By Gene Thomas Gomulka
Pope Francis can continue to remain silent amid allegations that he allowed Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, a known sexual predator, to influence episcopal appointments and travel freely because there is more than enough evidence to prove that he covered up sexual abuse in his own archdiocese of Buenos Aires. In the aftermath of Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò's call for the Pope to resign, almost every day new evidence seems to surface showing how even deaf orphans were sexually abused in the Pope's former archdiocese by predator Italian priests who fled their own country to continue their predation in a diocese led by a friendly ethnic Italian cardinal.
Unfortunately, most major U.S. media outlets are afraid to engage in serious investigative reporting life French investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Martin Boudot who produced Sex Abuse in the Church: the Code of Silence. This film that won the 2017 Prix Europa Award for best European documentaries was originally titled The Silence of the Shepherds. The documentary shows how then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio refused to meet with victims of sexual abuse and attempted to get Argentine judges to overturn a verdict of Fr. Julio César Grassi, who is serving a 15-year sentence for abusing children entrusted to his care in the "Happy Children Foundation" orphanage.
If most U.S. media outlets are giving Pope Francis a pass owing to his remark about gays, "Who am I to judge?" Catholic media outlets controlled by Church officials appear to be no better. When Cdl. Blase Cupich ordered Fr. Paul Kalchik to undergo a psychological evaluation after he and members of his parish conducted a private burning of an LGBTQ banner that at one point covered a crucifix in the nave of their church, Catholic media sources were silent in reporting on a tactic used by many bishops to silence Church whistleblowers.
Both secular and Church media outlets reported very little about an extensive 19-page report published by German magazine Der Spiegel that heavily criticized Pope Francis for lying and ignoring the pleas of abuse survivors in Argentina. While the Germans are not afraid to expose sexual abuse and cover-ups by telling the Pope, "Du sollst nicht lügen" ("Thou shalt not lie"), U.S. media are content merely to report how the Pope asks people to pray the Rosary or how he will convene a meeting of bishops in February to talk about abuse that he and others present at the meeting are guilty of covering up.
While everyone knows — even if they refuse to say it out loud — that the cardinals made a huge mistake by electing a cardinal guilty of covering up sex abuse, educated Catholic laity tired of being asked to simply "pay, pray and obey" are no longer remaining indifferent. 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. They have signed up former FBI agents led by Phil Scala, a former FBI supervisory special agent, who will prepare dossiers on all cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal conclave. Had such a report been made available at the previous conclave, one Jorge Bergoglio would have had several "red flags" next to his name.
Catholics throughout the world are at a quandary. Should they remain in the Church they know is governed by many bishops who, if they do not engage in sexual predation like ex-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, they cover it up like Pope Francis did in Buenos Aires? Or should they leave after so many of their non-Catholic friends ask, "How can you condone and financially support an organization that has paid out over $4 billion of your hard-earned money to pay for the sexual abuse of minors like the deaf orphans in Argentina whose cries were only heard by the predator priests who were raping them?"
In a state that documented the sexual abuse of over 1,000 minors by some 430 priests, Pennsylvania Catholic laywoman, Mary Lee Madigan-Davis, said in a recent talk to fellow parishioners:
I will never overlook the crimes committed by Catholic Church officials, but I will not be forced by others' sins to lose the religion which provides for me the most continuous, life giving spirituality I have ever known. In Catholicism I find that which nourishes me; that which challenges me; that which comforts me. I find traditions and stories that root me, ground me, into the spiritual-seeking history of mankind while at the same time urging me to search my soul for my own holy calling from God. My deepest longing is an ever growing relationship with God, and it is the Catholic Church which supports and guides me through that every day.
If Catholics like Madigan-Davis have chosen to remain in the Church despite its seriously flawed leadership, it is because she does not equate the "Catholic Church" with the hierarchy despite the way it is governed where she, like most women, have very little to no say. However, if Abp. Viganò, Bp. Robert Morlino and others are correct about the existence of a large homosexual subculture in the Catholic hierarchy, then women like Madigan-Davis may have even less say than they might want in helping to reform the Church. As long as the Church is controlled by a pope and cardinals who either engage in sex abuse or cover it up, the future of the Catholic Church does not appear very promising.