Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Clerical Slug Trails DEMAND Cleansing Blue Fire...,

WaPo  |  In the wake of a summer of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, topped this weekend with an explosive letter alleging that Pope Francis himself covered for an abusive cardinal, American Catholics are agitating for major changes in their church.

Perhaps for the first time, Catholics of all political stripes who protected their hierarchy through what had once seemed the worst of the sexual abuse crisis are training their ire on it. They are calling publicly for bishop resignations, Robert S. Mueller-like investigations, and boycotts of Mass and donations. Even the biggest fans of Francis and his reformist agenda are now questioning whether he is actually part of the problem.

“This is a different reaction from the laity than I’ve ever seen before,” said Adrienne Alexander, the founder of a nascent national movement called Catholics for Action that has staged protests in seven cities in the past two weeks, with more planned in the coming days. “Regular old church folks in the pews are saying: This bishop has to go. Or: All bishops have to go. That’s just something I’ve never seen from the laity.”

And with the biting 11-page letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò on Saturday, in which the former Vatican diplomat to Washington called for Francis’s resignation, some Catholics are voicing despair about the path forward.

“The hope of reform on this issue: If it can’t be achieved under Pope Francis, who can it be achieved under?” asked Christopher Jolly Hale, who helped lead Catholic outreach for President Obama and has until recently been a prominent supporter of Francis. He added: “No one with good conscience can really defend him with his record on sexual abuse. It’s been an absolute disappointment.”

Viganò’s inflammatory yet unverified letter alleges that Francis’s predecessor Pope Benedict XVI secretly sanctioned former cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick for sexually harassing young priests and seminarians, but Francis let the sanctions slide. He also obliquely implicated D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl in covering up the behavior of McCarrick, who last month became the first cardinal in history to resign as a result of sexual abuse allegations.

The letter “shoots the lack of trust right up the ladder,” said Joseph Capizzi, a professor of moral theology at the Catholic University of America. “As a lay person, and I think I speak for a lot of people, we no longer trust these men anymore.”