Whether Pope Francis is guilty or innocent of a coverup on behalf of a criminal clergy, it is a grave injustice to the victims of those crimes that he now gives no valid response to the charges he has been questioned about concerning the Vigano letter.
A Guilty Person Evades
It’s natural to think that a guilty, unremorseful person would want to evade discovery until the last possible moment. A tactic of silence or obscuring the matter at hand with unclear responses would tend to dismiss concern for the victims altogether. The guilty might conceivably throw suspicions in another direction entirely. A maneuver like this makes sense in the case of someone too fearful to face the consequences of his actions, or lack thereof. Such a person, in my view, would have an extremely frail conscience. Questions concerning sincerity would necessarily arise. If indeed, Pope Francis’ lack of response is to hide guilt, a serious absence of genuineness overshadows his entire papacy, especially toward those very ones he has always spoken up for, defended, reached out to.
If the Pope is Innocent
If, on the other hand, the Pope is completely innocent of any wrongdoing, refraining from giving a valid response to accusations against him by Vigano is a virtual slap in the face to victims he purports to care so much about. They, more than anyone else, need the reassurance immediately, from Pope Francis’ own lips, that he had no part whatever in the coverup of McCarrick’s or any other clergies’ crimes.
Once affirming his innocence, he could have stood ready to prove it, trusting in God as he ought, as proceedings took place, being a true guide and holy example to his flock of courage and conviction. But the way Pope Francis has conducted himself in this confrontation with a crisis, in my estimation, shows lack of character, especially for someone in his eminent position, as head of more than one billion worldwide, and a great influence on the rest of the planet as well.
Supposing, once more, that the Pope was indeed guilty of a coverup, would not, at the very least, an apology be due, a cry for mercy from those so mercilessly wronged? What would be in it for him? The grace of saving humility embedded in an admission of guilt, would not exonerate him certainly, but it would surely bring with it God’s own mercy upon him, a clearing of conscience, and quite probably, a quicker reunification, cleansing, and healing of the Church from within.
Most importantly, such a cry for forgiveness from the chief shepherd would be at last a sign to the victims of clerical abuse that someone is willing to take the rap for the grave injustices they were forced to endure. The way of Christ would finally be shown in this matter, an example to take up in turn for every clerical offender on behalf of those wounded and finally submit to a just penalty for their crimes. To be Church is to be Christ; to be Christ is to be love, and as St. John Paul II said, quite correctly, “Love is sacrifice”. Even in the profound brokenness of acknowledging one’s guilt, one can stand tall in one’s own sacrificial offering of genuine remorse and humility, when it is united with Christ in the brokenness He endured for all our sordid offenses.
Again, if innocence surrounds the Pope, and he refuses to voice that, he wrongs his innocent shepherds (for all are potentially under fire in this tragic ordeal), deprived of the goodness, strength, hope and support, only a virtuous leader of courageous moral character can impart, even when under attack. He also wrongs his entire flock by betraying truth and the demands of standing by it, putting one’s full faith in the God one has vowed to give his life for.
What of the Victims
what of the victims incurably damaged . . .
in need of a word of hope and healing . . .
in need of hearing a word of outrage from their Pontiff . . .
in need of being taken into account . . .
in need of truly being loved and held in dignity as they should always have been . . .
in need of an innocent leader intent on and able to impart all these things to them most of all . . .
what of the victims in this horrific silence?
A grave injustice of silence feeds the fears of self-preservation at the expense always of true victims. What facilitates, urges, motivates our non-clarifying, non-responsive pope? Whether his innocence or his guilt is behind it all, I certainly cannot say. Whatever is the truth, I am personally left with the sad conclusion that the Church’s victims play no part in the pope’s present dubious handling of the disastrous situation laid before him. Perhaps anyone reading this could offer up special prayers for those victims, and for Pope Francis and our Church, especially today if you have not thought to do it already.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confessionFor we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. (Hebrews 4: 14-16)