23 June 2018


It was reported, during the Chilean Abuse Scandal, that lengthy documents were delivered to Cardinal O'Malley which he undertook to forward to PF. PF subsequently, angrily, claimed that nobody had told him about the Scandal. (Or so the accounts allege: vide exempli gratia the report, with photograph, in the Irish Times of 6 February 2018.).

And now a news agency called Reuters, which is generally considered to have a reputation for objectivity and honesty, is claiming that PF says he only learned about the Dubia from the newspapers.

I do not think it is right or properly respectful, or even Christian, to jump to the conclusion that PF is a liar. There are at least two other clear possibilities:

(1) That he is starting to have what people call 'Senior Moments'. If this is so, then clearly some sort of competent and tactful medical intervention is called for. Benedict XVI resigned because he felt he could no longer properly perform his duties. As an honourable man, surely PF would wish to be told honestly and frankly if his mental capacities are deteriorating.

(2) That some person whose duty it was to place ... physically ... important documents into the Pope's hands, failed to do so. In view of the stories circulating about PF's violent outbursts of temper, it would perhaps be humanly understandable if one or more of his staff do habitually conceal or destroy documents likely to drive him into intemperate rages. But such a possibility is in itself gravely worrying.

And there may very probably be other possibilities which readers will be able to imagine.

Meanwhile, it would surely be a good thing if efficient office procedures were put in place. These would include specific individuals signing for documents, so that a precise paper trail existed of where significant documents actually got to. Secular organisations seem able to manage such accountability questions with routine good sense, or else are justly criticised when they fail to do so. I believe British ministers are expected to initial documents in their Red Boxes when they have read them.

The Catholic Church sets great store by the Petrine Office. And rightly so. It is profoundly rooted in Scripture and Tradition. And this carries with it a duty of proper and proportionate respect for the individual who occupies that post. But that individual himself ought to have a proper respect for the post he occupies. And this has practical implications.

Perhaps the archives of the CDF will be able to reveal whether their copy of the Dubia arrived in their Office on the day their Eminences have stated, thus giving prima facie evidence that the Cardinals are telling the truth. And Cardinal Mueller must know whether he duly discussed the matter with PF. It would do the Church no harm at all if it were seen to embrace a culture of openness; of giving Truth a priority.

There need be no confusions about simple questions such as whether something that PF should have read, actually did reach him. Public Meejah discussions about whether PF or the Four Cardinals ... and Cardinal O'Malley ... are honest men, do the Church's reputation no good at all.


Randolph Crane said...

I love this article. It made me crack up. Thanks for making my day, Father!

GOR said...

I agree, Father, that there should be a tightening up of procedures, by and around, Pope Francis. However, from the early days of this pontificate it was clear that this would not be the case. There has been little attention paid to providing clarity, being precise in the use of terms and phrases and avoiding confusion.

In fact, the contrary appears to be the modus operandi. Leave questions open, don’t explain or expound and you can’t be tied down. It seems that, as in the political world, ‘plausible deniability’ is the order of the day. And when that doesn’t work, outright denial is the fallback position.

It is rather scandalous that in a Church built upon Divine Truth, a Pharasaic attitude towards truth and practice appears to hold sway. Much damage has been done to the Church in a very short period of time. I fear the repair will be a much lengthier project.

TLM said...

Well, I don't know Fr., but I do remember that Pope Francis did say at the very beginning of his Papacy that he did not read 'newspapers', nor did he watch TV. All he reads is the Vatican Newspaper. Maybe he forgot that he didn't read newspapers and actually read about the Dubia in an actual newspaper. Yes, well....it could be senior moments I suppose.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

When Pope Blessed Paul VI promulgated his Moto Proprio legislating that Cardinals lose thier right to participate in a conclave when they reached 80 years old, the great Roman, Cardinal Ottaviani, politely pointed out the Pope was legislating against a multi-centennial praxis that showed just how much Holy Scripture and Holy Mother Church valued venerable age and its concomitant wisdom, knowledge, and experience but he also pointed out that if a prelate was exhibiting signs of mental incapacity, such a problem could be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Father, you have been very generous in your response to the dubious dubia claims but what causes ABS to worry (He has a huge speed sheet of such things) is that this situation may present an opportunity to advance claims that the Papacy itself should be subject to a forced resignation at age 80 because science says...etc etc

This was only to be expected after what Paul VI did and so when a man is ordained (as Fr Dulac observed) he is not a priest forever; he is a priest until he is forced to retire like some railroad employee and what then was proscribed for some Prelates by Pope Paul VI would eventually come to be applied to the ultimate Prelate.

The revolution within the form of Catholics has resulted in an almost complete anthropocentric orientation and so it is not out of the question to see proposals being advanced to change the Papacy to be more like a secular company that forces its CEO to retire at 80.

Yes, of course ,it is for the good of the Church to be more like the world.

What, you say that we have always been taught that he world, the flesh,and the devil are our ancient and permanent enemies and that the World is first in that order?

That superstition is is a relic of the Dark Ages routinely cited by vinegar-faced Pharisees....

Mike Cliffson said...

Paper trail? We had one of them in the family once but the farrier couldn't shoe it.

Stephen said...

was not pneumonia once called "the old man's friend"? I wonder why.