did not on his own create the leadership crisis in the Church. Francis by himself did not even create this episode in it. Nevertheless, Francis is pope now. Francis has been the author of many paper reforms. A mere list of Francis’s glaring failures to apply and enforce the very reform laws he has made, however, would run to significantly more length than is available in this column space.

One may be forgiven the impression that the most honest and sincere statement of the Vatican’s mind when it comes to this awful business has come from Cardinal Peter Turkson. In 2019, Turkson criticized Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for a 2012 apology to abuse victims during the International Eucharistic Congress, which Martin’s Dublin archdiocese was then hosting.

“I thought it was too much,” Cardinal Turkson said. “I thought he was making this huge cloud hang over everything.” Turkson said that he understands the pain victims feel. “Now,” however, “we need to find a way of exiting this experience,” he also said. “Otherwise, it will suffocate us.”

So, where does this leave us?

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About Christopher R. Altieri 198 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. Christopher, this leaves us exactly where planned. The objective to the Sankt Gallen Mafia End Game is destitution of Catholicism.

    It was announced and published by Pope Leo XIII. The objectives of the infiltrates were never in any doubt. Every Pope save about 3 denounced this known plot from 1717 to 1958.

    Three possibilities are open:

    1) Church self-cleans via violent voluntary disclosure. The Publication of the Gagnon Report on the freemasonic infiltration, including Baggio naming all the bishops from the 1950s onwards. Then an obligation for all prelates to disclose their freemasonic appartenances, and be accordingly reduced to the lay state. If 80% of some bishops conferences leave thus, where is the problem?
    A correlation between abuse protectoriat and Masonic Appartenance will clearly exhonerate the remaining Catholics within the institution and allow the institution to recover.

    Unfortunately, Self-disclosure of infiltration is not part of the End Game. The Church has had since the 1980s USA Archdiocese explosed… 40 years tells us that the Masonic Eclipse is so bad, there are not enough Catholics in the hierarchy to act. When it is McCarrick and his descendancy which run the PR ‘abuse summits’… we have a clear indication of a blockage in the waste-pipe.

    So what alternatives to self disclosure are there?

    2) International Tribunal at the Hague along the post-war lines;

    3) Divine Intervention.

    It is curious that the Roman Curia appear determined to hold out for options 2 and 3… which IS pethaps part of The Sankt Gallen Programme ? A journalist needs to awk the only man in Rome who publicly claims to be following the programme for a report on the extent of laicizing annually, the number of internal reports spontaneously handed over to civil aurhorities in the countried concerned. Normal questions you would expect asking in view of the gravity of the Rainbow Smokescreens blowing from the German C6 orchestrated Church Pire?

    • Until each of us prostates our souls in penitenance before the Lord, the Church will remain in the pig swill of the world and its institutions. But we must remember that in the end the gates of Hell will not prevail against It (the (Church)

    • Mr. Flowerday:

      To help move the dialogue along, are you suggesting :

      A. you believe that those who oppose women’s ordination are likely to be sex abusers, or…
      B. that you personally support women’s ordination?

  2. Where does it leave us? Why not focus simply on the incontrovertible facts? Three popes must be adjudged to have been either incompetent or hypocritical. It is not just Ricard. We now know with certainty that there are scores of cardinals, archbishops, and bishops whose criminal sexual predation is beyond question or doubt. And those are no doubt the top of the iceberg.

  3. Perhaps it’s high time that diocesan and Vatican tribunals open up ALL proceedings against clerics on matters of sexual abuse of minors and those pertaining to an abuse of one’s office in the Church. Names of victims can be redacted but the proceedings must be carried out publicly. The corruption of secrecy in the Church must end. Secrecy insures that crimes against persons will continue.

  4. We look to our leadership to set a godly example. Some set no example and we ask what is their business in the church? A good number ask, where is Papa and what is he really upholding?

    Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

    James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

    Colossians 3:5-6 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

    Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

    Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Let us pray for those in authority that they follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

  5. The corruption runs very, very deep in the hierarchy of our Most Holy Church. I feel it will get much worse before it gets better because we have so long to go before this generation passes us by. The stated objective of the last Council was to evangelize the world, but alas, our missionaries instead adopted the faith of the world. It wasn’t so much the “smoke of Satan” as it was a revelation that his minions had been there all along. Now they’re in charge. Maybe not the Throne, but as critical functionaries in the apparatus. It will be a long time before they leave.

  6. I blame Vatican II.

    I believe this is all due to the pastoral and doctrinal liberalness regarding morals and salvation that was injected into Catholic life by Vatican II.

    The lines have all been blurred. What Pope John XXIII called the “medicine of mercy” has become a license to do as one pleases.

    The Church needs to go back to its traditional hardline ways, with black and while moral lines, and the serious fear of the fires of hell or at least excommunication.

  7. As Adam DeVille has noted here, the Catholic Church governance model is rich ground for corruption and fraud, because there is a total monopoly control on executive, legislative and judicial authority, and there are no checks and balances.

    The Pope Paul VI reorganization of the early 1970s now has a 50 year track record of moral and financial corruption. It needs to be thrown in the wood pile and burned to cinders.

    Then begin by restoring the primacy of the Sacred Congregation for the Faith, and put all legislative authority in its hands, in communion and co-authority with the Bishop of Rome.

    Likewise a Congregation for the Canon Law, and put all judicial authority in its hands, in communion and co-authority with the Bishop of Rome.

    As to Executive authority, work it out as a communion of Bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

  8. Why are the words ‘delicta graviora’ generally translated as ‘the most serious’ crimes? Wouldn’t these be ‘delicta gravissima’?

  9. It’s a glimpse on the inner rot that’s really there and how deep it runs. The big show early on in Francis’s pontificate of a cleaner, simpler pastorate turns out to have been smoke and mirrors. Not long ago in a headline hardly carried anywhere, a homeless man died of exposure to the overnight cold in St. Peter’s Square. Pope Francis “prayed for him”. But I think that event was a sign too, that the inner truth is not what the outside is trying to project. I couldn’t help but remember the story of Dives and Lazarus.

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  1. “Where does this leave us?” | Passionists Missionaries Kenya, Vice Province of St. Charles Lwanga, Fathers & Brothers
  2. “Where does this leave us?” – Via Nova Media

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