Let’s Starve the Church?

“Because the story of Theodore McCarrick isn’t just a story about sexual abuse. It’s about institutions and power.”
—Jonathan Last, The American Standard, 15 Sept. 2018.

There is a fine article in The American Standard by Jonathan Last giving a long view on the current crisis in the Church.  He gives a good summary of what has gone on before and, most importantly, puts it all in a context of who has power in the Church and what that signifies.

“The institutional damage is done not by the abusers but by the structures that cover for them, excuse them, and advance them. Viewed in that way, the damage done to the Catholic church by Cardinal Wuerl—and every other bishop who knew about McCarrick and stayed silent—is several orders of magnitude greater than that done by McCarrick himself.”
loc. cit.

As Last points out, the Pope has absolute authority as a moral judge; he can ignore immorality or he can deal with it.

The Catholic church is unlike any other earthly institution. It is strictly hierarchical, with its ultimate power derived from the son of God. The head of the church—the successor of Peter—is elected to a lifetime appointment by his peers, and his authority over them is total. He can allow them to carry on sexual affairs in broad daylight, as Francis did with Father Krzysztof Charamsa, a priest who worked for years in the Vatican curia while living openly with his gay lover. Or he can drive them from the church, as Francis did with Father Charamsa after the priest made his situation public in the Italian media in 2015. He can make either of these choices—or any choice in between—for any reason he likes. Or none at all. Such is the supreme power of the vicar of Christ.”
loc. cit.

Last goes on to talk about how a cabal of four “progressive” cardinals acted to get Bergoglio elected Pope, and the consequences of this.  He then projects four possible scenarios for the future:

  1. Francis could resign;
  2. Catholics could resign themselves to the moral mess to which some of the hierarchy has led us;
  3. A low probability option is schism;
  4. Finally, Catholics could resist the changes the liberal hierarchy is trying to install (a la the liberal resistance to Trump?)

And how would this resistance be carried out?   One weapon Last suggests is to

“..starve bishops such as Wuerl, Cupich, and Tobin of funds. Not a dime for any church in any diocese headed by a bishop who refuses to root out abusers and their enablers.”
loc. cit.

And resistance plus organization might work …in another 40 years or so.   Is that too long?  I’m not sure.

So, what do  you think, dear reader?  (Go here to read the full article.  It’s well worth the 20 minutes.)



PopeWatch: Scapegoat

Remember this from the August 31, 2018 PopeWatch:


What is the cornered Pope Francis going to do? PopeWatch suspects he will follow the lead of some Roman Emperors who, facing an angry populace, would behead an unpopular advisor and throw his head to the angry mob. So he needs a scapegoat. PopeWatch has heard that Cardinal Wuehl has been summoned to Rome. Better start practicing your goat walk your Eminence.


Cardinal Donald Wuerl told his priests in a letter Tuesday that he will travel to Rome “very soon” to discuss his resignation with Pope Francis.

Go here to read the rest.  Hey Cardinal Tobin, better tell “Baby” not to make any long term plans.  Pope Francis is going down, and he is going to be taking plenty of people with him.



PopeWatch: Predictions

What is the cornered Pope Francis going to do?  PopeWatch suspects he will follow the lead of some Roman Emperors who, facing an angry populace, would behead an unpopular advisor and throw his head to the angry mob.  So he needs a scapegoat.  PopeWatch has heard that Cardinal Wuehl has been summoned to Rome.  Better start practicing your goat walk your Eminence.  Put your predictions in the combox.


PopeWatch: Burke Out, Wuerl In



If it wasn’t already clear the way the wind was blowing from the Vatican, the dumping of Cardinal Burke from the Congregation of Bishops this week was yet another indication:

Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has been bumped from the influential Congregation of Bishops — a post that gave him say in the selection of bishops.

Some observers of the Roman Catholic Church said the move by Pope Francis is yet another example of his effort to tone down highly publicized stances on divisive social issues such as gay marriage, contraception and abortion, on which Burke has made strong remarks.

The announcement came Monday from the Vatican as Francis reorganizes the Congregation, which has considerable power because it recommends bishop candidates to the pope when vacancies occur. New bishops shepherd their local flocks, but some of them will be promoted down the road to high-profile church leadership positions.

Also gone from the Congregation is another former archbishop from St. Louis, Justin Rigali — though that action was anticipated, because Rigali recently stepped down as archbishop in Philadelphia.

Asked for comment, the St. Louis Archdiocese issued a statement that said: “Although the tangible impact of the Congregation of Bishops to the local Archdiocese of St. Louis, as it relates to Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Rigali’s membership, is difficult to measure, it is without question that the spiritual fruits of their labor will be felt for many years to come throughout our universal Church.”

Catholic news reports have drawn contrasts between Francis and what many regard as the more conservative Burke.

Even so, Burke will retain his position as president of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court.

On the same day, Francis named Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who heads the Washington archdiocese, to the Congregation of Bishops, making him the only new member named from the United States.

National Catholic Reporter journalist John Allen said in an email that the “face-value reading” of the changes was that Francis wants more moderate bishops, fewer who are “heavily invested in culture wars.”

Even outside of Catholic bubbles, Burke became well known in 2004 when he said he would deny Communion — what Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ — to then-presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry for his stance on abortion.

Burke also dug in his heels over the control of finances at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, a Polish congregation in St. Louis, in a saga played up in national and international headlines.

More recently, Burke, in a radio report, seemed to disagree with Francis’ comments that Catholic dialogue has been too narrow.

“One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media,” Burke said in the report, “that (Pope Francis) thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman. But we can never talk enough about that.”

In September, Francis said: “We have to find a new balance. Otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” Continue Reading