In January, when I shared my intuition that 2018 was going to be “a year of defying expectations,” “of things not going at all the way we think they will,” and, in fact, “the beginning of the end for Francis and Friends” – I didn’t know what that would look like. It was just a gut feeling, a sense of a shifting of the winds, a turning of the tide, if you will. At the time, I wrote that I didn’t know how it would happen or what we’d get later.
Now, nine months later, things are coming into focus. A nonstop barrage of bad news for this papacy and the explosive re-emergence of the clerical abuse scandal – with implications going all the way to the apostolic see – have shifted public opinion dramatically. Catholic commentators who would have rolled their eyes at the kind of coverage we were providing here just last year are suddenly out in front, leading charges against the corruption in Rome. It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly everything changed, as though a single spark were enough to light a spiritual conflagration of awakening.
And perhaps it was Our Lady who lit the match.
Now we’re drowning in the fallout. There are far too many stories to cover exposing the true nature of the anti-Church that now co-exists with authentic Catholicism. We can see symptoms of it everywhere. Of recent note: the story of how Cardinal Schönborn, editor of the Catechism and handpicked interpreter of Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis, spontaneously blessed the union of arguably the most notorious gay couple in Austria; the report accusing Monsignor Walter Rossi, longtime rector of the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, of being part of the gay mafia in D.C. just as his predecessor, Bishop Michael Bransfield, has been accused of the same; and the story of how Cardinal Cupich has mistreated a priest who, himself a victim of clerical sexual abuse, burned a rainbow flag that once adorned the sanctuary of his parish. In all of these things, we see signs that the escalation of the conflict between good and evil within the Church – and a possible schism along with it – is coming faster and more furiously than ever before. These stories are all taken from just the past few days, and more are coming all the time.
At the same time, I would caution that as bad as the homosexual and abuse crisis is – and it’s terrifying – we should be equally or more concerned about the attacks on doctrine, on the Gospels, on the structures and offices and credibility of the Church. The homosexual cabal is an instrument in the larger attempt to destroy the institution of the Church, her sacraments, her sacred priesthood, the papacy, and her efficacy in sharing divine teaching and saving souls. We’ve got to be careful about letting this be the only area of focus. Because while everyone is distracted by the sexual abuse train wreck, they’re still ramming things through – like the recent apostolic constitution on synods that will be used to force things into the category of magisterial teaching that do not belong there.
We have to keep our eyes on both.
What seems clear, too, is that the pope, once seemingly untouchable, is on his heels. Day after day, homily after homily, he has likened his plight and that of the bishops under fire to that of Christ during His passion, and he has painted his critics and opponents as agents of Satan. One person in Rome told me that Francis, in this contact’s opinion, is “terrified.”
I’m not so sure.
There is a danger in assuming that the advantage will remain ours. There is a danger in failing to continue to press the attack. For all of his rhetorical homiletic firebombs, the pope has continued to stand by his silence in the face of his accusers. Archbishop Viganò remains in hiding for fear of his life. And the upcoming synods this year and next will move forward under the auspices of the new, more authoritative construct already being applied to their final outcome per this week’s apostolic constitution. What this means is that the Church’s approach to homosexual behavior, clerical celibacy, and women’s ordination (at least to the diaconate) are all very much up for grabs in the minds of Church leaders. Remember that the German bishops, having encountered data indicating thousands of cases of abuse by their clergy, have decided that these are the issues that need to be reconsidered in the light of their findings.
The well of anger from the lay faithful, though deep, is not inexhaustible. Even if it were possible, it is unhealthy to sustain a state of rage, day in and day out, for as long as this will take. The willingness of the secular media to go after a pope who has championed so many of their pet issues remains unclear, with division in the ranks. The occupied Vatican has taken fire, but when the dust settles, how much damage will have been sustained? The investigations into abuse claims now being undertaken by civil governments will go on for years. Will a steady drip of horrifying revelations be enough to drive the infiltrators out, or will a disgusted public only turn to apathy and sustained antipathy?
Just yesterday, a friend told me of being out in public with a priest in a Roman collar, only to have a man who saw him grumble about there being a “child-molester” in the building. Will such sentiments increase to the point of actual persecution? Will the faithful – priests and laity alike – suffer the consequences of this anger while the leaders who are actually responsible for it continue to live in luxury, protected from reproach, like the tinpot dictators they are?
After doing this for four years, I will say it’d be nice to be able to have victory in sight. But we’re not there yet. We’ve got to gear up for a sustained fight. We’ve got to pace ourselves – which, if I’m being honest on a Friday afternoon after a month of nonstop knock-down, drag-out airing of dirty laundry and internecine struggles within our faith, sounds absolutely exhausting. But as I told you in my story about the Seven Devils, sometimes the only way out of the mountains is over the top, even if you’ve got nothing left in the tank and have to stumble forward in the dark by only the light of faith.
So today, I’m asking you to join forces with us for the long haul. I’ll be honest with you: I’m feeling the strain of wading through these fever swamps every day. We need more help. We need more fresh soldiers. We need more eyes on the prize.
Today we are at 75% of our monthly fundraising goal. It’s not enough. We need to be hitting 100%, and more. We’re going to have to raise our goals soon if we’re going to bring more fighters to our bench. We’ve been working to make it on the same income for the past two years, and the demand has grown. Since the beginning of August, our traffic has nearly doubled. We’ve got tips coming in from all over on stories, and we don’t have enough people to follow up on all of them.
Your tax-deductible contribution, no matter how small it may seem to you, moves us forward another inch. It helps us to hold this ground. We know that others are asking you to be generous. We know that your resources are limited. We ask only that you do what you can, if you can, to help us continue to press the attack against the enemy within the Church.
We have strength in numbers. We have what Catholics at the time of Vatican II and the imposition of everything that came after did not: the internet, social media, a means to fight back against clerical corruption and to protect what we hold most dear.
We will not be silent. Will you join us?
God bless you, and thank you for all that you do.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.