Views from Rome - 01

Dear friends, we are getting closer to what appears will be historic days for the Church. From February 21-24, 2019, Pope Francis will meet in Rome with the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of the world regarding the problem of sexual abuse by clergy. During these days anything could happen, even a revolt by the bishops against the Pope. The most explosive case is that of Monsignor Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, the Argentine bishop who mysteriously resigned in 2017, and who then a few months later was named Assessor of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), a position which had never existed until that moment, and which seemed to have been created just for him. The Argentine daily El Tribuno has published the reasons for which Zanchetta unexpectedly his position as bishop of Orano: in 2015 three priests of his diocese denounced him to the Nunciature for financial malfeasance, abuse of power, and sexual abuse of seminarians under his care.

The treatment reserved by Pope Francis for Zanchetta is astonishing, on account of the incredible lack of “discernment” in evaluating the person, repeatedly promoted to prominent positions in spite of his evident unreliability.” writes Sandro Magister on his blog. “Not an isolated case. But one that suffices on its own to contradict the postulate of the unfamiliarity and innocence of Pope Francis in the face of the abuses of power, rather than of sex as he puts it, by the clerical caste. The risk is that the summit scheduled at the Vatican from February 21-24 - in terms of how it will reverberate in public opinion - may find Bergoglio not in the role of unspotted guide, but himself as well in the dock of those guilty of having tolerated and covered up abuse.

In the letter to the American bishops on sexual abuse by the clergy, the Pope insists on his foundational argument: that the cause of abuse is clericalism and a distorted exercise of power. There is no mention of the central theme of homosexuality, ignoring the fact that at least 80% of the abuse committed by priests has been homosexual in nature. In view of the upcoming summit in February, on January 5, 2019 the Lepanto Foundation issued an appeal with the title “Dare Monsignor!”, in order to call monsignors and bishops of the entire world to embrace their responsibility.

The manifesto was published in Italian, English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Slovak on numerous websites such as Stilium CuriaeCooperatores Veritatis and Il Nuovo Arengario (Italy), LifeSiteNews (Canada), RorateCoeli e CatholicFamilyNews(USA), Adelantelafe (Spain), Katholisches (Germany), LaPorteLatine e Media-Info (France). Many other sites and journals published excerpts of the manifesto. LifeSiteNews has also started a list of signatories in support of the appeal, encouraging those who sign it to contact their bishops in order to stir them to a reaction. Click here to sign the petition.

Other initiatives will follow in the coming weeks. In fact, as Domenico Agasso wrote on Vatican Insider on January 11: “Among those who follow the events of the Vatican there is the feeling that this February meeting, for which an extraordinary presence of journalists and media operators from all continents is expected, could become a real event-symbol of this pontificate. And perhaps more: a decisive turning point for the future of the Church.”

In the same spirit which motivates the Lepanto Foundation, I have the pleasure of highlighting a press release from Catholic Laity for Orthodox Bishops and Reform (Catholic Laity) (www.catholiclaity.us). It announces a rally at the Papal Nunciature in Washington DC, (Massachusetts Avenue and 34th St., N.W.), on Friday, January 18, at 10:00 am.  Catholic Laity was founded by Winnie Obike and Donna Bethell, who started two recent online petitions, one to remove Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Archbishop of Washington,  https://www.change.org/p/pope-francis-remove-cardinal-wuerl-now/u/23266105, and the other not to appoint Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the reported front-runner, as Archbishop of Washington until the completion of an investigation into former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, https://www.change.org/p/archbishop-christophe-pierre-cardinal-tobin-must-not-be-made-archbishop-of-washington-before-investigation.  The first petition has more than 141,800 signatures and is still growing, as Cardinal Wuerl has resigned but is still running the Archdiocese as Apostolic Administrator, which could continue indefinitely.  The second petition has more than 7,000 signatures and is also growing.  Its original purpose has been achieved in that Cardinal Tobin has announced that he is not coming to Washington. The petition and Catholic Laity are now focused on the appointment of a worthy shepherd for Washington.

I encourage you to participate in this event, and I will share with you more information on what will be transpiring in Rome in the coming weeks.

Roberto de Mattei