“Because the story of Theodore McCarrick isn’t just a story about sexual abuse. It’s about institutions and power.”
—Jonathan Last, The American Standard, 15 Sept. 2018.
There is a fine article in The American Standard by Jonathan Last giving a long view on the current crisis in the Church. He gives a good summary of what has gone on before and, most importantly, puts it all in a context of who has power in the Church and what that signifies.
“The institutional damage is done not by the abusers but by the structures that cover for them, excuse them, and advance them. Viewed in that way, the damage done to the Catholic church by Cardinal Wuerl—and every other bishop who knew about McCarrick and stayed silent—is several orders of magnitude greater than that done by McCarrick himself.”
As Last points out, the Pope has absolute authority as a moral judge; he can ignore immorality or he can deal with it.
The Catholic church is unlike any other earthly institution. It is strictly hierarchical, with its ultimate power derived from the son of God. The head of the church—the successor of Peter—is elected to a lifetime appointment by his peers, and his authority over them is total. He can allow them to carry on sexual affairs in broad daylight, as Francis did with Father Krzysztof Charamsa, a priest who worked for years in the Vatican curia while living openly with his gay lover. Or he can drive them from the church, as Francis did with Father Charamsa after the priest made his situation public in the Italian media in 2015. He can make either of these choices—or any choice in between—for any reason he likes. Or none at all. Such is the supreme power of the vicar of Christ.”
Last goes on to talk about how a cabal of four “progressive” cardinals acted to get Bergoglio elected Pope, and the consequences of this. He then projects four possible scenarios for the future:
- Francis could resign;
- Catholics could resign themselves to the moral mess to which some of the hierarchy has led us;
- A low probability option is schism;
- Finally, Catholics could resist the changes the liberal hierarchy is trying to install (a la the liberal resistance to Trump?)
And how would this resistance be carried out? One weapon Last suggests is to
“..starve bishops such as Wuerl, Cupich, and Tobin of funds. Not a dime for any church in any diocese headed by a bishop who refuses to root out abusers and their enablers.”
And resistance plus organization might work …in another 40 years or so. Is that too long? I’m not sure.
So, what do you think, dear reader? (Go here to read the full article. It’s well worth the 20 minutes.)