Among the many anniversaries in June 2020, one passed by entirely uncommented in the Vatican: Ted McCarrick’s first exposure as a pervert and criminal child abuser. One appreciates the Vatican’s reluctance to toot its own horn in these regards – it was anything but a given that they would choose the quiet route – but the announcement of three new invocations for Our Lady of Loreto precisely on the second anniversary was perhaps unfortunately timed.
Either Pope Francis wasn’t thinking of the significance of the calendar date on which he made the announcement, or he was. Folks can argue over which is worse.
People in the United States are especially anxious to learn what the Vatican knew, and when. They’re anxious to know who at the Vatican knew what, and when they knew it. One understands the desire and shares it. The prior question, which really cuts to the heart of the crisis in ecclesiastical leadership culture, is: Why didn’t they know?
These guys are experts at not knowing. That is pretty much the diametrical opposite of the job title: Episkopos is the Greek word from which we get the English “Bishop”. It means “Overseer”.
When the report does finally drop – maybe it will have, by the time this goes to press – this old Vatican watcher will be more interested in what’s left out of it, than he will be in what is in it. Pope John Paul II – a saint in heaven, to whom we do well to pray – cannot escape from a report worth its salt, without significant criticism of his leadership record. Benedict XVI – who may well have known more than his erstwhile principal – will have less cover. Likewise, Cardinal Angelo Sodano cannot hope to escape with his reputation intact.
Those are only the biggest of the big names which could take a hit over this sordid business.
This is just a guess, but there’s a nickel says Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, one of St John Paul’s closest associates, will bear the brunt of the blame for whatever the report’s redactors decide to make their version of what went wrong. Dziwisz is an outsider in today’s Vatican, closely associated with John Paul II’s pontificate and singularly loyal to his former head man.
In any case, the scope of the investigation was too narrow to be really useful to the public. In essence, it was an internal review of documents on file; and, the nearly two years it has taken the Vatican to prepare the report have been so filled with opacity regarding the process and naked temporizing with respect to its release, that it is basically impossible to trust it.
One hopes – in the colloquial sense – that one is wrong about this. One suspects we shall all have to rely on the theological virtues to get us through.