Saturday, February 14, 2015

Where are they now?

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors held its first full plenary session in Rome last week under the direction of Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley. They told journalists at a briefing on Saturday they were formulating suggestions for how Pope Francis should make bishops accountable for implementing protection guidelines. As expected, certain survivors’ groups and other critics of the Vatican dismissed this as yet more empty words. That’s unfortunate. But it’s also understandable, especially given the Vatican’s lack of transparency when it comes to dealing with such bishops. The head of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, offered a rare public display (at least for him) of how defensive church officials can be when pressed for more openness. Visibly irritated, he snapped back at an Italian TV journalist who attempted to ask why there was a delay in the trial of Jozef Wesolowski, the defrocked bishop and former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic who has been charged with sexual abuse of young boys. “It has nothing to do [with this briefing],” the priest said curtly. When she pressed him an aide took the microphone from her and Fr. Lombardi said, “Enough! Let’s move on.” This, too, was unfortunate. The Holy See has publicly dealt with at least four bishops for either committing abuse or trying to cover it up. But there has been no transparency regarding their whereabouts or their status. In addition to Wesolowski, there is also Belgian Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who “resigned” in 2010 after admitting to molesting his young nephews. Where is he now? Has he been laicized? The Vatican has not said. Then there is Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who also “resigned,” just before the conclave of 2013 after being accused of sexual harassment by a number of seminarians and priests. Where is he? The Vatican will not say. And, of course, there’s the case of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, who was given a two-year suspended sentence after being criminally convicted for failing to report sexual abuse of minors. The Vatican supposedly carried out an investigation last September and two months later in a TV interview Cardinal O’Malley had this to say about the Finn case: “It’s a question the Holy See must address urgently.” Is it cynical to wonder what in the world transparency and urgency mean in the Vatican?


  1. Those tactics are reminiscent of the other One True Church, the LDS. Truth is dispensable when it inconveniences or undermines hierarchical authority, or when it might sully the public image of the institution.

    The LDS "church" has gone to well-documented lengths that rival yarns spun by the wildest-eyed tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists in an effort to suppress, stifle, and bury inconvenient facts of their history including polygamy and race to name just two

  2. It is nice to see that the One True Church® is finally getting around to formulating suggestions on how to make bishops accountable for implementing protection guidelines with respect to the protection of minors. Let that roll around in your mind for a second. The Church that Christ allegedly founded 2000 years ago is now on the cusp of formulating suggestions on how to make bishops accountable for implementing protection guidelines.

    Wow!! One can only speculate on the joyful and jubilant reaction of Catholics many generations hence who will hopefully have guidelines which may actually be "enforced". Let us pray.