As a Catholic, I have been following the response of the Catholic Church to the detailed testimony of former Vatican diplomat Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that the Vatican knew about the sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by an American cardinal and covered it up.

So far, American Catholics are giving the pontiff low marks for his handling of the scandal.

Just 3 out of 10 American Catholics say the pope has done an “excellent” or “good” job handling the church’s sex abuse crisis. The approval percentage is the lowest that Catholics in the U.S. have given the pope since the Pew Research Center began tracking views of his performance more than four years ago.

Viganó has just issued a second testimony, which repeated his allegation that Pope Francis knew of the scandal associated with former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, ended the sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict, and made McCarrick a member of the Vatican inner circle. Viganó is requesting documents be released to the public that will confirm his charges.

Viganó…appealed to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who allegedly told him about Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick in 2013, asking Ouellet to “bear witness to the truth.”

“Your Eminence, before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth,” Viganó wrote.

…The Archbishop also provided a justification for his decision to break the “pontifical secret” that he had “promised to observe.”

“The purpose of any secret, including the pontifical secret, is to protect the Church from her enemies, not to cover up and become complicit in crimes committed by some of her members,” Vigano wrote.

Meanwhile, local Catholic dioceses and parishes are responding directly to their parishioners. Legal Insurrection readers may recall the last time I reported on our bishop, Robert McElroy, he was bashing President Donald Trump and essentially preaching #Resistance theology. In fact, his exact quote was: “Well now, we must all become disrupters.”

File that statement under: Be careful what you wish for.

McElroy has opened a series of 8 “listening sessions”, the first of which was held Monday. I took the opportunity to attend and make a few observations.

After the opening prayer and gospel reading, an audience member stood up and disrupted the session by citing the Viganò letter and urging everyone to read it. The action was met by clapping, and several members in the audience held their hands up, fingers in a “V” sign.

..[McElory] quickly ran into rough waters — and some booing — from audience members who felt he was downplaying the abuse case of recently resigned Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and mischaracterized a scathing letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that accused higher-ups in the church of protecting McCarrick.

“More cover-up,” one of the audience members said out loud.

Many of the questions from parishioners were heated. Several asked when bishops would be held accountable for failing to root out and remove abusive clergy. “We have no confidence that the bishops can police themselves,” one woman said.

The approach taken by McElory was to offer about 40 groups of Catholic attendees one question each, which would be agreed to within the group after 30 minutes of discussion. By the time it came to my table, I asked about the process of defrocking a priest and when we could expect that action to be taken for McCarrick.

As of right now, McCarrick is still a priest and he is living comfortably in a home for priests in Kansas located within feet of an elementary school.

Officials at the elementary school were stunned to learn a priest accused of sexually abusing young boys was living next door, the Kansas City Star reported.

“I was never made aware of it until I found out through social media today,” said Kent Michel, superintendent of the school district and principal of Victoria Elementary told the Kansas City Star.

McElroy indicated he would be joining the other U.S. bishops at a conference in November, the focus of which will be to take more aggressive steps to deal with the abuse issue.

McElroy said bishops lack formal accountability. The diocesan system, which involves lay people sitting on allegation review boards, should be adopted at the bishop level, he said.

“Lay eyes and perspectives are incredibly vital,” he repeated, having said “we need to have lay people at the very center of teaching us how to move forward.”

That’s a start. However, the questions also indicate many in the laity are disturbed about the church’s current approach to homosexuals, especially in the priesthood. Many in the audience clearly feel that the proclivities of the clergy is a contributing factor in this particular scandal.

In conclusion, I suspect Pope Francis’ poll numbers will continue their downward trend for some time to come. I also project that McElroy will be experiencing more of that disruption he once clamored for.


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