[UPDATE] Pope Francis: Letter to the People of God [Incisive commentary: Bishops lavender mafia escapes again]

pope francis asperges

[See the comments in red which follow below in order to see what a farce this is both in text and at the end.]

Pope Francis has responded to new reports of clerical sexual abuse and the ecclesial cover-up of abuse. In an impassioned letter addressed to the whole People of God, he calls on the Church to be close to victims in solidarity, and to join in acts of prayer and fasting in penance for such “atrocities”.

Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis: To the People of God

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons [What about the bishops?]. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated [What bishops have done and continue to do.]. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults. [At least there is mention of minors instead of pedophilia. This was always and almost exclusively a homosexual crisis. This is not admitted here, and I think that such an omission tells us just how lacking in seriousness this all is. There is a mafia-like protection of homosexual bullies. Why is that? Why was this kind of document prepared for Pope Francis to sign. This letter is so cynical, and laughs at the real victims of abuse once again.]

1. If one member suffers…

In recent days, a report [from the Grand Jury in Pennsylvania] was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. [So, in other words, even though there is by definition zero due process that happens with a Grand Jury, even though priests were forbidden[!] to defend themselves, even though no trial is possible (thus making this felonious conduct for the judge), ALL priests are held to be guilty based on accusations going back more than a lifetime so that accusations are evidence. In other words, mere accusation is held to be absolute proof of guilt. And huge amounts of money change hands. That’s the definition of abuse of power. So, what’s this all about except to make bishops look like tough heroes. Self-absorbed. Promethean. Neo-Pelagian. Creative of the darkest of existential peripheries.] Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the [alleged] victims. We have realized that these [alleged] wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these [alleged] atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these [alleged] wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching [alleged] pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands. [Don’t think our Lord Jesus is unconcerned about a total lack of due process. He Himself was falsely accused. Those who trash due process in hopes of being heroes are not those held to be heroes by Mary Immaculate’s Son Jesus.] Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite. [In that case, promote due process. Otherwise this is all hypocrisy, total hypocrisy cynically using the sufferings of real victims to promote instead one’s own heroism for being tough by denying due process.]

With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed:

“How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood [and the episcopacy?], ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

2. … all suffer together with it

The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. [I don’t for a second believe it until the past lack of due process for the sake of episcopal self-hero worship is confessed and a promise for due process is made and brought about.] And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165). Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). [And is any of that directed at the bishops? No? Really?]

I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children [this reference to “children” is edging on the pedophilia references around the world which are used to cover up the homosexual crisis. Relatively speaking, there’s no there there for pedophilia. This is about bully homosexuals. NO ONE will admit that. Why is that? I note that the Pennsylvania fake news thing comes on the heals of the McCarrick fiasco, because that referenced homosexuality and no one wants to mention that…] and of vulnerable adults [I’m thinking of a case involving a past chairman of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, but that’s not mentioned, is it? No. I guess that guy would be friends of certain people in Rome…], as well as implementing zero tolerance [with no due process] and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable [chancery rats? Still no mention of bishops]. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future. [Due process would stop the whole thing in its tracks. It’s true. No one permits due process. Why is that?]

Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49). To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.[1] This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.

It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.[2] This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”.[3] Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism. [Note how bishops have escaped once again. It’s those priests! As Bill Donohue points out this past two years, the average for abuse by priests is… is… 0.005%. Meanwhile, pretty much all bishops have been in cover-up mode or in no provision of due process mode, a terrible abuse of power.]

It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6). Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within. Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change. The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel. For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11). [Try due process. This isn’t hard. What’s with all these fluffy obfuscations? It’s simple: DUE PROCESS.]

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable [“mission of watching over”: like what, the mission of teachers? Bishops escape again.]. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.

Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. [So, there it is, the distinction of children from young people. So this is about perpetuating the fake pedophilia narrative instead of admitting that this is about a homosexual crisis.]. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. [No mention of due process.] A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience. [On abuse of conscience, even innocent priests were sent to treatment centers for mere accusations and had their genitals hooked up to electrical sensors to see what arousal level they would experience with different kinds of porn, including child porn, which is all sinful and in the case of child porn a felony. This was countenanced by bishops and by the Holy See. Priests are given an ultimatum: “Go to the treatment center run by people who have done this to priests, or be dismissed from the clerical state.” Yep. If anyone ever tried to do that to me they wouldn’t live to tell the story. Yes, that is a threat. I don’t countenance rape. And that is what the bishops were doing to their priests all these years. This isn’t about protecting kids. This is all about homosexual sex. Really. I bet it was all filmed, and watched.]

In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319). She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.

May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them. [I would be careful about claiming Jesus and Mary and the Holy Spirit as backers when what is said leaves out, say, let me think…. due process.]

Vatican City, 20 August 2018

=== My own comments follow on what a farce this is. ===

[What follows are my original comments:] I note that priests and religious are pointed out repeatedly, but when it comes to mentioning the bishops, which is what this is all about, we hear only euphemisms such as the mention of “all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable,” which phrase can also refer to, say, teachers. Sorry, but this whole thing is a smokescreen. It’s BS. Just to say, it’s nice to cite that bit from the famous Stations of Cross of Cardinal Ratzinger (at which I was present), but that also refers to the priests, but to the bishops, not so much.

I also note that there is absolutely zero mention of any due process, which tells me that the self-hero worship of the bishops, their abuse of power, will continue. To date, upon any accusation a settlement is made by the diocese over against any priest to the accuser. There has been no due process. Accusation equals proof to date. That’s all absurd. It’s only about what great heroes the bishops are and continue to be regardless of how unjust they’ve been. This was obviously written by someone like O’Malley and perhaps reps of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group.

Here’s the deal: the abuse of power that can abuse kids is the same abuse of power which can hush things up, which is the same abuse of power which can transfer problems around, which is the same abuse of power which, when found out, can all of a sudden make accusation into proof of guilt, and therefore make immediate settlements without the knowledge of the accused, and which can claim heroism by “taking a hard line,” when all the while what this abuse of power does is simply start the cycle again. How’s that you ask? Glad you asked. Here we go:

When bishops are in full abuse of power, self-congratulatory, “I’m a hero!” mode, will they not do anything to protect, say, a good record, so that, say, in a diocese where no abuse accusation has come about since 2002, and where perception is held to be everything, will not the bishop be tempted to hush things up, to transfer problems, to make accusations into proof, to pay settlements to make due process impossible, to make themselves look like heroes taking a hard line? Yes. Abuse of power of any kind, lack of justice and due process of any kind only promotes more abuse.

This letter written for Pope Francis to sign is already well on it’s way to keep the bishops protected at all costs.

Moreover, the Pennsylvania thing has been utterly debunked. Thus, this letter written for Pope Francis is a last ditch effort to take the spotlight, if you will, off the bishops and but it back on priests. But as Bill Donohue points out, the rate of accusations over the last two years against priests is 0.005%. Compare that to any other public school or group or whatever. There is no comparison. There’s no there there. This is about the bishops, but this letter has skirted that totally, hiding behind Pope Francis. For shame.



Filed under Abuse, Pope Francis

20 responses to “[UPDATE] Pope Francis: Letter to the People of God [Incisive commentary: Bishops lavender mafia escapes again]

  1. James Brigham (Bigg) Bunyon

    Really? They have to be told? These are the teachers and the representatives of God Himself on Earth and they have to be singled out and told what’s not Godly? That preaching to a dog about how to be a dog. Isn’t it sort of implied in their “training” they shouldn’t abuse children? I think Jesus has something to say about that. Oh well, business as usual for the Cult of the Red Beanie.

  2. Father George David Byers

    Thanks for that. Interesting.

  3. nancyv

    Wow. You wrote it right Father.
    I wrote our bishop, indicating my support for the Church and holy priests and included the article by Anthony Esolen “Enough Already”.

  4. elizdelphi

    I was also seriously disappointed that homosexual predation or network was not even alluded to. It’s so wordy and emptily “eloquent” to actually be the writing of Pope Francis, I immediately wondered if it might be the work of his favorite ghostwriter, the “art of the kiss” fellow.

  5. Susan

    Thanks for this. I was gnashing my teeth the whole time I read it, but certainly agree with all you’ve said. Our homily yesterday was pretty much this letter verbatim. I was frustrated then, I’m frustrated now. I will continually remind myself one cannot hide from the gaze of God. He sees all. Since they refuse to acknowledge the truth even after all these years, it’s scary to think what it will be like trying to excuse or explain themselves to the Father, when their time comes. Just saying.
    The older I get, the closer that moment comes for myself, and the more I keep that in mind. Do they not have similar thoughts?

  6. Rory O'Callaghan

    Good to see you’re keeping a beady eye on this George! I’m no expert but I was thinking it couldn’t all be taken at face value.

  7. sanfelipe007

    Thank you for the link, northernhermit. Great caution is in order in picking a lay Commission. Lord, please, no Theologians, Lawyers, doctors or professionals of any kind. No recognized leaders of any organization. Instead, put out a call to married couples with children, grandparents, and survivors of abuse. Then trust in the Holy Spirit to provide guidance. God often chooses the small over the great.

    Who are we kidding? The USCCB is not going to give a lay Commission plenary power.

  8. Aussie Mum

    Shouldn’t corrupt bishops, seminary heads etc be under investigation by the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, or can’t this body be trusted now that Cardinal Burke is no longer its prefect?

  9. I was fully on board with your essay, Father, until I reached this point: “It’s those priests! As Bill Donohue points out this past two years, the average for abuse by priests is… is… 0.005%.”

    I won’t digress much into the credibility of Bill Donohue, who has burned whatever tiny shreds of integrity he had this week, though I am more surprised to see you quoting him, given that there is no greater bully boy for bishop PR and power than Bill Dononue; there’s more value in this question of abuse rates, and the concomitant question of the rate of clerical sexual continence, especially to the degree that it is homosexual sexual activity.

    Richard Sipe estimated that the rate of abuse in the U.S. was about 6%. Sipe of course had his own divergences from Church teaching, and his analysis was skewed at points by his beliefs and the crusade nature of his battle against clerical sex abuse and coverup; but for at least the period in question (ca. 1960-1990), the evidence, such as we have now from Pennsylvania (300 clergy?!?!), suggests, sadly, that he was closer to the mark than Bill Donohue is. Today, in 2018, post-Dallas, the rate is surely lower *now*; for all of its flaws (especially in, as you observe, the lack of due process for priests), it *does* seem to have considerably reduced the incidence of sexual abuse of minors, if not episcopal cover-up of past incidence. This is not 1975, after all.

    The greater problem, and one on which I think we agree, is the rampant failure of continence among a wide swath of American clergy, nearly all of which is, on all evidence, homosexual in nature, and THAT rate is certainly much, much higher, especially in certain dioceses of notorious repute. And it is this sexual activity (which includes more bishops than most of us would have believed) which has made possible so much of the present scandal, and greatly aggravated it. Perhaps it’s not as high in aggregate as Sipe’s 50% mark; but certainly well into double digits.

    And it is a great shame, since there remain so many faithful, continent, and even holy priests, who will be tarred with this brush, not only be a secular world which believes celibacy and chastity to be actively harmful, but even by their bishops, who too often act like liability managers rather than shepherds and fathers.

    • Father George David Byers

      Well I must say I don’t follow Bill or much of any news. I knew that quote from a friend. We really need priests to go to confession. We need believers. Chastity is essential. I’ll have to put that series up again.

      • And in addition to that, we really do need quite a few bishops to be removed from their positions and facing the full gamut of canonical and civil justice as necessary.

        And, hopefully, men to replace them who actually believe the Creed, and are able to live according to it to the end of the salvation of souls.

      • Father George David Byers


      • Indeed!

        One more note on the incidence of clerical abuse. There are a number of reasons why a lot of worthy Catholics (lay and clerical) are especially outraged at Bill Donohue this week, but in no small part because of the diversion he makes (which of course is only for the benefit of the bishops, whose solicitude enables his livelihood) of the fact that today, in 2018, the incidence of abuse reports really is quite low. The problem is, in the second half of the 20th century, that was clearly *not* the case – and far too many of the prelates who covered it up, enabled it, and legally persecuted victims remain in power…such as, well, the present ordinary of Washington, D.C.. I didn’t have time (and still do not) to dig up the statistics I was looking for when I wrote my comment above, but Nicholas Frankovich at National Review today has a fair summary:

        “The authors of the John Jay Report estimated that 4.3 percent of U.S. Catholic priests from 1950 to 2002 had been accused of sexually abusing minors. [Journalist Walter] Robinson at the [Boston] Globe says that the figure in the Boston archdiocese during approximately the same period was 10.75 percent. That’s 249 priests, in a diocese whose current Catholic population is about 1.9 million. The current Catholic population of the Diocese of Pittsburgh is about 800,000, and 99 of its priests, according to the grand-jury report in Pennsylvania, have been accused, although a few of the cases predate 1950. From a quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation, it appears that Pittsburgh priests in the second half of the 20th century abused minors at about the same, appalling rate that their Boston counterparts did.”

        Link: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/no-longer-able-to-inhabit-many-of-the-edifices-she-built-in-prosperity/

        What’s worse, as Frankovich notes, is that there is no particular reason to think that . . . either Pennsylvania or Boston were statistical outliers in that period. And with more state attorneys general gearing up to hold their own grand jury investigations, we may be about to confirm that suspicion in gory detail.

        And it is a pity because the reality is, children are likely safer around a typical Catholic priest today than has been the case for nearly a century, and not just because of better procedures. But we – and especially priests – are going to be paying for the sins of the past for a while to come.

  10. Aussie Mum

    Since “Bishops are judged by the Holy Father, though there is a commission of sorts”, I assume that commission is drawn from clerical, not lay, ranks?

    • Father George David Byers

      I don’t know much about it. It sounds like Pope Francis may legislate anew. Perhaps as early as this week.

  11. 125gardener

    The wagons of the unchaste will circle at the Vatican, as if a sort of due process such as with McCarrick and Law.

  12. Aussie Mum

    The devil and his agents, some in powerful Church positions it seems, want to destroy the priesthood, which makes sense, since only priests act in Persona Christi. If the priesthood could be destroyed, Christ would have died on the Cross for nothing and salvation history would be thwarted, since then there would be no Sacrament of Penance to forgive sins and no Eucharist, “the source and summit of Christian life”. And even if the devil and his well placed agents can only succeed in vilifying the priesthood, the flock will scatter. Hence, we mustn’t panic when the world (grand juries, the media etc) tells us our Churchmen are corrupt, even when a letter signed by the pope points the finger at our priests as deviants. Instead, we need to stand by our good priests. The Church will be righted by their steadfastness. It is from their number that good bishops and good government of the Church will come.

  13. On November 30, 2016, Pennsylvania’s Democrat governor (Wolf) announced the awarding of “It’s On Us PA” grants of one million dollars to 36 post-secondary schools in the state to combat sexual violence on their campuses. Programs considered for funding included but were not limited to those that enhanced awareness of available resources as well as the rights of students and, most importantly, to increase mechanisms for anonymous reporting. Do you think the powerful teachers unions (secretly, and they are major founders of DNC) might have balked at their members being investigated, fearing a witch hunt? Do you think the PA AG might have found a politically advantageous scapegoat in the Catholic Church? Do you think those “anonymous reporters” might be an organized lobby continuing their efforts against that same Church? This latest scandal stinks of politics, IMHO. I’m not saying all in the Church are innocent, I am wondering what prompted this investigation.

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