Last year, my wife and I visited Italy for the first time. In Rome, we arranged for a guide to take us through the Vatican. I envisioned an elderly gentleman, but our guide turned out to be an attractive young woman who, I soon decided, was a practicing Catholic. At one point, she asked me guardedly what I thought of Pope Francis. I’m not a Catholic, I said, so it’s probably none of my business. But I don’t like him. He seems to care more about left-wing politics than about Christianity. When it comes to politics and economics, he is ignorant; he should stick to theology. She discreetly kept silent, but I was pretty sure she agreed.
I didn’t know the half of it. Steve described the scandal that is now engulfing the papacy–or would be engulfing it, if reporters were not trying to protect their fellow left-winger–here. The scandal begins with Pennsylvania’s Cardinal McCarrick, whose career as a homosexual who corrupted priests and parishioners alike, apparently on an epic scale, has come to light. Pope Francis has protected McCarrick, apparently reversing sanctions that had been imposed on him by Pope Benedict, while transferring him to Washington, D.C.
Pope Francis’s role was brought to light by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò of Ulpiana in the Balkans, who himself discussed McCarrick with Francis and who has alleged, based on his own experience, that Francis was personally involved in protecting McCarrick, who was an important booster of Francis in his bid for the papacy.
The broader context of the scandal is that the American Catholic church welcomed an influx of homosexuals into the priesthood several decades ago. These homosexual priests were the source of the scandals that have devastated the Catholic church in America. It appears that they remain a major power within the church hierarchy, that they supported Francis in his ascension to the papacy, and that he continues to ally himself with them.
At First Things, John Waters has an article titled “Francis and the Journalists.” He observes that what has bedeviled the American church is not pedophilia, a rare and plainly aberrant condition, but rather homosexuality:
We have known since the John Jay Report published by the US bishops in 2004 that the overwhelming majority of abuse in the Church was carried out against teenage boys. The levels of pedophilia in the Church are shown by this report to be below those of the general population—whereas the levels of homosexual abuse were many multiples of the general situation.
[T]he problem arises in large part from the invasion of the priesthood in the 1970s and 1980s by unprecedented numbers of gay men, devoid of vocations, who now seek to undermine Church teaching on all sexual questions and who—rightly or wrongly—have come to see Pope Francis as an ally. This fifth column, the peel masquerading as the fruit, is the chief agent of the coverups of the abuses its own members have perpetrated.
For several decades, international news media have enthusiastically promoted (while usually misrepresenting) the story of homosexual abuse among the Catholic priesthood. And yet, now that the scandal has been dropped at the door of the Pope (!) by an archbishop speaking of his own experience, the press has fallen silent. Why?
Almost from the beginning, the media—who have otherwise sought at every turn to bury the Church—have adopted Pope Francis as their champion, creating an entirely bogus, indeed asinine, good pope–bad pope dichotomy between Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. This is why Archbishop Viganò’s statement was not widely reported in the Irish media (or indeed elsewhere) until late in the day last Sunday, and then only grudgingly, with the reports laced with innuendo about Viganò’s motivation and timing.
Why was Vigano not portrayed as a heroic whistleblower? Because he blew the whistle on a leftist pope, whose views on homosexuality, and many other issues, are shared by pretty much all reporters.
The pope’s exchange with journalists on the plane back to Italy must rank as one of the strangest episodes of mutual avoidance in the history of journalism. An issue that journalists have prosecuted with extreme vigor for a quarter-century had finally arrived at the door of a pope: a direct and concrete accusation that, in a specific instance, he had protected a serial sexual abuser.
Yet the omertà of the day continued into the early exchanges of the press conference, with several questions from Irish journalists making no reference to the matter. Then Anna Matanga of CBS—the first mainstream platform to cover the Viganò story on Sunday—asked: “This morning, very early, a document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò came out. In it, he says that in 2013 he had a personal talk with you at the Vatican, and that in that talk, he spoke to you explicitly of the behavior of and the sexual abuse by former–Cardinal McCarrick. I wanted to ask you if this was true. I also wanted to ask something else: The archbishop also said that Pope Benedict sanctioned McCarrick, that he had forbidden him to live in a seminary, to celebrate Mass in public, he couldn’t travel, he was sanctioned by the Church. May I ask you whether these two things are true?”
The pope replied: “I will respond to your question, but I would prefer last—first we speak about the trip, and then other topics. … I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested. Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions. It’s an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak. But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you. That’s good.”
To the uninitiated, this seems like a desperate prevarication mixed with feeble flattery, a playing for time. But if it was a prevarication, it turned out to be an effective one: The pope’s refusal to answer the question was meekly accepted by the journalists present, who would surely have brought the plane down had the pontiff’s name been Benedict or John Paul. The Viganò story has since gained little traction in the mainstream, except for the purpose of discrediting the archbishop.
It seems pretty clear that liberal reporters and editors view Pope Francis as an ally, maybe one who could decisively neutralize their long-time adversary, the Catholic church. Hence they are protecting him against what would, with a conservative pope, be a scandal of historic proportions.
Waters concludes this piece by offering a translation of what Francis said to the journalists on the airplane. I think his interpretation is fair:
Read the statement in the knowledge of the relationship you and I share: We are men and women of the world and like-minded on what is important. We know where we stand on matters like homosexuality and homosexual priests. But be careful how you handle this Viganò business—a wrong word could undo all we have achieved. I have faith in you to figure out who this man is. Do your work well and there will be no need for me to risk my position. Once you have defused the situation, I will deal with Viganò for the record. We are all adults here. I know I can count on you. I need your help on this, but we have an understanding that has worked well so far. Trust me.
Liberal journalists cover a liberal pope. We live in an era that is corrupt in many ways, but I think the corruption of the press is the worst corruption of all.
UPDATE: A reader points out that while Cardinal McCarrick’s predations were uncovered by an investigation in Pennsylvania, McCarrick himself had jurisdiction in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.