Pope Francis can't afford to remain silent

There's an old saying that goes: It's not what you say that matters -- it's what you don't say.And la...

Posted: Sep 4, 2018 7:37 PM
Updated: Sep 4, 2018 7:37 PM

There's an old saying that goes: It's not what you say that matters -- it's what you don't say.

And last week, while on a papal visit to Ireland, Pope Francis was derelict in his duties. Though he acknowledged the latest sex abuse scandal, implicating some 300 priests, as a failure of the Catholic Church, he largely ignored another allegation -- one that directly involves him.

Belief, religion and spirituality

Catholics and catholicism

Christianity

Misc people

Papacy and the Pope

Pope Francis

Religious groups

Society

Buildings and structures

Carlo Maria Vigano

Churches and cathedrals

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Europe

Points of interest

Political Figures - Intl

Political Figures - US

Religious buildings

Southern Europe

Vatican

In an 11-page letter, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano accused Pope Francis of having been informed of the serial predation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a leading Catholic figure in Washington, in June of 2013, and doing nothing. The Church has found the allegations against McCarrick to be "credible and substantiated." Cardinal McCarrick has since resigned from his post, although he issued a statement maintaining his innocence.

If Vigano's allegation is true, it indicates that the pontiff has been complicit, via his silence, in covering up activity that should have been immediately referred to local law enforcement. While some maintain there is no concrete evidence Pope Francis was presented with this information, one writer for USA Today says that Vigano's allegations about the pontiff "corresponds to anecdotal evidence piling up against [him]."

And in an interview with PBS, Dennis Coday, editor for the National Catholic Reporter, said that Vigano's allegations were that Pope Benedict -- Francis' predecessor -- "had imposed some kind of sanctions, some restricted ministry, on McCarrick, and that those were never enforced."

These reports detail either a troubling pattern of obtuseness or purposeful ignoring of credible accusations.

Confronted by journalists while aboard his return flight to the Vatican, a pope known for his loquacious forays into high-profile and polarizing policy issues suddenly clung to talking points: "I will say sincerely that I must say this, to you, and all of you who are interested: Read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves. I will not say one word on this."

His strikingly tone-deaf comments aside, what could possibly have compelled the man purported to be the Vicar of Christ from publicly speaking out more often and more forcefully on the confirmed criminal activities perpetrated by so many men of the cloth who answer to the Vatican?

Pope Francis has never been one to miss an opportunity to provide his worldview on topics about which his predecessors were more reticent. In 2015, the Washington Post even drafted a collection of his most liberal statements, which included reconciliation with homosexuality, calling out corporate greed, championing globalization, forgiveness for abortion, streamlining of the marriage annulment process and acknowledgment of climate change.

But what really pleased progressives, who have often chafed at the Catholic Church's entrenched conservatism, were his rebukes of President Donald Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Pontiff suggested that Trump was "not Christian." Taking a direct shot at the then-candidate, Pope Francis pointedly stated: "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian." A self-described counterpuncher, Trump fired back at a campaign stop in South Carolina: "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful."

And yet, for all of his purported political courage, in the Church's disgraceful perpetuation of its pedophilia scandal Pope Francis has acted like a coward.

I don't come at this assessment lightly. I have been a proud Roman Catholic for some 53 years, and was raised in church service, first an altar boy and later as a liturgical minister, or reader, during the mass.

And I have skin in the game. No, I don't have a #MeToo-type story of being plied with altar wine and taken advantage of by a parish priest. But during the early-1990s, as a young father, one of my children was baptized by a local clergyman, who had become a family friend. Father Patrick W. Quigley served Immaculate Conception R.C. Church in Stony Point, New York, and a short time after performing the sacrament for my family, was arrested for propositioning young boys for sex in nearby Nyack, New York.

He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor solicitation charge and was sentenced to probation. The diocese removed him from the parish, and he was sent away for psychiatric evaluation and treatment for alcoholism at a Maryland rehabilitation center. Quigley was laicized (defrocked) by the Vatican in 2005 and died in 2010.

In the days before the internet, word of his depravity still spread like wildfire throughout our Catholic community, a sleepy enclave an hour's drive north of New York City. I recall my palpable anger at his betrayal -- a man who only months before had held my infant aloft and pronounced the innocent child a member of our faith.

My blood boils at the memories, even now, almost three decades later.

Maybe this personal experience allows me a more visceral reaction to the Pope's seeming nonchalance on this issue. After all, if he can find the time to announce a call-to-action on the "endless fields" of plastic in the oceans, he should be able to carve out the time to discuss the elephant in the room -- serial abuse of young children.

Pope Francis needs to find his voice on this matter, and he needs to find it quickly. The Church's sad list of aggrieved victims continues to grow.

Recall that Rome burned while a distracted Nero famously fiddled. Last time I checked, the Vatican is in the middle of Rome.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Columbus
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 46°
Oxford
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 43°
Starkville
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 39°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather