Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sex and the City - Vatican Vote is Business as Usual

It’s difficult some times to figure out which century we’re living in, as the debate rages about whether or not Cardinals who have at some point been complicit in protecting pedophile priests should be allowed to vote for the next Pope, and Cardinals themselves entering the fray, defending each other. How this can even be a debatable point is beyond me. I feel sometimes as if I’m reading a novel set in Medieval Italy.

Former archbishop of San Francisco Cardinal William Levada said from a seminary in Menlo Park before leaving for Rome to vote in the conclave that he believed Cardinal Mahony should be allowed to vote because he had said sorry for his errors in judgment. Well that makes it all fine and dandy then.  He is quoted on Fox news as saying “There are some victims groups for whom enough is never enough, so we have to do our jobs as best we see it.”

How those two thoughts are connected is hard for me to understand. Possibly I’m just not holy enough. Cardinal Levada’s perspective, however, makes perfect sense in the light of the fact that he too “kept some accused molesters in the church and failed to share some allegations with police or parishioners.” (

Channel News Asia reported that Monsignor Charles Scicluna had defended the Cardinals who had kept quiet about pedophile priests saying they had to do it for fear of scandal.  He added that Canon law dictates that they have a right and a duty to vote and that wisdom is not God-given only to saints, but also to sinners. To really bring his argument home, he added ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’.  (

This from a stalwart member of an organization that teaches children that if you die without going to confession and Mass on Sunday you’ll go to hell. But it’s not a sin for Cardinals to protect pedophiles no.  Heaven, we must defend the Vatican from scandal. If a few children in another diocese have to take it up the you know what, it’s a worthy sacrifice.

Reuters reported that on Feb 20, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was questioned “in a legal deposition about cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests while he was the head of the archdiocese of Milwaukee”. That diocese filed for a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in 2011, citing the financial drain of having to settle all the sexual abuse claims against it. Magnanimously they acknowledged their mistakes in protecting pedophiles. ‘Missteps’ they called it.  (

I guess avoiding the scandal didn’t work out so well there. Milwaukee is the eighth diocese to file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and the Church has paid out about $2 billion in settlements. And Cardinal Dolan is in the running for being the next Pope.

Anybody who is hoping that the next pope will be elected on the basis of his willingness and determination to actively root out all past and present pedophiles in the Church had better go back to that lovely tin of glue they’ve been sniffing. According to New York Times reporters Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo, this election is going to be about politics, as it always has been; a fight between ultra conservatives who want nothing to change and the slightly more liberal who see that the Church is losing its grip and should allow divorced Catholics who didn’t get an annulment to receive Communion and limited use of condoms. There are no candidates who wish to see women as priests or the end of celibacy. (

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago is reported to have said that Cardinals don’t promote themselves, but they talk about each other. He said everybody simply wants to know what kind of qualities they have – and amongst the qualities he mentioned were caring about the poor, being “deeply rooted in apostolic faith”, being able to govern, and being a man of prayer.  He added that nobody is interested in where the Cardinals come from. (

Notably absent from Cardinal George’s list of important qualities was ‘allegiance to truth’ or ‘the courage, will and determination to actively root out all past and present pedophiles in the Church.’ None of the articles I read mentioned any Cardinals who are running on that ticket. None are even running on the ticket of eliminating celibacy or allowing women to become priests. And of the 117 Cardinals who will vote, 67 were appointed by Benedict XVI; the other 50 were appointed by John Paul II. When the new pope is elected, he can appoint his own pals.  

It's a closed system, it's all about the Catholic hierarchy and what they want, and it's not about the people. Business as usual. My word, these men have entitlement. 

Image:  Portrait of Pope Leo X and his cousins, Cardinals Giulio de' Medici and Luidi de' Rossi (Raffael, 1483-1520)