LGBTQ Magazine

Spotlight on Vatican Now Becomes Spotlight on Francis: A Footnote Re: Betty Clermont's Recent Essay on Francis and Abuse Crisis

Posted on the 22 January 2014 by William Lindsey @wdlindsy
Spotlight on Vatican Now Becomes Spotlight on Francis: A Footnote re: Betty Clermont's Recent Essay on Francis and Abuse Crisis
As a footnote to my earlier posting today noting that the spotlight that recently shone on the Vatican at the UN hearing is now on Pope Francis himself, a reader has pointed me to Betty Clermont's recent posting at Open Tabernacle about Francis's handling of the sex abuse crisis. As with everything Betty writes, it's exhaustively researched and insightful. 
Betty's conclusion about what we can now expect from Francis:
Pope Francis is washing his hands of any responsibility for whatever happens outside his city state or those on his immediate payroll. "On the level of the Holy See, as the Sovereign of Vatican City State, the response to sexual abuse has been in accord with its direct responsibility over the territory of Vatican City State," stated Tomasi. "Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican….They are citizens of their own state and fall under the jurisdiction of that state." Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said in a statement on Jan. 16. Questions posed by the U.N. committee and others “seem to presuppose that bishops and religious superiors act as representatives or delegates of the pope, something which is without foundation."

Betty ends by citing Richard Sipe's observations last fall regarding the culture of narcissistic corruption and colossal abuse of power inside the clerical system from which the abuse of children emanates:
Only willful blindness and pathological denial can allow one to overlook the reality that the symptom of clerical abuse reveals a Roman Catholic Church as dysfunctional and corrupt sexually and financially as during the time of the Protestant Reformation." A. W. Richard Sipe, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, former Benedictine monk and priest, and recognized authority on celibacy and priest sex abuse. August 30, 2013.

Corruption in the area of sexuality and finances: following the lead of astute observers of Francis's behavior vis-a-vis the abuse crisis and of Vatican politics--of people like Betty Clermont, Richard Sipe, and Jerry Slevin--I have a strong inkling that we're going to see more and more media campaigns break out as the canonization of John Paul II approaches which try to rehabilitate rumors that the abuse situation is the result of gay cabals in the priesthood, and that gay folks are inherently untrustworthy, deceitful, and the source of all corruption to be found in the church.
As Jerry Slevin has repeatedly noted in essays at his Christian Catholicism site, Vatican political (and media) strategists are hinging a great deal on the big spectacle of the canonization of John Paul II (and John XXIII) this spring. As this event approaches, it will be interesting to watch what happens to the Wikipedia entry for John Paul II--how often it is updated and scrubbed in preparation for the canonization in April, and who's doing the updating and scrubbing. 
You can see the updates and who's supplying them by clicking on the "revision history" for John Paul II's Wikipedia entry. Unless I'm very much mistaken, some of those contributing many recent revisions to the Wikipedia biography of John Paul are, interestingly enough, in the employ of right-wing think tanks in the U.S.--and if that's correct, then one has to wonder what's the interest of right-wing think tanks in policing biographical sites about John Paul II as he's about to be canonized?
Here's a very interesting tidbit from the Wikipedia entry--this is how the Wikipedia entry prefaces its discussion of John Paul's response to the abuse crisis, which almost all judicious observers conclude was botched at best and non-existent at worst:
John Paul II was also criticised for failing to respond quickly enough to the sex abuse crisis. In his response, he stated that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young". The Church instituted reforms to prevent future abuse by requiring background checks for Church employees and, because a significant majority of victims were teenage boys, disallowing ordination of men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies". They now require dioceses faced with an allegation to alert the authorities, conduct an investigation and remove the accused from duty. In 2008, the Church asserted that the scandal was a very serious problem and estimated that it was "probably caused by 'no more than 1 per cent' " (or 5,000) of the over 500,000 Catholic priests worldwide.*

Note what this passage attempts to do in order to deflect attention from John Paul II's truly abysmal record vis-a-vis the abuse crisis: it seeks to keep alive the scapegoating memes that 1) gay men molest children, and 2) the root problem in the abuse crisis has been gays in the priesthood. The passage seeks to frame everything it says about John Paul's (lack of) response to the abuse crisis by establishing these scapegoating memes as its frame!
As a tool to sound and assess the tenor of this Wikipedia discussion of the life of John Paul II, try searching for the phrases "social teaching" or "economic justice." You won't find them anywhere in the article. Search for the word "homosexuality," and you'll find it popping up 9 times; the word "gay" occurs 4 times. Look for "women," and you'll find a plethora of references, many of them assuring us that John Paul just loved women, but, unfortunately, had no authority to ordain women, since the "constant tradition" of the Catholic church denies the possibility of ordination to women. Contraception? Seven mentions.
No social teaching. No economic justice. But homosexuals, women, and contraception? Everywhere in the consciousness of those seeking to interpret John Paul II for us at the Wikipedia site--with a single grudging reference to the "social doctrine" of the church and the fact that John Paul did, in fact, write extensively about that topic, and that he applied the concept of solidarity to the call of all believers in Christ to be in solidarity with workers.
A prediction for 2014: as the media spotlight shines more and more brightly on Pope Francis and his response (or lack thereof) to the abuse crisis, watch for more and more seeing of articles in the media that seek to deflect the conversation to the threat of gays in church and society. And more and more interviews with folks who claim to have insider information about the Vatican and the church which speak of treacherous, corrupt gay cabals running things in the church.
At the same time, look for lots of hoopla and fanfare about John Paul II the Great, whom Benedict XVI and Francis could not rush to the honors the altar quickly enough. All of this--the ugly scapegoating of a targeted minority, the lies about who's responsible for the corruption in the priesthood, the manipulation of the media and of online websites, the diversionary adulation of John Paul II: it's the very essence of corrupt, as the top leaders of the Catholic church continue to stonewall when asked about their responsibility for the abuse crisis and what they intend to do to resolve it and see children protected.
* I've removed footnotes from the preceding passage. If you want to follow them, please see the original.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog