Proud member of the Index of Forbidden Blogs
I hereby decree and declare by my Bloggostolic authority that from this day forward the expression “Big Giant Nothingburger” shall henceforth be known as a “Bishops’ Baltimore Special.”
And hilarity ensued…
So, that was fun. I hope we’re all recovered from our hangovers from the Baltimore Bishop Meeting drinking game? Good.
Things have been getting so interesting out there it’s difficult to keep up anywhere but Twitter. Really at this stage, the whole sorry thing is just starting to crash down on its own and doesn’t need much more help. Gravity is going to do the rest of the work. So just grab the popcorn, make sure you’re at minimum safe distance and enjoy the show.
The Bergoglian train just keeps chugging towards the cliff
Bishops learn who is really in charge
It’s being revealed today and yesterday that though the news of the pope’s intervention had come as a complete shock to Card. DiNardo, Cupich and Wuerl had been in on a conspiracy with the pope and the Nuncio to derail the meeting and put a Bergoglian plan in place.
When DiNardo made his shock announcement about the agenda change, it was noted by many that Cupich jumped up with an alternative proposal rather quickly. Now we know. The fix was in, or so he hoped. Wuerl resigned under pressure weeks ago, in disgrace over his handling of clerical sex abuse, but this clearly shows he still has a hand in running things. These two powerful cardinals, close Francis allies, conspired with Rome against all the American bishops to derail a plan that would have brought laity into oversight of bishops’ conduct. The sneaky, underhanded way they did this tells you much.
Cupich and Wuerl were acting as agents of Pope Francis to undermine the laity, and to undermine the reformist element of the US bishops.
It seems clear that the Cupich/Wuerl/Francis plan had been developed well in advance, and that they allowed the meeting to go forward, planting the bomb under DiNardo’s chair for maximum damage to morale. It wasn’t just that the US bishops needed to be told what to do, they needed to be completely humiliated:
Cupich submitted the plan Tuesday to leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference, proffering it as an alternative to a proposal that had been devised by conference officials and staffers.
The conference’s proposed plan would have established an independent lay-led commission to investigate allegations against bishops. The Cupich-Wuerl plan would instead send allegations against bishops to be investigated by their metropolitan archbishops, along with archdiocesan review boards. Metropolitans themselves would be investigated by their senior suffragan bishops.
Sources in Rome and Washington, DC told CNA that Wuerl and Cupich worked together on their alternative plan for weeks, and presented it to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops before the U.S. bishops’ conference assembly in Baltimore. Cupich and Wuerl are both members of Congregation for Bishops.
Not that the Bergoglians needed to worry too much:
Baltimore was the hierarchy’s last chance:
Here come the lawyers
Go get em, boys…
We’ve really got the old drinking-from-the-firehose problem this week as, about five seconds after the Baltimore meeting broke up in drunken peals of mirth, FrancisCorp is slapped by multiple legal actions from sources national and international. We knew it was coming, with state prosecutors telling bishops not to destroy documents and lots of people publicly talking about RICO statutes.
But it’s not just the US
“The Italian Executive must reclaim an amount of roughly 5 billion euros, which corresponds to the arrears that the Church should have paid in between 2006 and 2011.”
Vatican, US bishops face class-action lawsuit from victims of clergy sex abuse
We heard yesterday from Legatus, an organisation of Catholic business leaders in Canada and the US who announced in September that they would be placing their annual tithe to the Vatican in escrow, pending the resolution of the global sex abuse crisis. Apparently the godly men of business have little hope that this will come soon. Tom Monaghan, the organisation’s founder writes:
“[I]t is evident that it is going to take time for the current crisis in the Church to be addressed to the point where the Board believes the reinstatement of our annual tithe would be prudent.”
They will be cancelling the Vatican tithe from all future dues and refunding money already collected for 2019.
In its tough love message, Legatus’ board decided there wasn’t going to be any more pocket money handed to Rome until they could be reasonably assured that it would not go to ungodly purposes. “[T]he Church is most certainly in crisis, but it is not a crisis of Faith…”
Though the legal entanglements are mostly coming from the US, the collapse is by no means localised. By a fantastic coincidence, on the same day that Chilean government officials required his presence to assist them with their inquiries, Francisco Javier Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa, fortunate favourite of the pope and member of his C9 boy’s club, announced he had been released by the Holy Father from his obligations at the end of his five year term. In September Chilean police had raided the offices of four dioceses for information about episcopal cover-ups of sexual abuse.
I must say all this really does answer a few questions about why certain dicasteries and individuals are so keen to grab as much cash as they can from any available source… the Knights of Malta, the FFIs…
You know… any extra dosh just lying around…
Meanwhile the fiddle concert continues
— Junno Arocho Esteves (@arochoju) November 16, 2018
You can always tell when they’re feeling the pinch. Today’s trot-out-the-pope exercise was His Holiness walking across the piazza yesterday to visit some poor people!
As noted somewhere on Twitter: “SQUEEEE! HE’S JUST LIKE ME! I walk outside too!!!”
Today after Mass he “had lunch” with 1500 “poor” of Rome. At least this time it wasn’t held in the nave of one of the great historic churches of Rome.
Pretty sure the European Court, American prosecutors and the plaintiffs of a class action lawsuit aren’t impressed though.
A half hour after the end of the most disastrous PR fiasco in modern Catholic history, bishops punch themselves repeatedly in the face…
Almost as good as this:
This weekend is the collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development! Be part of the effort to break the cycle of poverty in the United States https://t.co/C0y3MuvU2G #PowerOfCCHD #1church1mission pic.twitter.com/3myLRUAbCl
— US Catholic Bishops (@USCCB) November 15, 2018
The (as of this writing) 204 comments are all pretty much the same:
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed:
everything else is public relations.”
“They’re worried about how alternative Catholic media
is turning the tables on their agenda.”
And that is getting to be kind of a theme. Quite a lot of people are unimpressed with the Francis Show.
As Buddy Steve wrote the other day:
For the first time, though, we’re seeing evidence that they are afraid. They’re worried about how alternative Catholic media is turning the tables on their agenda.
Which is why they are trying to find a way to silence us.
During the Youth Synod last month in Rome, a discussion was had about how the Vatican might sanction Catholic outlets it trusts. This attempt — which I’ve taken to referring to as “The Index of Forbidden Blogs”…
And behold, it was so:
146. The Synod hopes that in the Church appropriate official bodies for digital culture and evangelization are established at appropriate levels, which, with the indispensable contribution of young people, promote ecclesial action and reflection in this environment. Among their functions, in addition to promoting the exchange and dissemination of good practices at a personal and community level, and to develop adequate tools for digital education and evangelization, could also manage certification systems of Catholic sites, to counter the spread of fake news regarding the Church, and looking for ways to persuade public authorities to promote increasingly stringent policies and tools for the protection of minors on the web.
The note was met with the usual peals of laughter on Twitter and the blogs. The general agreement was that the receiving of the Vatican’s blue check mark would be the kiss of death for any news organisation, website or blog wanting to keep a reputation for independence, honesty or integrity.
Then there was this…
Mike Voris got a shot of what was being handed around last week in Boston at an event for the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre by the inimitable (and often unhinged) Torontonian papolater Fr. Tom Rosica.
It was a list of suggested websites that good and faithful Catholics could turn to for non-fake, “officially approved” news.
(Modestly placing his own project, Salt n’ Light, second, after the official news source of the USCCB…)
Or, as our friend Chris Altieri put it, and that Fr. Rosica doesn’t seem to understand, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
I admit one of the most gratifying aspects of the innernet wars has been watching our opponents hop about in impotent rage that we just keep blogging… No. Matter. How. Hard they shake their fingers at us.
Our favourite Captain of Team Francis Twitter Troll, Massimo Faggioli, seems more than usually cranky this week since being singled out. With the launch of their new US edition (and 10 free-articles-per-week paywall), the Catholic Herald ran a helpful piece identifying for the new audience the “Catholic tribes” involved in the war, and Max got a special mention as head innernet papolater, (though to be honest, you don’t really see articles he writes getting talked about…)
Team Francis are a group of academics and journalists who invested heavily in the pontificate of Pope Francis and are doing everything in their power to boost his share price. Unfortunately, their near-worship of the pontiff (which must embarrass him) is having the opposite effect.
They may not realise this, as they have worn their fingers to the bone pressing the “block” button on Twitter as soon as they are challenged.
The team’s American leader is the Italian-born Professor Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University, a clever man who needs all his intellectual gifts to interpret Vatican arm-twisting as “synodality”.
Faggioli is affable but never misses a chance to snipe at whistleblower Archbishop Viganò, the former nuncio who revealed the extent of the McCarrick cover-up. His ally David Gibson of Fordham University also misses no opportunity to question the motives of Catholic conservatives who draw attention to various catastrophic Vatican blunders.
Until now, Team Francis have been able to make effective use of two or three Catholic journalists who never deviate from the party line. These journalists, writing for liberal Catholic publications, were then able to shape secular coverage of the Church. Now, however, the mainstream media are asking tough questions about sex abuse that Team Francis are unable to answer.
Just as certain Militants find it difficult to get through a sentence without mentioning Freemasons, Team Francis ascribes nearly all criticism of the Pope to shadowy right-wing pressure groups. What they don’t understand is that if rich unscrupulous conservatives were really determined to undermine the pontiff, the best way of doing so would be to throw money at Team Francis.
And to be honest, the Twitter war is just a bit of fun and games, with the poor schleps rising to the bait every. single. time.
This was pretty fun, for example: poor old hapless Massimo, upon finding himself the victim of an unintentional practical joke, accused First Things editor Matthew Schmitz of being a “sniper”:
And, according to the laws of Twitter Combat, no quarter was given.
In fact, Max’s offerings on Twitter are a constant source of hilarity.
This was especially well-received:
Gloves coming off
But wacky sophomoric hijinks aside, the stuff the Bergoglians are extremely keen to see an end to, but can do nothing about, is this sort of thing.
Apparently Dr. Gregory Popcak doesn’t see the humour in a group of men whose authority depends upon their claim to be disciples of Christ, refusing by a wide margin to pass a resolution to act like normal human beings, capable of ordinary decency…
Let’s be honest. If any other minimally sentient carbon-based life-form saw a colleague doing something illegal or unethical, they wouldn’t need a formal, legal structure to publicly call them out, appropriately shame them for their dereliction of duty, and challenge them to fix it or get out. Social pressure/fraternal correction is a perfectly legitimate cultural intervention that is readily available to the bishops BUT THEY DON’T USE IT!
How many bishops called out “Uncle Ted” despite his behavior being an “open secret” for over 20 years? And even after all that, how many bishops have publicly called out Malone for his gross dereliction of duty in Buffalo? Why not? Because episcopal culture has made an idol out of saving face and making nice. It’s as if the motto of every bishop on the planet is “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”
Look, if the bishops would just act like basically human, more-or-less socialized, kinda-normal-ish people (much less, witnesses to the gospel), who were capable of occasional expressions of (perfectly appropriate) righteous outrage, we wouldn’t need any “policies” or “canonical structures.”
The weird and creepy story by Christine Niles of her conversation with Cardinal Levada, Benedict XVI’s pick for CDF, probably gives a pretty clear idea why that’s not happening. In brief, they aren’t. Minimally sentient, I mean. Let alone basically human, more-or-less socialized, kinda-normal-ish people.
“The Vatican is already conducting an investigation,” he told us, and the bishops were deferring to them on this matter. We asked how the laity could trust the Vatican investigation when Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò’s testimony revealed Pope Francis himself protected and promoted McCarrick.
“What does Viganò know?” Levada asked, writing off the former papal nuncio-turned-whistleblower as merely a man with personal opinions. “Besides, we question his motives.”
“But his motives don’t matter so much as the evidence he presented,” I said.
“His motives do matter,” Levada shot back, refusing to address Viganò’s claims.
“The laity have lost confidence that the Vatican is trustworthy on this, and are tired of the complicity and cover-up,” I said to Levada.
“Oh, the laity,” he said with a dismissive wave of the hand. “I’ve met so many laity throughout my life, and they’re all over the spectrum.” The tone of disdain in his voice was unmistakable.
He was similarly dismissive of the terms “complicity” and “cover-up,” claiming they’re favorite words used by the media with little meaning…“Catholics are asking for more transparency from the bishops,” I insisted.
“Oh, transparency is another media watchword,” Levada said, calling it a “mantra” used by the media for our own agenda. I reminded him that the bishops themselves have used that word in promising greater honesty and clarity in handling sex abuse.
“Well, only after the media used it,” he retorted.
They really just want it all to go away and stop bothering them.
I think the real winner of the commentary contest this week was the sober and very grown-up Msgr. Charles Pope who has become especially pointed lately. It seems the Baltimore fiasco was a breaking point. Yesterday he wrote:
To most Catholics, the Pope’s actions and seeming resistance place the ownership of the scandal squarely in his court; he has increasingly become the face of the scandal. This is due to the credible accusations that he knew of former Cardinal McCarrick’s predatory behavior but even more so to the fact that he has steadfastly refused even to respond to the charges. He could deny them, but he does not. Even if he were to say, “I made a serious error in judgment and I ask the mercy and forgiveness of God’s people,” many people would do so, even if with sadness. Instead, the Pope has declared that he will “not say one word on this.” Even worse, he subsequently referred to those who have asked for answers and investigations as “a pack of wild dogs,” “scandal-mongers,” and “those in league with the Great Accuser.”
Finally, there are some in Rome and even among our own bishops and priests in the U.S. who still see this crisis as a mere tempest in a teapot, largely stirred up by “right-wing” bloggers and Catholics who simply “don’t like” Pope Francis. I know of no one from any sector of the Church who is not heartbroken about this, while also angry and insistent upon reform.
This is not a storm created in the “blogosphere.”
Just keep blogging…
No, it certainly isn’t. But I would like to put a little plug in for the much-maligned “blogosphere”.
Frankly, if it weren’t for the work of alternative Catholic media like Church Militant, (great work this week, guys, btw) One Peter Five, LifeSiteNews, the Remnant and, yes, the little independent blogs like this one, none of this would have come out. Writers like Rod Dreher and Edward Pentin, guys who get salaries from more mainstream conservative publications, are joined and supported by a small army of independent bloggers like some of those quoted above.
The fact is, Team Francis is right in a way. It isn’t a conspiracy, but we do more or less all know each other. It’s hardly a secret. We goof off and joke around all the time on Twitter and elsewhere, right out in front of the world. A lot of us are friends and colleagues going back years. Sometimes decades. So, naturally there’s a lot of information being shared around. Everyone has a different background, we all bring different personalities, different sets of experiences and different approaches. I think the value of the whole thing is like one of those photo-mosaics, that when you zoom the camera in you see is made up of hundreds of individual little pictures.
The Catholic blogosphere is a pretty scrappy family. Sometimes there’s fallings out. Sometimes we fight. Not often in public, thank God. But for the most part we really are all pointed the same direction. Whatever snark we may save for each other, on the whole there is at least a mutual respect among people on our side for the work we are all doing, and an awareness that we are doing it together. The stories we follow, the people we talk to, the trends we’re tracking, are all adding up to form a coherent picture.
Whatever the ups and downs of all this weird and wild ride, no matter how frustrated – at turns depressed, furious, agog with horrified amazement – I’m proud to have been at least a small part of it, both behind and in front of the scenes. I’m glad I know these people who are involved in this. And I’m gratified their work has been helped by the work I do, however haphazard it tends to be.
We’re seeing more and more people converging, and I’ve said for some time that this is the great gift from God of this horrible man as pope. Nothing else was ever going to convince the fractious “tribes” to unite. And I think my contention that other “conservative” pontificate would have done us in has been generously proved by the explosion of scandal – like the draining of an ancient, festering cyst – that Bergoglio’s prodigiously hamfisted mismanagement has revealed. I’m happy especially that the Traditionalist position on the real nature of the crisis is being increasingly vindicated, and acknowledged as such by a growing chorus.
I appreciate especially the support and often steadfast friendship I’ve enjoyed from colleagues and readers alike. When I think about the battle for the Church in the 1970s and ’80s, and the fact that the previous generation of traditionalists did everything with fax machines and xeroxed newsletters sent through the post, I am amazed and humbled. The reach and power this medium gives us all, and the unprecedented ability to keep ahead of the events, to work together, to help each other and form networks, with no language barriers, no waiting times except what the curvature of the earth creates, is astounding. It makes me think even more that this is the time chosen by God to rescue His beloved Bride. All this would simply have been impossible without the internet and related technologies of our incredibly weird times.
I’m grateful, as always, to those who donate regularly – large and small – and I hope you will consider contributing this week to help to keep all this going. I can’t do it without y’all, in more ways than one.
Donate to WUWTS through Paypal here.