As I noted in last month's issue of Christ or Chaos, the explosion of public revelations dealing with scandals involving priest pederasty and the cover-up of such scandals by ecclesiastical officials in this country and across the world is partly the result of the failure of bishops to understand that no man who demonstrates any homosexual tendencies whatsoever can be ordained to the priesthood. The Holy Father's spokesman, Dr. Joaquin Navarro Valls, made this exact comment himself recently.
However, there needs to be some plain talk spoken in love about the Holy Father's own responsibility in this matter. Pope John Paul II has abdicated his responsibility to personally supervise the appointment of bishops and he has failed quite utterly to discipline bishops, who have let scandals fester and doctrinal impurity to go unchecked in their dioceses. The Holy Father's abdication of his role as governor of the Church has done incalculable damage to the Holy Faith. Thousands of souls have been lost to the Church as a result of scandals which need never have occurred, and by the failure of the Holy Father to use his disciplinary power to remove bishops responsible for knowingly ordaining homosexuals, and for believing that such behavior after ordination is a disqualification for further pastoral assignments. And this is to say nothing of the Holy Father's refusal to admit that his bishops are responsible for the promotion of doctrinal impurity, creating, instead, a climate of a siege-mentality in which some Catholics have come to believe that all bishops everywhere are beyond criticism for anything. Indeed, His Holiness has done much to help create such an environment by his praise of bishops-and his abject refusal to do anything to remove men who are harmful to the Faith (Roger Cardinal Mahony, Matthew Clark, Howard Hubbard, Rembert Weakland, Tod Brown, Robert Brom, Joseph Imesch, Patrick McGrath - and to recently permit others to continue to preside over the destruction of the Faith until the point of their retirement, most notably the late John Raymond McGann, the long-time Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.) Sadly, the Holy Father refused to take action against a French bishop who supported RU-486, the French abortion pill, until the laity in France kept pestering Rome for the man's removal, which took place in January of 1995.
The Holy Father's lack of governance of the Church undoes the claim of some of his great apologists, such as George Weigel, that history will record him as John Paul the Great. Pope John Paul II will go down in history as a man who traveled widely and wrote much. However, he will also go down in history as a man who let ecclesiastical bureaucrats beneath him determine the human fate of the Church at this point in salvation history. There is no escaping this conclusion. One can love the Holy Father while recognizing in all candor the weaknesses of his pontificate. No great holder of the Chair of Saint Peter would stand by idly as bishops, such as Reginald Cawcutt in South Africa, justify homosexual behavior and mock the pursuit of holiness which is supposed to be the universal vocation of every baptized Catholic. And no "great" pope would attempt to positivistically reaffirm bishops in their fidelity to the Deposit of Faith when the truth of the matter is that most of the world's bishops help to undermine the Faith.
It is not difficult for any pope to know who his episcopal appointees are. There are only three thousand dioceses in the world. More important than any pilgrimage or World Youth Day is the duty a Pope has to know the men he appoints as ordinaries of dioceses. He should not rely upon the word of ecclesiastical functionaries in the Vatican, nor should he rely upon the foxes around the world in episcopal attire who want to replicate themselves by nominating men who will continue the theological and liturgical revolution begun in earnest in the 1960s at Vatican II. It is important for a pope to personally interview all possible candidates for episcopal appointments (even as auxiliary bishops) and to elicit information from well placed sources in the laity in a particular diocese. A pope's most lasting legacy is the quality (or lack thereof) of his episcopal appointments. Far from being an impossible task, the job of supervising the selection of bishops is eminently possible and morally mandated for the good of the salvation and sanctification of souls.
For example, the Holy Father created then Monsignor Emil Wcela of the Diocese of Rockville Centre as an auxiliary bishop in 1988 even though it was known to Vatican officials that Wcela was a supporter of women's ordination. Wcela has been a prominent player in the now-named United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, pushing hard for "inclusive language" in the Mass and participating in scandalous New Age/feminist "paraliturgies" on Long Island. True, His Holiness refused the late Bishop John R. McGann's request to have Wcela named as his Co-Adjutor in the 1990s. However, the damage was done when Wcela was named by the Holy Father as an auxiliary bishop.
Similarly, the Holy Father waited for two long years before forcing Springfield, Illinois, Bishop Daniel Ryan into an early retirement even though Vatican officials knew that Ryan is a homosexual who had abused his own priests and consorted with male prostitutes. Ryan still functions as a retired bishop in good standing, laying his dirty, unrepentant hands on a man at his ordination to the priesthood in the Diocese of Joliet on Saturday, March 16, 2002. It is more than a little interesting that Ryan was promoted to the episcopacy by that notorious supporter of the homosexual agenda, Joliet Bishop Joseph R. Imesch. It is scandalous that Ryan is continued to function as a bishop in good standing.
Please, please, do not give me the shopworn line that the Holy Father wants to avoid a de jure schism. Far more dangerous to the Faith than an actual break from Rome on the part of modernist bishops is the de facto schism which permits such bishops to use all of their disciplinary powers against those who promote our living liturgical tradition and against those who want to protect their children from the rot of sex instruction and from doctrinal heresy. Catholics who love God are thus forced in many instances to seek refuge in the catacombs, so to speak, in order to protect their children and to save their own souls, being branded as "disobedient" to their local bishops by going to independent chapels to preserve the Faith whole and undiluted. Indeed, the failure of the Holy Father to supervise the appointment of bishops and his failure to discipline and remove those he has appointed has rendered the institutional Church in most dioceses utterly corrupt and untrustworthy. Men who have juridical power as bishops considered to be in full communion with Rome act as power drunk despots who have a contempt for the Holy Father, knowing full well that they will never be disciplined for their revolutionary activities against the Faith.
And, please, do not tell me how much the Holy Father has done to promote the sanctity of innocent human life. All of the Holy Father's passionate pleas for the defense of the innocent unborn and the elderly and the infirm have been undermined by the fact that many of the men he has appointed as bishops look the other way as contraception and the horrible rot of sex-instruction, which undermines the innocence and purity of the young, are promoted in Catholic schools and colleges and universities and so-called theological workshops. Indeed, the horror of sex instruction is now foisted on Kindergarten students in the name of "AIDS Awareness." The "Gospel of Life" is contradicted when bishops take no action to prevent alleged theatrical productions with unspeakable titles from being performed at Catholic colleges and universities. The sanctity of innocent human life is vitiated when Catholic bishops sign agreements with secular health-care facilities to permit physicians who prescribe contraception and kill babies to have privileges at Catholic hospitals (and to have such "services" made available to patients in Catholic hospitals by means of references provided to them in "separate wings" of those hospitals by the secularists).
Furthermore, the Holy Father has given at least the appearance of religious indifferentism when appearing on an equal footing with rabbis and mullahs, to say nothing of lay men such as the alleged "Archbishop of Canterbury," who is not an ordained priest or bishop. Sure, the Holy Father has written about the importance of avoiding religious indifferentism (see, for example, Redemptoris Missio, 1991). However, he feeds such indifferentism with his Assisi events, and when he praises the voodoo witch doctor for the "contributions" he makes to African tribal life. A picture is worth a thousand encyclical letters. The average Catholic is going to conclude that there is no need to invite people into the true Church (the only means of human salvation) when the Pope himself gives the appearance of indifferentism and universal salvation. And the average non-Catholic interested in converting to the Faith may have second thoughts when the Pope gives the impression, both in action and in speech, that such conversion is unnecessary (as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger more or less said recently when reaffirming Jews in their Judaism).
The failure of the Holy Father to govern the Church is what has led revolutionaries to use the current climate of scandal and cover-up to blame priestly celibacy and the nonadmissability of women to the priesthood as being responsible for the misbehavior of priests. Such is not the case at all. While admitting full well that the weakness of the flesh which is the result of the Fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden, is responsible for the fall of priests who have been faithful to the Deposit of Faith, it is nevertheless true that men who have been noted for the infidelity to the Deposit of Faith are more prone than others to engage in perverse behavior. Their perversity is not the result of the discipline or the teaching of the Church. It is the result of human weakness and/or persistence in unrepentant perversity, a failure either to recognize the necessity of rooting out sin in one's life or the necessity of amending one's life when he falls.
As I note continuously in all of my writing, each of us is a sinner. Each of us bears responsibility for the state of the Church and the world. Each one of our sins wounded the God-Man on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday and wounds His Mystical Body, the Church, today. However, it is one thing to sin and to be sorry, to seek out the mercy of our Lord in the hospital of Divine Mercy which is the confessional. It is quite another to persist in sin unrepentantly, worse yet for those in ecclesiastical authority to do so or to be indifferent to those who do so. Sinners can amend their lives. However, it is important for them to recognize the need to amend their lives and to cooperate with the graces our Lord and our Lady make available to them to do so. What we need to understand is that the scandalous behavior making such headlines at present is the result principally of an un-Catholic, indeed, even anti-Catholic, bias of bishops and priests and educators themselves. Such a bias has been allowed to fester by the Holy Father himself.
This is plain talk. It is tough talk. However, it is written in love. As a son of the Church, I love the Pope and respect him as the Successor of Saint Peter, praying fervently for his needs daily. A respect for the person of the Pope as the Supreme Pontiff does not mean, though, that we lionize him or overlook his administrative weaknesses and his approaches to ecumenism which border on the heretical. Such weaknesses and approaches prove once more the indefectability of the Church: nothing humanly organized could possibly survive the mistakes and sins of those who compose her, including popes and bishops.
No one wants to place the blame for the crisis we are facing at present at the feet of the Pope. The truth is, however, that he is at least partly to blame for the explosion of this crisis by his refusal to govern the Church, for refusing to supervise the appointment of bishops, and for refusing to believe the reports sent to him by concerned members of the clergy and laity alike about the true state of the Church in one diocese after another.
Consider, for example, a report which appeared on WorldNet Daily on Palm Sunday, March 24, 2002:
"In the early 1990s, a group of priests, including [Father Charles] Fiore, assembled a
dossier on ecclesiastical problems in the U.S. The information was carefully collected and documented with guidance on Church law given by the Rev. Alfred Kunz, a canon lawyer.
"Kunz also assisted in the founding of Roman Catholic Faithful. In 1998, Kunz was mysteriously murdered, and the police thus far have been unable to make any conclusive progress toward solving the murder. Fiore described Kunz as "having no enemies - except those who hated the Church."
"According to Fiore, the dossier was sent by courier to Rome. The courier was a Polish-speaking priest and a friend of Pope John Paul II's personal secretary, then-Monsignor, now Archbishop, Stanislaus Dsiewicz.
"Dsiewicz brought the file to the pope's attention. The pope briefly examined the documents, Fiore says, put them aside and then, referring to his previous attempts to lead and discipline the bishops regarding various issues, exclaimed, 'I've told them, and they don't listen to me.' John Paul II, in effect, admitted that the U.S. bishops did not properly lead the Catholic Church in America."
(WorldNet Daily 3/24.)
As men and women of faith, we need to pray to Our Lady, the Mother of the Church, to help us intensify our own efforts to sanctity our own souls. The rebuilding of the Church starts with us. We need to pray, to sacrifice, to fast, to be totally consecrated to our Lady's Immaculate Heart in order to be of true help in the resurrection of the Church, and in order to help this Pope and his successor, whoever he turns out to be, to govern the Church with clarity and firmness for the good of the salvation of souls and thus the right ordering of the world to the Social Kingship of our Lord and the Queenship of our Lady.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
COMING TOMORROW: The Hypocrisy is Astounding!
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives