|The clerical caste under Francis is not about to let go of their grasp on the Holy Spirit. Although in this case the dove got away. There's a message there for Francis and his limited ideas of reform.|
After reading NCR's article and a translation of yesterday's interview with Pope Francis in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera I felt like a light had dawned on a dark area and some of my confusion cleared. I was also sick to my stomach. Pope Francis' take on the abuse crisis could have been written by Bill Donohue. Really, if I had not gotten so excited about Francis last spring, I should have seen this coming along time ago. None of the Cardinals on his group of 8 have stellar records when it comes to the victims of the abuse crisis and that includes Cardinal O'Malley. Cardinals Maradiaga and Pell are on record for statements that clearly indicate their concern was far more about offending priests than it was victims. Francis' record in Argentina also shows he put priesthood before victim. I'll get back to that point, but first the following is from the Southern Italian newspaper Gazzeta del Sul and gives yet more insight into where Francis' allegiances really lie.
Pope says he 'shares pain' of wrongly accused priests
False claims of child prostitution ring hurt many, says FrancisVatican City, March 6 - Pope Francis told a group of Rome priests Thursday that he "shared the pain" of priests suffering "unjust wounds" caused by allegations against some of them. "Lots of people have been injured, by material problems, by scandals, including in the Church," the pope said during a meeting with priests inside the Vatican. He was referring to an incident in March 2013 when former priest Patrizio Poggi was convicted and sent to prison for five years for pedophilia, and also denounced other priests, saying they were involved in a child prostitution ring. Police later said his claims were unfounded and Poggi was charged with aggravated slander. According to police, his accusations were driven by "resentment tied to personal reasons". The pope said the case hurt many in the Church. "I shared the pain of some of you, of the entire priesthood, for the accusations made against a group of you," Francis told the meeting. "I have talked to some of you who have been accused and saw the pain of these unjust wounds, (this) madness, and I want to say publicly that I am close to (you)," he said. Francis said he also apologized on behalf of the Church because the false accusations came from within its ranks His comments come following an interview published Wednesday, in which Pope Francis defended the Church's response to a long series of scandals about child sex abuse by clergymen.
There is no longer any question in my mind that Pope Francis, like his papal predecessors of the twentieth century is a Roman Catholic priest first, last, and always and that in his mind the priesthood is the Church. For all his talk about service to the laity, he will never allow any changes to the priesthood he has completely identified with for his entire adult life. I suspect his cardinal electors were relying on that identification as the brakes on meaningful reform with in Catholicism. Given this mindset Francis is not about to identify with clerical abuse victims, as he is incapable of it, and will always put the priesthood above victims. I now find his choice of papal name more than interesting since the original Francis purposely refused ordination. I think there is a real message here. Until he can somehow set his priesthood aside, he can not identify with the concerns of the laity. This is true for amost all clergy, and is why I have very little hope the upcoming synod on the family will produce meaningful results for the laity. The best that will happen is it will produce meaningful results for the clergy. It might allow them a little more pastoral latitude on thorny issues.
It seems to me what Francis is trying to do is to have his cake and eat it too. He wants just enough reform to keep the all male clerical priesthood untouched while engaging in some change. We've seen movement on financial issues, at least in terms of getting the Vatican financial interests in compliance with EU requirements, but the over all supervision is still firmly in the hands of Cardinal priests. (And more and more Opus Dei.) We have heard multiple statements on a wider role for women in the Church and multiple statements that this wider role will not include any form of ordination which only makes that wider role more widely subordinate to male clergy. We have heard statements about acting on the abuse crisis and seen very very little action. Check out this pathetic statement from Fr Lombardi, who is once again called into the breach to defend Francis. Here's a taste:
"Regarding what has been described as the Pope’s “defensive” tone, Fr. Lombardi said that it was a recognition of the fact that while the Church has been committed to repairing past failures, it has “not been recognized objectively.”
The problem for Fr Lombardi and Pope Francis is the Church's efforts have been recognized objectively and they have been found seriously deficient. Not every Catholic lives reality wrapped in a clerical bubble.
The one trait that makes Fr Tom Doyle so different from his clerical bretheren is that he got out of his clerical bubble and put his priesthood on the back burner. He became a human being first, and this allowed him to really see the clerical abuse crisis for what it was, how much had to change to effect meaningful change, and gave him the compassionate heart to recognize this crisis is not about priests. It is about the victims of priests. The price for this spiritual maturation was sacrificing his priesthood. The price for cleaning things up in the Church will be sacrificing our current theological justifications for the Trentan priesthood. This pope, like Benedict, John Paul II, and Paul VI will not be able to climb on that particular cross. For them the price is to high. Instead, we Catholics will see them all canonized as martyrs to secularization. Go us.