By Gene Thomas Gomulka
For years, Catholics never questioned the sexual orientation of priests, bishops, cardinals or even the Pope. Most Catholics assumed their spiritual leaders were heterosexual men who sacrificed having spouses and children to serve Christ and His Church. This misconception was aided by the fact that Church leaders were able to cover up the growing number of homosexual bishops, priests and seminarians often by offering confidential out-of-court settlements to victimized seminarians and young men which covered up the sins of predator priests, bishops and even cardinals like Theodore McCarrick.
One of the most noted U.S. cardinals who helped cover up for sexual abusers was Chicago Cdl. Joseph Bernardin who, like Cdl. McCarrick, was known to prey upon seminarians. In Bernardin's case, one of those seminarians was Steven Cook, who accused Bernardin of abusing him when he was in a high school seminary. While the archdiocese of Chicago maintained that Cook recanted of his accusation before dying of AIDS, Richard Sipe, the noted expert on celibacy and clergy sexual abuse, reported:
Several priests who were associates of Bernardin prior to his move to Chicago revealed that they had "partied" together; they talked about their visits to the Josephinum to socialize with seminarians. It is a fact that Bernardin's accuser did not ever retract his allegations of abuse by anyone's account other than Bernardin's. If, as reported, three million dollars were paid in handling the scandal ... the story ... holds repercussions far beyond Chicago and one allegation.
Gay clerical parties continue to be covered up by Church officials at the very highest levels. When Cdl. Francesco Coccopalmerio was caught at a drug-fueled homosexual party at a Vatican apartment that Pope Francis himself insisted he be given, why did the Pope not discipline the gay cardinal who was whisked away from the gay orgy by Vatican police? Instead of sanctioning Coccopalmerio for his involvement in this scandalous, immoral and illegal drug bash, Pope Francis responded by appointing him to represent the Vatican at the 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
Based on considerable evidence as to how Pope Francis covered up sexual abuse within his archdiocese of Buenos Aires, it should not come as a surprise that shortly after his election he ordered Cdl. Gerhard Müller, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to cease an investigation of Cdl. Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who was a member of a group of cardinals that helped him get elected.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was accused not only of covering up sexual abuse on the part of pedophile priest Fr. Michael Hill, but also of paying hush money to victims of Fr. Hill and making them sign nondisclosure agreements to bar them from making the sex abuse allegations public. The Pope's actions on behalf of Murphy-O'Connor are reminiscent of his attempt to overturn the verdict of Fr. Julio César Grassi who is serving a 15-year sentence in Argentina for abusing children entrusted to his care in the "Happy Children Foundation" orphanage.
In light of the sheer number of cardinals who have been accused of engaging in, covering up, or underreporting sex abuse, it is understandable that a group of lay Catholics based in South Carolina have launched an initiative entitled "Better Church Governance" aimed at assessing cardinals' records on combating abuse and corruption. Led by former FBI supervisory special agent Phil Scala, the organization will prepare dossiers on all cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal conclave. In anticipation of the results of the investigation, the question arises if any prelate scheduled to participate in the February 2019 Vatican meeting on clerical sex abuse should recuse himself or be disqualified from attending. Here are eight disqualifying factors worthy of consideration:
In an article entitled "To the Root of Today's Church Crises" by Serafino Lanzetta, the author questions Pope Francis, Cardinals Cupich, Tobin and others who would have people believe that "clericalism" is the root cause of the crisis. Lanzetta writes, "But it is very difficult to understand how clericalism can explain the predation of generations of seminarians if homosexuality plays no role at all. It would be like saying that a drinker is always drunk not because he has an addiction to drink, but because he has money and can buy all the alcohol he likes."
Prelates who engage in, cover up, underreport or fail to report sexual abuse; reprise against whistleblowers; frequently associate with active homosexuals; or blame "clericalism" and not homosexual predation for the abuse crisis raise suspicions as to their own sexual orientation and should not be involved in investigating sexual abuse in the Church.