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A snapshot of an exhausting 2022

It’s been a brutal five years in the news, if you stop and think about it.

(Image: Hartmut Tobies/Unsplash.com)

The faithful took a pummeling, this year as last, though I noticed in preparing for this piece that I’d described 2021 as “the year of meh” in my review of it. It’s been a brutal five years in the news, if you stop and think about it.

2017 saw micro-fissures in the Roman Curia become visible to the naked eye. 2018 was the year the crisis of leadership exploded into worldwide scandal. 2019 was the year that everybody saw nothing happen. 2020 was  full-on ‘ronatide.

This year, there was more of l’Affaire Zanchetta and its farcical dénouement, the arrest of Cardinal Zen (and the Vatican’s muted early response followed by a high-level intervention that served to set in relief how difficult the Vatican’s commitments have become.

All that was punctuated by protracted papal dithering and double-speak on the terrible war in Ukraine, outrageous high jinks around red hats, incessant and mostly senseless yammering about “synodality” and such, improbable rumors of papal resignation, a big gathering of red hats that turned out to be a wet squib except for the illuminating photo ops it afforded, and a series of egregious Vatican communications fiascoes.

It was only September.

November brought news that a French cardinal had sexually abused a girl when he was a parish priest, and it was barely even news, but left scribblers on the Vatican beat and faithful around the world wondering where all that left us?

All that, it turns out, was prelude.

The year closed with news of Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, SJ, the celebrated artist-priest accused of serial sexual, psychological, and spiritual abuse of at least nine women over several years, and possibly more than two decades. Several of the women were religious sisters attached to the Loyola Community he founded in the 1980s.

Senior churchmen covered for Fr. Rupnik. Pope St. John Paul II helped him set up a major mosaic studio in Rome, while Rupnik’s Jesuit superiors and other senior Church leaders reportedly either looked the other way when Rupnik suddenly left his native Slovenia, or actively worked to discredit his accusers. When the efforts of another Jesuit made it impossible to ignore the allegations against Rupnik, the Vatican types gave him a slap on the wrist and refused to prosecute his actual crimes of abuse.

If you’re interested and think you can stomach it, read hereherehere, and here.

I’m still trying to figure out what it all means, and will have something to say in that direction shortly, but for now, the mere rehearsal of all this business – only a very cursory one of only the major highlights – has left me exhausted.

Light in the dark

If you ask me, the best story of the closing year in Catholic news was the canonization of Titus Brandsma. It was a light and a buoy during a dismal twelvemonth, but it would have been a bright spot in any year.

St. Titus saw the good in people and tried to live peaceably. He stood up to bullies and called evil by name. He even stirred the hierarchy to courageous action. He saw himself stripped of every earthly dignity and deprived of every earthly pleasure. Eventually, he paid for his stubbornness with his life, but the story didn’t end there.

It strikes me now, how fitting it was that the holy Carmelite philosopher-scribbler should have been raised to the honor of the altars along with St. Charles de Foucauld, the French cavalry officer and adventurer who left it all behind to become first a monk and then a hermit.

The miracle that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints pinned on then-Blessed Charles de Foucauld is also fitting our current and long-standing circumstances, which are critical and hardly stable. A fellow fell from a great height while working in a church, and impaled himself on a pew.

The fall should have killed him.

Getting impaled should have killed him.

Neither did kill him, though, and the fellow – named Charle, it happens – was out of the hospital in a little over a week and back to work within a couple of months. Led by the wife of the owner of the company for which Charle worked, the prayers of an entire community went up and received answer.

A personal note

Personally, the end of 2022 is significant in that it marks five years since I left the Vatican service.

I anchored my last live newscast at The Thing That Used To Be Vatican Radio on the evening of December 31st, 2017. It is always an honor to be in the service of the Holy Father, one I bore for a dozen years, and did not put down lightly.

Said quite simply: it was time to move on. When I left, I said so, and I stand by it. I also expressed hope of some time away from the 24-hour news cycle, but then Pope Francis went to Chile and the Barros business happened. The rest is history.


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About Christopher R. Altieri 190 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 Comment

  1. Senior churchmen covered for Fr. Rupnik. Pope St. John Paul II helped him set up a major mosaic studio in Rome….

    Maybe I see what I want to see (and maybe the position of that sentence together with the first phrase of the next is chance) but I don’t recall reading in your recent articles any implication that S. Ioannes Paulus II himself knew about Pater Rupnik’s evil nastiness. But I’ll take the opportunity to re-read the linked pieces. A blessed and peaceful new year to you and your family.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. A snapshot of an exhausting 2022 | Passionists Missionaries Kenya, Vice Province of St. Charles Lwanga, Fathers & Brothers
  2. A snapshot of an exhausting 2022 | Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph (FSJ) , Asumbi Sisters Kenya

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