The former director of the U.S. Bishops Secretariat for Doctrine said this week that any serious investigation into the clerical sex abuse crisis must address “the issue of active homosexuality among the clergy and the bishops.”
Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy told the National Catholic Register that Pope Francis’ convocation of the national heads of bishops’ conferences scheduled for February 29, 2019 to address the abuse crisis could either be an effective instrument to deal with the problem or simply a show for the media.
It will become clear “how serious” the pope is about dealing with the issue if the February meeting addresses “the issue of active homosexuality among the clergy and the bishops,” Weinandy said, since by now it has “become quite evident that priests and bishops engage in homosexual activity.”
The priest said he would be more hopeful if prior the meeting, “real movement” had been made to hold bishops accountable “through investigation of the McCarrick scandal.”
In mid August, the president of the U.S. Bishops Conference (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, made a formal request to the Vatican to open a thorough investigation into the McCarrick case.
I promised that the USCCB would “advocate before those with greater authority, to pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick,” DiNardo wrote in a statement last month. “On August 16th, I called for an Apostolic Visitation, working in concert with a national lay commission granted independent authority, to seek the truth,” he said.
DiNardo said that he convened the bishops’ Executive Committee once again on August 26 and it “reaffirmed the call for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement.”
When Rome failed to act on the bishops’ request, Cardinal DiNardo traveled to Rome to personally urge Francis to open the investigation. He did meet with the pope on September 13 to make his appeal for action but returned to the United States empty handed.
Father Weinandy has joined the ranks of those who find Rome’s silence and inaction unacceptable.
By the time of the February summit, he told the Register, it must be made clear who knew what and when, who promoted Archbishop McCarrick, and whether the allegations of Archbishop Viganò are true or false.
If that doesn’t happen, he said, and if Cardinal DiNardo is “stonewalled” from reaching the “truth and the heart of the problem,” then Catholics will know the Rome meeting is “primarily a media event.”
The Church must also be willing to take the unpopular stand of denouncing homosexual activity among the bishops and clergy, Weinandy said, since the abuse of minors is just the tip of the iceberg.
It is easy for the pope and the bishops to condemn child abuse, Weinandy said, because there is broad consensus about the gravity of that abuse, whereas criticizing homosexual activity is something “secular liberal society will not tolerate.”
The use of phrases like “vulnerable adults” underscores the collective reluctance of many bishops to address the matter forthrightly, he said.
But unless homosexuality is dealt with “in a thorough manner, the laity will rightly perceive the meeting as merely a sham,” he said.
In his bombshell August 25 report, former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò tied both the abuse crisis in the Church as well as cover-ups by bishops to an extensive “homosexual network” in the Church.
“These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies,” he said, “and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church.”
As an example, Viganò claimed that former Vatican Secretary of States Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone had insistently presented “candidates known to be active homosexuals” for the episcopate and withheld compromising information on candidates from then-Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, whom Francis has appointed to positions of influence, also “belong to the homosexual current in favor of subverting Catholic doctrine on homosexuality,” Viganò said.
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