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7:20, 04 September 2018

News Evaluation: Pope Francis Embraces Silence as Calls Develop for Response to Allegations

News Evaluation: Pope Francis Embraces Silence as Calls Develop for Response to Allegations

News Analysis

Pope Francis Embraces Silence as Calls Grow for Response to Allegations

Pope Francis last week at the Vatican.CreditCreditGiulio Origlia/Getty Photos

By Jason Horowitz

ROME &mdash As a clamor builds for Pope Francis to respond to the beautiful allegations by his former ambassador in Washington that he covered up abuse and lied about a meeting with a prominent opponent to same-sex marriage, the pontiff has extolled the virtues of silence.

Speaking in a Monday morning homily at the Vatican, Francis said, &ldquoWith individuals who don&rsquot have very good will, who seek only scandal, who want only division, who seek only destruction &mdash such as inside the family: silence, prayer.&rdquo

He added that &ldquothe truth is humble, the truth is silent&rdquo and concluded with the prayer, &ldquoMay the Lord give us the grace to discern when we need to speak and when we ought to keep silent.&rdquo

So far, Francis has stuck with silence considering that the allegations initial shook the church on Aug. 26.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigan&ograve, the former Vatican ambassador, accused the pope of being aware of about sexual misconduct by an American cardinal, Theodore E. McCarrick, with adult seminarians years ahead of the abuse became public. Archbishop Vigan&ograve also stated that Francis lifted sanctions on the cardinal that he claimed had been imposed by his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Those allegations stay unproven.

On the day of the publication of the bombshell letter containing the allegations, reporters inquired regardless of whether the allegations were correct.

&ldquoI will not say a single word about this,&rdquo Francis stated aboard the papal plane, returning from a trip to Ireland. &ldquoI think the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your personal conclusions. It&rsquos an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I could speak.&rdquo

That moment has clearly not however come, and Benedict and other Vatican officials who may be in possession of the info to clear up the mystery &mdash one way or the other &mdash have followed his lead. The silence has produced it exceedingly tough to draw any conclusions.

But if Francis&rsquo rumination on the dignity of silence was intended to prompt his critics to also hold their tongues, that seemed a prayer unlikely to be answered.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigan&ograve saying Mass in Chicago in 2014.CreditPool photo by Charles Rex Arbogast

Archbishop Vigan&ograve has shown no signs of letting up in his public campaign to force the pope&rsquos resignation, and his conservative allies in the United States and Rome have sounded doubts about the pope from their pulpits, conservative Catholic media outlets and social media platforms.

The pope lamented this typically-hostile ecosystem in April, when he wrote witheringly in an apostolic exhortation about the tone of the discourse in the conservative Catholic blogosphere.

&ldquoChristians, as well, can be caught up in networks of verbal violence by means of the net,&rdquo Francis stated, citing vicious examples of defamation in some Catholic outlets. &ldquoHere we see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze.&rdquo

But it is a conflagration that Francis himself might have facilitated.

Critics argue he has enraged conservatives in the church by disregarding traditions, but also with a leadership style that led one critic to title his book about the Francis papacy, &ldquoThe Dictator Pope.&rdquo

The pope&rsquos supporters instead interpret the open dissent and exceptional broadsides against Francis as a result of frustrated conservatives, unaccustomed to being out of power, coupled with a pope who is prepared to give even his harshest critics significantly far more leeway than his current predecessors.

The notion of the pope as the embodiment of church orthodoxy emerged only in the 19th century, according to Massimo Faggioli, a professor of historical theology at Villanova University and a contributor to liberal Catholic journals.

At the starting of the 20th century, Pope Pius X ordered a purge of Catholic theologians taking a modernist method to teaching the Bible. Smaller sized purges took spot below Pope Pius XII, whose papacy stretched from 1939 to 1958. But it was with the election in 1978 of Pope John Paul II, himself a theologian, that disagreements within the church took on the stigma of unholy dissent.

With Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Benedict XVI, as John Paul II&rsquos doctrinal watchdog, the Vatican actively investigated and silenced theologians with a different vision of the church. When he became pope, Benedict ordered the removal of the editor of a Jesuit journal, America Magazine, simply because it entertained ideas anathema to conservative orthodoxy.

Conversely, Pope Francis, he mentioned, &ldquois not performing anything to stop&rdquo theologians. Mr. Faggioli argued that, as a Jesuit, Francis wants to foster debate so a spirit of discernment can lead individuals to the truth. &ldquoFrancis had encouraged in the church an openness of opinions,&rdquo he stated.


Pope Francis greeting Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, at a multifaith gathering in New York in 2015.CreditJin Lee-Pool/Getty Photos

Some of the pope&rsquos most high-profile critics have created the most of this leniency, at times difficult the very premise of papal authority.

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, an American Vatican official who is the worldwide leader of traditionalists crucial of Francis, was a featured speaker at a Rome event in April about confusion below Francis.

In his speech on the limits of papal authority, Cardinal Burke, an professional in canon law, argued if a pope failed to act in conformity with church revelation, scripture and tradition, his actions &ldquomust be rejected by the faithful.&rdquo Without having especially mentioning Francis, he argued that a pope&rsquos authority was not &ldquomagical, but derives from his obedience to the Lord,&rdquo and that the actions of a &ldquoheretical or sinful&rdquo pope have been &ldquovoid.&rdquo

Archbishop Vigan&ograve sat in one particular of the front rows of the occasion and apparently took that message to heart. Whilst he did not hide in private settings his distaste for Francis and the path in which he was taking the church, his going public against the pope was yet another matter. Folks who have spoken with him in the last few weeks mentioned he did not take the selection lightly.

&ldquoHe is a diplomat who was taught to be silent his entire life,&rdquo mentioned Marco Tosatti, the conservative journalist who helped him draft the letter accusing the pope. &ldquoAnd there was an oath that he broke performing this.&rdquo

But by getting so outspoken, Archbishop Vigan&ograve has also essentially ensured his protection from censure. Punishing the archbishop now would fuel speculation Francis has something to hide.

Rather, Francis has relied on some outspoken American bishops and an army of progressive Catholics on-line to defend him. His most active lieutenant, Rev. Antonio Spadaro, the editor of a Jesuit journal, La Civilt&agrave Cattolica, has in the past accused American conservative Catholic bishops of damaging the church by creating frequent cause with American evangelicals to further political interests.

Considerably of the critique of Archbishop Vigan&ograve has been observed by means of this lens, and the pope&rsquos supporters argue that any response would only give oxygen to critics who are significantly less interested in the truth than in exploiting the sex abuse crisis to slow down Francis and his agenda.

On Sunday, Father Spadaro brought Rev. Federico Lombardi, a former papal spokesman, out of retirement and onto his journal, which is vetted by the Vatican Secretariat of State ahead of publication. Father Lombardi quickly joined the fight, issuing a statement that very same day claiming Archbishop Vigan&ograve had deceived the pope in arranging a private meeting in 2015 with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who became a national icon for opponents of gay marriage.

The pope, however, has remained mum, preferring to let the Gospel do the talking.

&ldquoJesus responds with silence before these &lsquowho wanted to throw him out of the city,&rsquo&rdquo he said during a Mass on Monday, adding that Jesus&rsquo stance reflected a &ldquosilence that triumphs.&rdquo

Associated Coverage

Pope Francis&rsquo Accuser Turns Up the Pressure With More Accusations


Vatican Energy Struggle Bursts Into Open as Conservatives Pounce


Letter Accusing Pope Leaves U.S. Catholics in Conflict


Pope Francis Lengthy Knew of Cardinal&rsquos Abuse and Need to Resign, Archbishop Says


Published at Tue, 04 Sep 2018 00:59:47 +0000

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