NEWS: December 26, 2002
Bird’s Eye View of the News
Atila Sinke Guimarães
A BAD ARGUMENT – On the topic of sexual abuse by priests, America magazine published an editorial (December 16, 2002, p. 3) that indirectly responded to the recent statement by Bishop Gregory, head of the USCCB (see statement/comments). In it Bishop Gregory attributed the wave of indignation over the ecclesiastical cover-up of the sexual abuse of minors to a mysterious “conspiracy” of progressivist forces. According to Gregory, these bad-spirited troublemakers would be trying to implant democracy by increasing the role of the lay people in the final decision making process of the Church. In an oblique response, the Jesuit magazine simply quoted a text of Vatican II teaching precisely the same principle Gregory attributed to furtive plotters. Here is the conciliar text America quoted:
“To the extent of their knowledge, competence or authority, the laity are entitled, and sometimes duty-bound, to express their opinions on the matters concerning the good of the Church.”
In this particular instance I agree with the reply of America. I could also quote the Code of Canon Law, article 212, §3, which says precisely the same. In my study of Vatican II, I found that the conciliar documents established a strong base for the egalitarian revolution that the Council initiated in the Church. In effect, it aimed
If you need documents to prove these three points, please check chapter IV of my book Animus Delendi I.
- to destroy the Papal monarchy by arguing that Bishops should share the supreme power of the Church with the Pope: the so-called collegiality;
- to destroy the individual authority of the Bishops by overstressing the role of the Bishops’ conferences;
- to destroy the authority of the priests by implanting a direct democracy in the parishes and transforming the priest into a mere president of the assembly.
Therefore, the “sinister conspiracy” pointed out by Bishop Gregory was reduced to nothing more than the implementation of the official norms of Vatican II, which since the Council have been carried out by the Popes, the Holy See and the Bishops all around the world. Gregory really needs to find a better argument to deviate the just popular indignation away from the guilty Bishops.
STORNI IN THE STORM – Last September, Archbishop Edgardo Storni of Santa Fé, Argentine, offered his resignation to John Paul II. After a certain time the Vatican announced that the Pontiff had accepted it under the terms of the new Code of Canon Law, article 401, §2, which indicates that a Bishop should resign if he “becomes unsuited for the fulfillment of his office.”
Archbishop Storni had been investigated in the 1990s after an earlier spate of sex-abuse allegations. Last August he became the center of a controversy when a book was published that charged him with involvement in sexual assaults on seminarians in his Diocese. Those charges prompted a new judicial investigation that led to his resignation. At age 66, Storni was still nine years away from mandatory retirement. He became the most prominent Prelate in Latin America to resign after sexual allegations (The Catholic World Report, November 2002, p. 17). Even though Storni claimed to be innocent, I have observed that only Bishops who were guilty have had their resignations accepted by the Pope in order to avoid further sexual scandals. The ones who come to mind are Cardinal Gröer in Vienna (Austria) in 1995, Archbishop Weakland of Milwaukee, 2002, and two Bishops in Florida, K. Symons in 1998 and O’Connell in 2002.
“TOO LATE” – “We have been slow in realizing the depths of the victims’ trauma and their demands. Neither Canon Law nor the structures of the Church were prepared to face the core of the problem we have to face, nor have we in the past responded with the rapidity and efficiency that was necessary.” This is the nucleus of the statement by the Primate of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell regarding the problem of sexual abuses made by priests in his country. In the letter issued October 6, Connell recognized the failure of both himself and the Church “to resolve the problem properly” and asked forgiveness from the victims and their families “for the terrible betrayal they suffered.” The Cardinal also stated his intention to collaborate with the Irish authorities in all denunciations.
Some days after, however, a documentary on pedophilia in the Diocese of Dublin was broadcast by RTF, the Irish national TV. It revealed that the Dublin Archdiocese was facing more than 450 lawsuits as a result of child sexual abuse by clergy.
In it the Cardinal was accused of acknowledging abuses but saying nothing to the police or the parents of the victims. In many cases, the Prelate did nothing but transfer the accused to other areas. These revelations spread a shadow of suspicion over the bona fide of the Cardinal’s letter. By the way, the letter was not well received, as was seen by the booing and shouting of the faithful at its reading. “It is too late!” they cried out angrily to the Cardinal’s face.
Bruce Springsteen offering "Christian symbols" to the youth... - LA Times, December 8, 2002
The civil government has taken up the investigation. Prime Minister Bertie Ahern stated in parliament that the investigation would not spare the top ranking ecclesiastical authorities (Adista, November 4, 2002, p.14).
TRUST FALLS RADICALLY – A year ago, 90 percent of adults in the United States felt that they could generally trust the Clergy to tell the truth. This has fallen 26 points to 64 percent. Last year, the Clergy were at the top of a list of 17 occupations whose members could be trusted. Today they rank below teachers, doctors, professors, police officers and scientists (America, December 16, 2002, p. 5).
JESUIT ROCK – Fifteen pages praising a hard-rock CD by Bruce Springsteen. This is what one can find in an editorial piece in the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica (October 5, 2002). The article opens with enthused homage to “The Boss” and the songs on the album “The Rising.” The editorial states: “It doesn’t matter if he [Springsteen] is not a believer. The fact is that he offers adolescents in crisis a language and symbols that are Christian.” The article also qualifies “The Rising” as “a prayer that explodes.” It bases such comments on letters and speeches by John Paul II, which are quoted in the footnotes (Actualité des Religions, December 2002, p. 7). In fact several times JP II has shown his approval for rock and even danced to it. It is worthwhile to remind readers that each issue of La Civiltà Cattolica is reviewed before going to press by the Vatican Secretariat of State…
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