Cover image: The New York State attorney general, Barbara Underwood, has launched an investigation into whether Roman Catholic institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of minors. CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times
In his letter No. 53 from the Vatican, Dr Robert Moynihan shares with readers the likely turn of events at the Vatican and the Catholic Church depending on the push for the reform and zero tolerance for sexual abuse in the church which the Pope had promised.
As mentioned in the New York Post of 6th September 2018 (report captioned Stirred by Sexual Abuse Report, States take on Catholic Church by Sharon Otterman and Laurie Goodstein), Attorneys general across the United States are taking a newly aggressive stance in investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations into malfeasance and issuing subpoenas for documents. On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a criminal investigation. The new inquiries come several weeks after an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over decades. With Catholics clamoring for more transparency from their church, demanding that bishops release the names of accused priests, civil authorities are beginning to step up to force disclosure. In this way, there are fears many dioceses may go bankrupt by being made to pay compensation to sex abuse victims and in the process close down. It is here donor organisations like Legatus founder Thomas Monaghan (the former owner of Domino's Pizza and Detroit Tigers baseball team and the founder of Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida) which funds the Vatican annually one million US Dollars, have to come forward to prop up a much cleansed local Church. Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.
Dr Robert Moynihan
Friday, September 7, 2018
Today is the 14th day since the publication of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano's "Testimony." (The full text is here; it was made public on the evening of August 25.)
The situation remains fraught with danger for the Church.
One danger is a split in the Church.
The likelihood of such a split seems greater as the days pass. Why so?
Because many in Rome around the Pope seem to underestimate the revulsion of ordinary Catholics in America for what has been revealed about sexual abuse, and the cover-ups of that abuse.
And many powerful, conservative Catholics in America are exploiting this revulsion to build what seemed impossible two or three years ago — a popular movement against a popular Pope.
So Francis, with the highest approval ratings of any recent Pope, is, against all expectations, somehow managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for his "reform agenda."
This is happening because he has suddenly, unexpectedly, begun to appear as the opposite of a reformer.
He has begun to appear as someone who does not wish to undertake the reforms needed to protect young people, and root out corruption in the Church.
This is the paradox of these latest events.
To put it another way: there is no constituency for any proposal to go back to the "status quo ante Vigano" — the status quo of the situation Vigano denounced, a situation in which too many Church leaders did not take the abuse of children and seminarians and young people very seriously, or at least, not seriously enough.
Therefore, we are in a situation in which any proposal that does not call for a thorough "house-cleaning" in the Church, any proposal which says "let's just wait it out until this storm passes," will not fly.
The only path is forward, through whatever difficulties emerge, not backward to the days when abuse was covered up.
This does not mean Pope Francis should resign.
He is the Pope, and there remains a vast reservoir of support for the Successor of Peter, even now.
So Francis, even now, could lead a reform.
But the moment for him to announce such a reform is now, not tomorrow, or next year.
And such a true reform must begin — as it did in the case of the abuse allegations in Chile — with the admission that part of the problem has been with the Popes themselves, with the system of ecclesial cover-up that has not been reformed by any of the recent Popes, a system that allowed many abuses to occur.
And to go on decisively from there, to cleanse the Church of the filth which has made her a mockery to the world, a laughingstock, preventing her from bearing witness to the Gospel, which is her sole mission — leading all to Jesus Christ.