Settimo Cielodi Sandro Magister
22 feb 19
Second Day of the Summit. With New Accusations Against Bergoglio, From His Argentina
The following are five entries from the notebook of February 22, the second day of the summit between Pope Francis and the leaders of the hierarchy from all over the world, on the subject of the sexual abuse of minors.
1. On the question of the homosexuality that underlies most of the sexual abuse committed by priests, almost all of it with young and very young males above the threshold of puberty, an insurmountable wall of silence continues to be raised.
Questioned at the midday press conference, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the key man of the summit’s organizing committee, reiterated as he had the day before that homosexuality “has nothing to do with sexual abuse of minors.”
2. There reappeared in public, at the press conference, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, until a year ago – and for valid reasons – the pope’s highest delegate in this field, but who later fell into disgrace and was excluded from the preparation of the summit, in spite of the fact that he continues to preside over the pontifical council for the protection of minors.
At his side O’Malley had none other than the two men of whom Pope Francis now avails himself as executors of his wishes: Cardinal Blase Cupich and Archbishop Charles Scicluna.
But this does not mean that O’Malley is on his way to being rehabilitated. It has been announced that for Monday February 25, the day after the end of the summit, Francis has convened a meeting with the members of the organizing committee, “in primis” Cupich and Scicluna, with the heads of the curia dicasteries relevant to the subject and with some experts. And the pontifical council for the protection of minors, with its president O’Malley? Not convened. The pope will continue to do without him.
3. The clash between Rome and the episcopal conference of the United States, which exploded last November with the pope’s ban on putting to a vote two practical decisions on how to oppose the mismanagement of individual bishops in matters of sexual abuse, has come to a head as widely predicted.
In fact it fell to Cardinal Cupich – archbishop of Chicago and a diehard Bergoglian, as well as being a protege of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, now reduced to the lay state because of his misdeeds – to give the official presentation during the summit of the same alternative solution that he himself, in agreement with Rome, had contrasted with what the American episcopal conference intended to put into effect.
In brief, the solution of Cupich and Pope Francis is to entrust the first phase of investigation into the mismanagement of a bishop in matters of sexual abuse not to an independent body of laymen – as in the plan of the American episcopal conference – but to the metropolitan of the bishop’s own ecclesiastical province. With the results of the investigation then being sent to the Holy See, which would see to deciding his fate.
4. Shortly before Cupich, on the morning of February 22, another talk was given at the summit by Indian cardinal Oswald Gracias, who is also a member of the council of 9 cardinals – now reduced to 6 – that assists Francis in the reform of the curia and governance of the universal Church.
Except that a few hours before Gracias was to speak, the BBC posted an article charging him with negligence in handling two cases of sexual abuse committed by priests of his archdiocese of Mumbai, one in 2015 and another in 2009.
On the 2015 case, the archdiocese of Mumbai immediately released a replywith a great deal of detail and conviction in justifying Gracias’s conduct, with all the names of the persons implicated.
Not one word, however, on the 2009 case, which – according to the account of the BBC – would constitute the classic script of the priest not penalized after the charge of the misdeed and left to work with the grave danger of repeating the abuse.
But much more than Cardinal Gracias, it is the pope himself who on the very opening day of the summit was again called to account for the protection he accorded to the Argentine Gustavo Óscar Zanchetta, his friend and spiritual son since he was undersecretary of the Argentine episcopal conference, promoted as bishop of Orán in the summer of 2013, who later resigned for unspecified “reasons of health” in the summer of 2017 but promptly elevated by the pope, in December of that same year, to the Vatican post custom-made for him of “assessor” of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.
Last Christmas the Argentine newspaper “El Tribuno” had broken the news that a complaint against Zanchetta, when he was bishop of Orán, had been forwarded to the nuncio in Argentina, charging him with abusing a dozen seminarians.
On January 4, the director of the Vatican press office denied this news, asserting that the accusations against Zanchetta did not reach the Vatican before the autumn of 2018 and that a preliminary investigation was underway in Argentina to assess their reliability.
On February 21, however, “El Tribuno,” under the byline of the journalist Silvia Noviasky, revisited the topic and provided the documentary proof (see photo) that very detailed charges of bad behavior by Zanchetta had been sent by churchmen of the diocese of Orán to the competent authorities, in Argentina and Rome, on several occasions from 2015 to 2017.
With the corollary that Pope Francis was aware of his protege’s misdeeds well before he accepted his resignation as bishop of Orán and promoted him as assessor of the APSA.
Where Zanchetta is still at his post. With the pope keeping mum, in the thick of the summit convened to bring clarity on this painful chapter in the life of the Church.