It’s often said that loyalty begets loyalty.
Now, a person’s individual definition of “loyalty” can certainly vary.
But most people can agree that “loyalty” from someone recognized as your ideological leader will typically involve speaking out and providing guidance in times of chaos.
Unfortunately for the more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide, Pope Francis hasn’t exactly been doing that in the wake of a massive scandal that has rocked the Catholic church to its very core.
For those of you who may miraculously be unaware of what has transpired regarding Catholic leadership recently, former Vatican ambassador to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano released a devastating letter last week accusing Pope Francis of covering up sexual abuse in some of the church’s highest circles.
Namely, Vigano claims that Francis and several other prominent Catholic figures have covered up sexual abuses committed by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C. The abuse, which allegedly took place over decades, involved seminarians and one altar boy.
They are undoubtedly damning allegations, though in fairness, there has yet to be any concrete evidence to corroborate Vigano’s claims.
Regardless of the veracity of these claims, it’s turbulent times like these that demand vocal leadership from Francis.
Obviously, if the allegations are true, Francis needs to admit it and — quite possibly — step down immediately.
If the allegations are false, a political attack launched from within, Francis needs to speak up and keep his church in order.
Unfortunately, he has done neither. (Though he has spoken out publicly — about ocean pollution.)
As is to be expected, some Catholics are none too happy about it. And that unhappiness has begun to manifest itself in a very visible fashion.
— Matthew Schmitz (@matthewschmitz) September 2, 2018
Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl faced the wrath of a frustrated parishioner on Sunday as he urged churchgoers to pray and remain loyal to Pope Francis.
According to CNN, parishioner Brian Garfield shouted, “Shame on you,” before walking out of Washington’s Annunciation Church. A woman in the congregation turned her back on Wuerl in protest.
“Yes, my brothers and sisters, shame. I wish I could redo everything over these 30 years,” Wuerl said in response to Garfield’s protest. “That’s not the case. I do think together, asking for God’s mercy, pleading for God’s grace, recognizing that we can move into light, I simply ask you to keep me, keep all of those that have been abused, all of those who have suffered, all of the church in your prayers.”
In an interview with CNN, Garfield, who told CNN he is a lifelong Catholic, said he wanted the church leadership to be more honest.
“I don’t think he is a monster but I wish he would talk less about defending himself and more about his failings,” Garfield told CNN, referring to Wuerl.
“It’s a little galling to be lectured on transparency by people who are lying to us,” Garfield added. “I wish he would talk to us as a pastor and not a politician.”
But protest wasn’t the only reaction to Wuerl’s comments.
As CNN reported:
“Most of the congregation clapped for Wuerl when he ended his brief address, and, as they shuffled out of the church on Sunday, many shook the cardinal’s hand and offered brief sentiments of support.”
That’s a testament to the reservoir of faith and goodwill the world’s Catholics have for their church. But the constant stream of scandals is wearing thin.
Again, and this can’t be stressed enough, the allegations levied against Pope Francis are nothing more than just that at the moment.
But if Pope Francis doesn’t speak up soon, the incident involving Wuerl will likely only be the tip of the iceberg.
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