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On the Pope and Abuse, Who Are the Real ‘Falsifiers of the Word’?

“Pope Francis will meet with all of the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences at the Vatican next February 21-24, ‘to speak about the prevention of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.’” So reported Vatican News, using the words of the assistant director of the Vatican Press Office, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, at the briefing held this week at the end of the meeting of the C9, the Council of Cardinals for the reform of the Curia.

Then we read an editorial in Avvenire, where Stefania Falasca recommended that we “must not become disoriented by the falsifiers of the word who are besieging the church at this time” and called us “to follow the ordinary Magisterium of the successor of Peter. The pope is not a celebrity. In his ordinary preaching he does not speak about himself.” Falasca affirmed that “symptoms are multiplying of an evil that seems to be spreading like a collective hysteria, in which everything becomes a matter of denigration and receives a sinister interpretation to the point where it is considered normal and licit to call for the resignation of the pope as if he were the head of a company or a political party.”

“Falsifiers of the word.” While we were reading that phrase, we were thinking of McCarrick; of Tegucigalpa; of Boston and its seminary; and of the many other cases in Germany, Chile, the USA, and also here in Italy, even if for now the denunciations here are only subdued and anonymous. It is a crisis that, as has been affirmed by many, is one of “pervasive homosexuality” of priests and bishops, but about which the institutional Church says nothing. Nothing is said about it in the announcement of the meeting of the Bishops’ Conferences next February (February! That is five months from now…), nor did the pope mention it in his letter to the Chilean bishops, and in other official communications no mention of it is made. Why? What is it that they don’t want to say? Are we wrong for thinking there are those who “falsify the word” by intentional omission? In order to cover up whom and what?

Falasca is correct to advise us to follow the ordinary Magisterium. But, ahem, the pope is also a person, who just like everybody else has greater or lesser credibility according to the correspondence between what he says and what he does. And it is precisely for this reason that is so important, for me and for millions of others, to know the truth about whether Archbishop Viganò spoke to the pope on June 23, 2013 about who Theodore McCarrick was, what he had done, and what he was still doing. Because if it is true, and Pope Bergoglio not only did nothing, but also rehabilitated McCarrick and followed his advice in naming bishops and cardinals in the USA, favoring friends and protégés of McCarrick, the pope’s credibility when he presides over the umpteenth Vatican conference next February will not be the same as it would be if Viganò has lied or is perhaps mistaken.

This is why those who, instead of trying to find out whether this – a fact, not an opinion – is true or not, blabber on about conspiracies and attacks on the pope and all the rest are “falsifiers of the word” by default. In democracies, where there is free speech, people can ask those in authority about the truth of whether something happened or not. Under regimes, no: a request for transparency and truth is immediately labeled as an assault on the charismatic leader, on the “Little Father” or the “Great Helmsman” and so forth. And the “falsifiers of the word” who react immediately attempt to discredit those who ask the questions, normally by accusing them of having numerous ignoble motives. This also is what we have seen happening.

Leaving aside the question of his resignation, it is the personal and human credibility of the pope that is now at stake. This creates a great drama for many Catholics and perhaps also for some who are not Catholic. Because of this, the “falsifiers of the word,” in their long dissertations and analyses, avoid any mention of this point – a point to which silence, however it may be adorned and embellished, does not constitute an adequate response. A monkey dressed in silk remains a monkey. In a vague manner, the C9 has referred to the possibility that the Holy See may formulate “any necessary clarifications” in response to “what has happened in recent weeks.”

Meanwhile, even the most vocal detractors of Archbishop Viganò now admit that “it is evident that the former nuncio to the United States has cited dates and documents in his possession (or which he has seen) about which there is no reason to doubt.” An important admission. And perhaps this means he also was not mistaken about his audience with Pope Bergoglio on June 23, 2013? The “clarifications” about this event will be key, perhaps above everything else.

Editor’s note: This article is translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino. The original ran in Italian at La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.

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