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Friday, February 15, 2013

First Things Prophecy on Cardinal Sodano

One of the more interestint dynamics in talking about the Catholic Church in general and the Vatican in particular is the temptation one often sees to force every issue into a liberal/conservative ideological or theological grid. What that often misses is that there are numerous issues that speak to the common faith and moral vision that virtually all Catholics share in common. Passionate disappointment in the hierarchy's response to sexual abuse is one of those issues. My recent posts critical of the work of Cardinal Sodano, and encouraging of the work of Cardinal Schonborn, should not be seen as merely the musings of a progressive/Commonweal Catholic like me. In fact, some of the clearest writing on Cardinal Sodano has come from First Things. Here, for instance, is Jody Bottum writing for First Things in 2010 and warning in the final sentence quoted about precisely what is about to happen:

"Cardinal Sodano has to go. The dean of the College of Cardinals, he has been found too often on the edges of scandal. Never quite charged, never quite blamed, he has had his name in too long a series of depositions and court records and news accounts—an ongoing embarrassment to the Church he serves. The Vatican has been responding in a disorganized way to the frenzy of recent press stories about often thirty-year-old abuse cases. What it should do is put its own house in order, moving out the unhelpful remnants of the bureaucracy that allowed those scandals to fester for so long.

The latest revelations concern the financial benefits Cardinal Sodano received from Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the corrupt conman who founded the Legion of Christ and its associated lay group, Regnum Christi. And those revelations follow hard on the 2008 convictions of Raffaello Follieri for wire fraud and money laundering. (Follieri’s company, you’ll remember, was trading in decommissioned church property, and it relied for its crimes on the prestige of having Cardinal Sodano’s nephew as its vice president.) That news, in turn, followed the cardinal’s reported role in thwarting a 1995 investigation into the subsequently proved accusations against the episcopal molester in Vienna, Hans Hermann GroĆ«r.

In one sense, of course, it’s very sad. A long career in the Church is not ending well, and it would be kinder to protect the man and let him slip away unnoticed. But Cardinal Sodano himself seems unwilling to let it be so. Speaking of the stories that were on the front page of nearly every newspaper in the world, he told the pope publicly at Easter this year, “The people of God are with you and do not allow themselves to be impressed by the petty gossip of the moment.”

Petty gossip? There’s room for complaint about the way the scandals have been used to advance every agenda under the sun, but when the subject is abused and sodomized children, petty is not the adjective of choice. Even in a season of mismanaged Vatican responses to the frenzy of the press, Sodano’s line was stunningly tone-deaf, and it served mostly to give the media yet another day of headlines. As things stand, if (God forbid) Pope Benedict were to die, the obsequies would be led by Cardinal Sodano—and the newscasts, hour after hour, would feature rehashes of all that is now associated with his name." (Emphasis added)

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