We have another pope who needs to resign. The bombshell report from the Papal Nuncio, which hit the press in the middle of the night here in Europe on Sunday morning, reveals the depth of the evil. By the time this post is up, most of the readers will be seeing the headlines or have seen them on how Pope Francis did not follow up on the Pope Emeritus’ dossier handed to him, and that he did not follow up the charges against Cardinal McCarrick.
This is a situation Pope Francis cannot ignore. He is still in Ireland as I write this, and I hope he addresses this serious situation more than he did on Saturday.
If he is forced to step down, we shall be facing another papal election. Some people, who in my opinion, have other reasons for leaving the church, will do so. Others, like myself, will trust in God in the midst of the revelation of sin and evil we have witnessed in the past two weeks. We are not the first Catholics to be bombarded with evil within the ranks of the clergy. The only difference this time, is that attempts have been made to change age-old Church teaching.
Evil in the clerical hierarchy is not new. We have to face our own condition, pray, fast, and hope that God raises up saints to deal with this.
That is what happened in the past—saints combated the evil of certain popes and cardinals. This time, because of the scope of the evil, possibly involving every diocese in the United States, and most likely Europe, if not South America as well, the remnant of faithful Catholics will need to cling to their relationship with Christ and with the good priests, bishops, and cardinals in the Church.
Throughout the history of the Church, we have witnessed a combination of saints and sinners in the hierarchy. There are some attempts among traditional Catholics to claim the recent horrific crisis is all owing to the fall-out of Vatican II. This lack of knowledge and understanding as to the history of the Church causes some commentators, journalists and media pundits to blame all the current crisis on the Novus Ordo Mass, or on new types of men entering seminaries.
I want to present the perspective of history, not to shock people, but to show that during the long history of our beloved Church, there have been quite horrible men ruling in various levels of the hierarchy. This perspective is not to condone or lessened the terrible crimes daily in the press now, (and we shall see more, I am afraid). Some of us have been aware of homosexuality in the seminaries for over 40 years, my self included. When I was the only girl in college taking philosophy and theology classes, I discovered that seven of my male friends, with whom I shared these classes, were practicing homosexuals. All were seminarians. Thankfully, these men dropped out of the seminary one by one, and to my knowledge, not one was ordained. However, it was clear they had been groomed in the minor seminaries of their order and that priests at the highest level of their organisation were also practicing homosexuals.
The problem in the past is that there was no voice for the victims. There was consistent cover-up by nuns, sisters, priests, heads of religious orders, and bishops. I have referred to the fact in public that four members of my family were abused for years as children in a boarding school by the priest who was the chaplain and confessor. The nuns, when approached by some of the children, including two of my family, did nothing about it and denied that a priest would do such things. End of story for those victims, none of which left the Church and all raised their children as Catholics. However, damage was done psychologically.
I have friends who experienced levels of post-traumatic stress, especially severe, complex post-traumatic stress as a result from being abused as very young altar boys for years and years. Again, these things happened before it was politically correct to accuse a priest of such activity in evil.
My point in this preamble is that my history lesson is not to undermine the deep pain of the victims, but to show that people were victimised in the past, and that our higher moral standard NOW will not allow this to happen again, I hope and pray.
A few examples of past evil in the Church will suffice. All of these cases are documented, most before modern times, and I shall give a short bibliography at the end of each section.
I shall concentrate on a few popes. I pick on the popes as documentation is easier to find on papal sins than on the sins of bishops and the secular or religious clergy. This makes sense, as popes have always been high profile and historians even of their times would have been interested in their sins.
Rather than cause great consternation, let me say that the saints, many of whom were men who cleaned up religious orders or secular seminaries, are noted for strict, sexual discipline. St. Anselm is only one of the great saints who cleaned out clerical abuses in Great Britain. There were other reformers.
However, I want to put into perspective the present times in order to show Catholics we do not have to despair or leave the Church, but pray for holy priests, bishops, and cardinals, and especially, pray that this current pope deals harshly with the situation. I hear from Vatican insiders that he has appointed Archbihsop Scicluna of Malta to come to America to deal with the crisis, but I have seen nothing in the main stream media about this. I hope this is true. I also hope it is true that the pope has the CDF involved in an investigation of the United States problem. Let us pray this is all true news and not fake news.
To return to my points—let me highlight only a few sad cases of abuse of power and the past evils of homosexual as well as heterosexual activities which popes perpetrated, breaking their vows as well as causing scandal.
One of the most obvious cases of bi-sexual activity was that of Cardinal Innocenzo Ciocchi del Monte, one of the most notorious sinners of his day. Some historians implicated Pope Juilius III in de Monte’s crimes, and the fact that the pope singled him out for favour is suspicious, as del Monte was legitimised by the pope, in order to make him a cardinal at the age of 22. Without going into detail, I just want to point out that things got so public that the pope had to banish him, although he was a favourite, and although the pope, according to witnesses at the time, favoured boys, as being lover of young men.
One does not have to have details to realise that the great scandals involving Juliius III and del Monte provided historians for grist for the mill. Thankfully, Julius III was pope for only five years, from 1550-1555. BTW, Julius II sinned heterosexually, and married off his daughters to nobility. I am concentrating on homosexuality here.
A second bad pope was Leo X. Francesco Guicciardini was one of the leading writers, papal advisors, and historians of his time. His dates are 1483-1540. He was well-known in his own time, and his work the History of Italy, revealed papal sins. Guicciardini wrote ten other works, and is considered today a source of information of his time. However, he was also a cruel imposer of punishment, appointed by Clement VII to prosecute and punish opponents of that pope. As to sexual improprieties, the arrogant and ambitious historian, a friend of Machiavelli, although he disagreed with some of his ideas, had no qualms about writing about papal sins. However, his information was corroborated by Father Paolo Giovio, who also was a prolific writer and who worked under both Leo X, who appointed him to high donors and chairs at the Roman University. Giovio refers to the sins of Leo X as well. Again, homosexuality seemed to be the major sin, and as one historian noted, the time was given over to paganism. Sounds like today…Leo X is famous for his quotation, “Let us enjoy the papacy since God has given it to us” and another quotation from the second source below states: “Leo X is in great measure to blame for the fact that faith in the integrity and merit of the papacy, in its moral and regenerating powers, and even in its good intentions, should have sunk so low that men could declare extinct the old true spirit of the Church.”
A text referring to this time is Leone X, by C. Falconi, published in Milan in 1987
One last sad case is that of Benedict IX, whose horrid life was addressed and who inspired St. Peter Damian to write a treatise on illicit sex. This Doctor of the Church was a reformer, as was his friend, Pope Gregory VII.
I choose this quotation from wiki-you can look up the references. Thankfully, this pope resigned. And, there is a misunderstanding as to how many popes resigned. I suggest readers find a hefty history of the papacy to correct that idea.
Accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of “many vile adulteries.” Pope Victor III referred in his third book of Dialogues to “his rapes… and other unspeakable acts.” His life prompted Peter Damian to write an extended treatise against illicit sex in general, and homosexuality in particular. In his Liber Gomorrhianus, Damian accused Benedict IX of routine sodomy and bestiality and sponsoring orgies. In May 1045, Benedict IX resigned his office to get married.
Not all bishops are bad, nor are all popes. Christ promised that the Church would last until His Second Coming. I believe this. However, this does not mean that the Church will not disappear in certain parts of the world. The United States may be one of these places, at least in many areas, in many states.
Let us pray that Truth prevails, but also that this present Pope takes responsibility for his actions and non-actions.
JMJ, pray for us!
God is Good,