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John Allen reports in Crux that Cdl. Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò for "accusing Francis of ignoring warnings about the sexual misconduct of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and asking him (the Pope) to resign" (my parenthesis). While Viganò, the former papal envoy to the United States, did make some mistakes and went too far by publicly calling for the resignation of the Pope in his open letter, still Müller left out an important question which needs to be asked by all.
The question is: Would faithful Catholics prefer that Viganò had said nothing publicly until the Pope was ready to deal with the issue? If Viganò did not write his open letter, the meeting of the bishops' conferences with the Pope may not be taking place on Feb. 21, 2018, and we may still be waiting for the civil authorities to intervene and investigate many of these crimes.
While it is immoral to reveal the past evil deeds of someone when people, especially the young and defenseless, are safe from any harm from that person, it is not immoral (and may even be required) to reveal the evil deeds of a person who has not shown repentance and is still a danger to the young and innocent — even if this person is a priest, bishop, cardinal or pope. The exception would be confessional matter which can never be revealed.
Since the clergy sexual abuse and hierarchical cover-up revealed by Viganò has been independently verified, the truthfulness of Viganò is no longer the issue. Few, if any, challenge the charge that there has been a systematic attempt to cover-up clergy sexual abuse by numerous bishops and priests throughout the world. Even the Pope was involved in these cover-ups, and even he does not attempt to challenge these facts.
According to Müller, "No one has the right to indict the pope or ask him to resign. ... Clearly, it is possible to have different opinions on the existing problems and on the ways to resolve them, but we must discuss them according to the roles of each." Continuing, he said that these conversations "must take place in private, in the proper places, and without ever making a public controversy," and he added that such "attacks" ultimately "end up questioning the credibility of the Church and her mission."
Most faithful Catholics would agree with Müller. But a point that must be added is the fact that Viganò tried to do this privately at least since the year 2006 with no results. So what do you do when your attempts to privately correct the situation fails and the systematic sexual abuse continues? McCarrick and a number of gay bishops and priests would have continued to have their way with minors and quite a few seminarians until the civil governments found out from victims, conducted their own investigation, just to finally reveal to everyone that the Church knew about this and was hiding it all along
Would this really be better than having someone in the Church bring the Church's attention to these matters publicly even if it pointed to some failures of the Pope himself?
When we consider that we live in a time of sophisticated communications, when surveillance equipment and hacking capabilities are widely used and civil authorities can demand the confidential files of any diocese, is it even possible today to keep secrets or "cover up" anything for long? Besides, when anything that was covered up comes to light, secular society often considers the "cover-up" more heinous than the crime itself (remember Nixon and Watergate). Except for the sacrament of penance, secrecy is pretty much a thing of the past. Therefore, morally good clergy and transparency are the best policy.
To put this in the context of Cdl. Müller's concern about the "credibility of the Church": Which is more likely to cause "questioning the credibility of the Church and her mission"? One, Abp. Viganò's open letter; or two, the exposing of a massive Church cover-up — involving even the Pope — by civil authorities while the Church stood by silently not interfering with the sexual abuse of minors and seminarians by bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians for a number of years?
Here is what it comes down to: Would you rather that Abp. Viganò did not write his open letter and things were just like they were when Cdl. McCarrick and his associates were running the Church in the United States?
Reprinted with permission from Fr. Regis Scanlon's website.