Busy week we’ve had here in America. As of Friday, six US states have opened investigations into dioceses, including heavy hitters Illinois, New York and New Jersey.
The USCCB’s response has been to express the need for more refinements of their procedures, which call has been met with widespread disdain from an enraged laity.
Legatus, a US organization of high net worth Catholic laity also announced they are withholding their usual Vatican tithe — variously estimated at up to a million dollars — pending further investigations into the burgeoning sex abuse crisis.
A dozen bishops have called for investigations into former US nuncio Vigano’s charges that the Pope knew about and allowed sex abusing Cardinal Mc Carrick free reign.
Mc Carrick’s protege and protector, Cardinal Wuerl has returned from an emergency trip to Rome, seemingly determined to double down and ignore calls from his priests and laity for a ‘fresh start’.
The Pope remains true to his declaration to be silent on abusers. He’s used last week’s homilies to alternately castigate whistleblowers and urge other people to be silent — earning himself uneasy questions and even outright rebuffs from formerly staunch media supporters.
Meanwhile, at www.complicitclergy.com, video on Cardinal Bergoglio’s past in Argentina has surfaced, featuring astonishing interviews with victims and judges there who document that he not only covered up clerical sex abuse but actually paid for a ‘study’ purporting to show that victims were lying as ‘evidence’ to exonerate a priest — who is now in jail.
Where do we go from here?
Well, there’s four potential sources from which future developments might come.
THE CHURCH: Confusion seems to reign here, as bishops’ calls for investigations and policy changes meet with cynicism from the laity and stonewalling from the Vatican.
Looks as if the Vatican is hoping this will all go away, meanwhile taking the precaution of lawyering up as they cast an uneasy eye on US law enforcement resources being mobilized against them.
THE STATE: Opinion is currently divided among the laity on the mounting number of criminal investigations being launched.
Some fear police investigations will turn into a ‘witchhunt’. Others say that as the number of states initiating investigations rises, RICO (anti-racketeering) powers may be granted to the Feds, effectively rendering the status of the Catholic Church a criminal organization.
Still others point out that Trump’s recent Executive Order on sex and drug trafficking empowers the US government to impound the property– read ‘bank accounts’ — of any individuals or organizations being investigated for these crimes.
So, if the current trend escalates, we may find ourselves witnessing an astounding period of investigations and prosecutions of high profile clerical figures — and a spectacular drop in donations.
This in turn may spark the precipitate departure from US soil of certain clerics to places without extradition treaties, such as Vatican city. Certain lower level clerics may just quietly melt into the woodwork.
What happens, others ask, to federal funding of organizations under investigation for racketeering or trafficking? This remains to be seen, but if funds dry up, so will payrolls at diocesan staffs, and payments to lawyers and other contractors. The risk of not getting paid for their work may likely become a consideration for the more discerning vendors to dioceses.
THE PEOPLE: Because many Catholics have no idea how to discern the good guys from the bad, we’re likely to see some throw up their hands in despair, followed by an exodus of many casual Catholics to Protestant denominations.
Others will seek out those credible and reliable parishes and Orders within the Church, refusing to support scandal-ridden parishes — particularly as the gory details emerge as to how their donations have been used. (A case in point would be the revelations that Mc Carrick was a frequent visitor to emerging nations with significant sex trafficking issues in his decades-long assignment to Catholic Relief Services Board of Directors, for those Catholics who contributed to their ‘Rice Bowls’ fundraising.)
THE ALMIGHTY: The rapidity with which this crisis has developed is pretty interesting, despite the almost total lack of interest from Big Media. Our last count shows articles mushrooming from under 60 one month after the Mc Carrick revelations to more than 1000 today, six weeks later.
Given the horrific nature of the crimes being committed by predatory clerics primarily against young boys and men and covered up by complicit bishops, we cannot help but believe that the Almighty is deeply angered by this.
All we can advise Catholics at this point is to fasten their seat belts and hang on tight to the Faith. It looks to be a bumpy ride ahead.