Friday, April 25, 2014

Opus Dei Brings Out Their Best Spin Meister's To Defend Their Pope

Greg Burke must have felt a strong need to pull his fellow OD member Jaoquin Navarro-Valls out of retirement on behalf of respinning JPII's dismal record on clerical abuse.

I swore I wasn't going to write one more word on the upcoming Canonizations of JPII and John XXIII, but that was not to be.  This morning Joshua McElwee posted an article for the NCR in which two very prominent JPII apologists attempt to convince us JPII acted with expediency on clergy sexual abuse.  The two men are, American neocon George Weigel and JPII's papal spokesman Dr Jaoquin Navarro-Valls.  Both are closely connected with Opus Dei.  This is important because JPII decreed Opus Dei a Personal Prelature of the Papacy.  This act essentially took OD beyond the control of any local bishop, gave OD a great deal of freedom to operate, and paid back some debts. (For some reason, 'Lannister's always pay their debts' comes to mind.

John Paul II derived great deal of benefit from his association with Opus Dei....all the way to and through out his papacy.  Now that their 'pope' has taken hit after hit in the major news outlets over his handling (mishandling) of the clerical abuse scandal, Opus Dei has brought out their best spinners to defend the soon to be Saint John Paul II.

The following is an excerpt from McElee's article.

.....Navarro-Valls said Friday that John Paul II was not able to act more quickly in Maciel's case because the pope was dying while an investigation he ordered was being concluded. As part of that investigation, Navarro-Valls said, John Paul II had sent Charles Scicluna, then an official at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now an auxiliary bishop in Malta, to collect testimony in places around the world.

"The pope knew that the investigation was underway but was not informed of the results" because it was only concluded as he was dying in 2005, Navarro-Valls said. (It hasn't gone unnoticed by some of us that as long as the Legion was in the news, Opus Dei wasn't. On the other hand, this is also a tacit admission someone else was running JPII"s papacy in it's final years.  I wonder who that was?)

The former spokesperson also said he met with Pope Benedict in the "first days of his pontificate" to discuss the findings in the Maciel investigation.

Navarro-Valls said he pressed upon the new pope in that meeting the importance of making the results of the investigation public, which he said Benedict immediately agreed to, telling him to hold a press conference the next day. (Navarro-Valls statement is true only in the sense that we were told Maciel was ordered to a life of penance.  We were not told why he was so ordered, nor given any details from the investigation itself.  Nor were any apologies issued to Maciel's victims.)
Also speaking Friday at the Vatican briefing was American writer George Weigel, who has written several biographies of Pope John Paul II. He also defended the pontiff's record in responding to clergy sexual abuse.
During the time of reporting on sexual abuse in the Boston archdiocese in 2002, Weigel said, there was "an information gap" between the news being made public in the United States and at the Vatican. (Oh, that's right.  This was all happening in that time frame when no one in the Vatican knew how to use the internet. Of course there was an information gap.....cough, cough.)

"I think there was an information gap particularly between the United States and the Holy See in the first months of 2002 so that the pope was not living this crisis in real time as we were in the U.S.," Weigel said.  (It's hard to function in real time when your handlers don't give you real time information.)

"But once he became fully informed in April of that year, he acted decisively to deal with those problems," he said.  (This would be precisely the time that Secretary of State Cardinal Sodano would have become aware of the fact that Boston's Cardinal Law suddenly needed a position with the Holy See.) 

In April 2002, John Paul met with 12 U.S. cardinals and bishops' conference officers at the Vatican. He told them he was "deeply grieved" by news of clerical sexual abuse and said there was no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm children.  (And took exactly no meaningful action.)

Weigel also said that John Paul II had been a "great reformer" of the Catholic priesthood and had faced a "crisis" during the 1970s of "weak seminary formation" of priests, a "small minority" of who were engaging in sexual abuse....... (I can't wait for Bill Donohue to use these exact same talking points....except 'a small minority' will become 'gay priests'.)


The quick canonization of JPII and the coupling of same with the fudging of qualifications for John XXIII may not go down as high points in Pope Francis' legacy.  All I've gotten out of this is that canonization has become a political process as opposed to a spiritual process.  Personally, I wait for the day the Church begins to canonize people whose miracles happen in their lives and not after their deaths....and involve other areas than medical miracles.  The truth is the placebo effect is far more efficacious than the efforts of either of these popes, but I would imagine that's not a truth pious Catholics want to believe.

Now for a quick personal note.  I was not able to do much with this blog for the last two weeks due to commitments at work.  Between being down two full staff positions and compensating for mandatory training, all of us saw far more of work than we might have liked.  Hopefully that's over for awhile and I can get back on a more regular writing schedule. 



  1. So tired of this whole 'It ain't my fault I didn't do anything' because 'it is such a recent phenomena' attitude. I find particularly tiresome when I remember secular newspapers reporting in the US about sexual abuse by RCC clerics back in the early 70's. That was before JP2 became pope. He was in office for 20+ years. He had plenty of time to sort things out and do something more than utter platitudes.

  2. where was the post of 'devil's advocate' when it was needed . . .

  3. Cardinal Law was given all kinds of rewards when he went to Rome, one step ahead of the police and we in the Northeast remember that.
    Also I scream when I hear,"gee, we didn't know it was wrong, damaging to children, etc etc. "My husband was ordered by a priest 80+ years ago in the confessional to go to the rectory and wait for him there and he knew what happened was wrong. He just didn't dare tell because no one would believe him.
    The clergy protect their own.

  4. Your point about Opus Dei conveniently not being in the news when Maciel was, is certifiably false...go back and do a google analytics of those terms in the news between those years...but it does sort of fan the reflexive flame of conspiracy. Dan Brown would be proud.

  5. tpei, Yes the papacy ignored many warnings for many years. Joseph, There were lots of google searches for Opus Dei because of a film that seemed to implicate them in wrong doing.

  6. Are you kidding me? OD has not been on front page news outlets since Dan Brown. Go back and do your homework.

  7. Yes. JPII had many years to seriously deal with this problem. He didn't. Neither did John XXIII or Paul VI. Silence was apparently the golden path to Sainthood.

  8. Stamped out..... one hates to think because officially JPII thought it was an impediment to some people's canonization. I hate to say it, but dumping it was useful for canonizing Escriva just as it's abscence will be for John Paul II....and for that matter John XXIII.

    When there is no opportunity for serious scrutiny, saints fall from heaven like candy.

  9. "Yet if convenient selectiveness be the standard for hypocrisy
    then let us now introduce you to the original smorgasbord Catholics,
    the men who arbitrarily pick and choose which teachings to accept and which to ignore on much grander scale than the typical liberal Catholic,
    Opus Dei."

    Absolutely is much of the rest of your comment. The implications of this are profound for the globe and devastating for individual believers because it will set both back to a world view that will not be supported in the very near future, and isn't really supported now.

  10. You had me at "Lannisters always pay their debts!" Perfectly drawn parallel! While JPII did some beautiful work to expand the breadth of the Institution beyond "European White folks," he failed miserably in the treatment of the priest sex abuse scandal. Instead of trying to re-spin the story, why doesn't the Vatican acknowledge that JPII was an imperfect human being and that "Gee, even imperfect people can be made saints." When is the Church going to acknowledge and own its shadow? I think we are LONG overdue!

    Lauri Lumby

  11. Did you actually look at the overlay of the trend lines between the two concepts during the Maciel scandal years, to see whether they do or do not corroborate your assertion?

    The data perfectly and soundly refute your 'talk'. Go to the data.

  12. As usual, Fr. Thomas Doyle puts all of the Spin-Meisters in their place. This essay is definitive, and should resolve all doubts regarding what JPII did and didn't know.

  13. Colleen, you are correct. At least in the US, the Maciel scandal generated far more news than Opus Dei if you omit the Dan Brown era which provided Opus Dei and their supporters a great opportunity to flood the media with their own fiction. As to who was running the Vatican when Wojtyla became incapacitated, I think it would be Sodano, Navarro-Valls and Dziwicz.

  14. Didn't know it was wrong my royal Irish you know what. As someone in the Australian commission said was a hanging do you not know it is wrong to molest little boys and girls..or bigger ones...

  15. Just didn't OD use the Dan Brown first book and movie to present their pure vision of themselves. I noticed there was no explanation as to how some of their more prominent Italian lay members were also linked as members of the Masonic Lodge P2 during the Banco Ambrosiano scandal at the beginning of JPII's papacy. It was miraculous how JPII was able to pay off 200 million plus in Vatican debt when Banco Ambrosiano collapsed and the Vatican held over 40% of it's shares.

    Gosh God can be so magnanimous.

  16. sylvesterpatsteffenApril 26, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    It's all about political sensitivity. And that doesn't wash well with people who have had it with imperial politics. Pope Francis apparently wants to keep everybody at the table. The time is likely to come when some will conclude they are dis-invited. The big question is who will feel dis-invited first. I mean really, who thinks that Saint John Paul II would or could ever put on the shoes of St. John XXIII, let alone the shoes of Pope Francis? In a sense, what Pope Francis does or doesn't do, the ship is out-to-sea, and the people are setting its course.

  17. See, Coleen, Joseph (edward) has found that codicil of your writing that could be a little off. Therefore, everything you have written must be seen as untrue. Joe (ed), this is the stuff of lawyerly argumentation. "Perfectly and soundly refute your talk" because I can find a newspaper that mentions them both.

    I get tired of this self hypnosis, this refusal to grow, masquerading as faith. I don't know how the Holy Spirit stands it. She is much more patient than I.

  18. Self hypnosis..LOL...all tuckered out. Too much.

  19. I was thinking that after a couple seasons of the Dallas, I got tired of waiting to see J.R.s comeuppance - which he so richly deserved. I got tired of watching the the richly deserved comeuppances over the sexual abuse problems in the clergy. Time to move on and for the same reason. Only is this case it wasn't just changing the TV channel. It was moving on to find spiritual support elsewhere.

  20. BaptizedBabyBoomerApril 26, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    I swore I would not post anymore many times and then something comes up like this and I just have to say something too, Colleen. Here's my dime's worth.

    This canonization seems surreal and makes no sense to me other than it is political too. It reveals the mind of Pope Francis maybe that he desires reconciliation and I don't think this is the way to go about it to reach real reconciliation. It sort of reveals where PFI is spiritually at the moment. It can't be very pleasant for him.

    It is a political show that the Vatican is familiar with displaying for way too long. Perhaps this plan was set in place even before PF was elected. I don't know.

    It seems an extension of PJPII's tone on the one hand and conciliation or patronization at least externally of some of PJXXIII ideas, however, in a polluted sense especially with the obvious presence of Opus Dei still working with no oversight or regulation & exists in such close proximity to the two living Popes. Familiar theme in secular politics for those in power to not have anyone regulating or overseeing the banks activities, etc. I do not see any reconciliation politically or spiritually though from this activity of making these two Popes Saints. It is not a demonstration that the RCC leadership is hot with the Holy Spirit.

    It is impossible to wrap my mind around the thought of PJPII being called a Saint, when what is revealed of his inaction in dealing with the sexual predation by Priests, the enabling, the hiding, the lies, and this is so contrary to Saintliness. It just seems to scream hypocrisy. Makes no sense spiritually. It seems like institutional self-glorification is going on.

    What is becoming of the Roman Catholic Church? Where is the central message of Christ in this spectacle? Certainly, how could one believe that hiding & enabling pedophile priests all those years and letting the People of God suffer the consequences of being molested have anything to do with Saintliness! It's anathema.

    I am an official Papal Sainthood Party-pooper & proud of it.

    Since it seems Opus Dei is running the show, maybe the Papacy is just like a secular monarchy now with no real power. More like a Presidency in which the Pope is given bad advise. Like a Presidency in which nothing can get done due to obstructionist.

  21. Yes. That 200 million plus was money well spent and a cheap price for what OD gained in return.

  22. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

  23. "Crucify him. Crucify him."

  24. There are two parts to the scandal. The perversions and how they were handled. Better screening of candidates to the priesthood would go a long way to making sure reoccurrence is rare. Would be an interesting topic but don't expect to see on this blog.

  25. Hope you all were able to participate in Divine Mercy Sunday.

  26. Perhaps what you might find, Elasticity, on this blog is a call for better screening of all who are called. Married and unmarried and men and women. The RCC is fast becoming not a missionary church but a mega church after mega bucks...

  27. Remember Elasticity that Christ was crucified buy the leadership of His day. The question is would they crucify such a radical of this day. Think they would murder if not his body at least his mind.....

  28. Perhaps you did not see my answer below, Joseph there were lots of searches for OD at that time because of a film that put this organization in a very bad light.

  29. I saw it but it doesn't touch the argument that Opus Dei benefited by Maciel being inthe news rather than they. Maybe you guys don't deal with data very much.

    Opus Dei oddly benefits when the noisy uniformed class try to prop up a case against them, because the calmer class actually starts to learn about what the mission of Opus Dei..and the Dan Brown and NCRep types just continue to blather on.

  30. BaptizedBabyBoomerApril 30, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    Everyday is a day of Divine Mercy, especially when there are so many nukes around the globe, tyrants, dictators and con men running things that they are too reckless, irresponsible and immature to run, let alone oversee.

    And I see from your comment that you believe you have divine mercy and that we don't if we did not "participate" in the formality authorized by pedophile priest enablers. How interesting. If you had divine mercy, where is your mercy? Jesus extends mercy to all. If you are a follower of Christ you will extend Mercy, just as He did. The 'not a real saint' PJPII allowed the persecution of children and the young to continue by aiding and abetting and elevating sexual predator enabler priests. Not Christ-like of him to do, nor of those who agreed with him or were silently complicit in allowing for such crimes. Open your eyes. Take the elastic band off them.

    Divine Mercy Sunday replaces devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (that has gone out of style according to a priest in his homily on Divine Mercy Sunday) and it is an attempt, a lame one at that, to not really focus on the reality of Jesus in the Holy Spirit and His Resurrection. The Holy Spirit comes and goes where it will, Elasticity. No one is in charge of the HS. No one. Not even Popes.

    Yes, Jesus said, forgive them, they know not what they do, to even those who persecuted him. I think that perhaps you are asking us to forgive pedophile priests and their enablers and that should settle everything? That is definitely one-sided of you if that is the case. Do you think it is just a matter of forgiveness on our part? If you believe that God is a God of love and Jesus is symbolic of Divine Mercy and we say there must be reform and change within the hierarchy to prevent sexual abuse, why do you fight us? That there should not be a system in place that addresses the issue responsibly to ensure it not ever happen again is something you are opposed to? The Holy Spirit can not work within the People of God to resolve problems? We should just accept the hierarchy's word when they have proven themselves so incapable of demonstrating leadership that is Christ-like? I know atheist who are kinder at giving mercy than complicit priests who harbored pedophile priests. Where was their Mercy towards the victims? Where was their Mercy towards children and families who suffered the consequences of a Vatican policy of silence about pedophile priests? Come on now, Elasticity. We are not fooled anymore. "All things shall be revealed." And things certainly have been revealed regarding sexual predation by priests for hundreds of years. Covering it up with sweet talk about saintliness of PJPII does not un-reveal what has been revealed.

  31. By calmer class do you mean the mindless sheep? Besides Joseph or Edward, Many of whom you call the calmer class have been stimulated on this and another board to be quite emotional and irrational. It is easier for some to deny rather than examine what a poor job The RCC leadership has done for many years. Opus Dei was in the news because of the film that many saw and related it to this authoritarian organization founded by the followers of one Francisco Franco who had an authoritarian style of leadership himself......

  32. No, actually I was at work, dealing with residential clients, some of whom have been abused beyond their capacity to recognize mercy. It's when I understand that sad fact that I truly appreciate Divine Mercy because human mercy is rarely extended to my people.

  33. Abolishing the sarcedotal priesthood would go a long way to removing the power differential that makes abuse of any kind very easy. This is precisely why Jesus emphasized service and insisted the last shall be first.

  34. Is a reliable biography of JP2 available as yet ? I have the pre-2005 edition of John Allen's biography of the then Cardinal Ratzinger, and Allen comes across as scrupulously fair-minded, even when (indeed, especially when) he criticises the Cardinal. That is the sort of thing I'm looking for - not a partisan piece of work that is a hatchet job or a hagiography, but something truthful, as nearly free of bias as is humanly possible, thoroughly well-informed, and scrupulously fair. Allen's fair-mindedness is my chief impression of the book.

    I'm a decided minimalist where the recent canonisations are concerned. The solution that - more or less - satisfies me, is to take the view that if JP2 & P6 & J23 are in Heaven, they are, at least in that sense, Saints. But it would have much better if their causes had to had 50 years or so before even beginning; that would have given the Church time to let the euphoria & kerfuffle pass; it would also have allowed them to be seen in more accurate perspective - STM we are still far near to their pontificates to be able to assess them properly. Rushing causes for canonisation does nobody any good. Some French author said something to the effect that "God is not obliged to clear up after the mistakes of His Vicars" - I think that puts matters very well, and amusingly.