Many have commented that the depth of frustration and anger over the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report as well as Archbishop Vignano’s testimony is because they prove that the response by Church authorities to the first clergy abuse crisis in 2002 was inadequate and insincere.
The current crisis, however, is not the second but the third major series of revelations of abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church. In Pope Benedict’s 2010 (‘Year of the Priest’) Christmas address to the Curia, he laments the new round of abuse reports, primarily from western Europe, and recalls a vision given to St. Hildegard:
“…[I]n this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime. …In this context, a vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind, a vision which describes in a shocking way what we have lived through this past year.
“In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. …But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’
“…And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)” (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).
“The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good.”
At least he tried. Will God now have to step in and cleanse the Church?
zero tolerance‘ — strike 1
zero tolerance‘ — strike 2
zero tolerance‘ — strike 3
Feckless Church authorities may now have to reap what they have sown.
“When they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind; The stalk of grain that forms no head can yield no flour; Even if it could, strangers would swallow it”.
If Archbishop Vigano’s testimony is truthful, Cardinal McCarrick was made “kingmaker” by a pope who was fully aware of his predatory behaviors and canonical crimes. Instead of banishing him he was appointed a close advisor, particularly with respect to episcopal appointments. Again, the prophet Hosea:
“They made kings, but not by my authority; they established princes, but without my knowledge” (8:4).
God then chose Israel’s enemy, the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III, to chastise his Chosen People.
Which among the Church’s enemies today will be the ones who are given the responsibility for cleaning house, civil authorities? Jihadis? both?