It’s Time to Turn Down the Temperature
National Catholic Register, 4 September 2018
There is a reasonable way forward, both in terms of rooting out corruption in the Church and restoring a measure of harmony.
Ten days out from the “testimony” of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the scene at the Vatican appears to have gone from bad to worse. But that does not mean that there is not a reasonable way forward, both in terms of rooting out corruption in the Church and restoring a measure of harmony.
It was a mistake for Archbishop Viganò to call for the resignation of Pope Francis. For the Pope to resign under a cloud would be a catastrophe for Catholic credibility and unity. The mistake that Benedict XVI made by abdicating in 2013 need not be compounded by people — especially high-ranking prelates — treating the papal office as something worldly that can be relinquished under adverse circumstances.
It was also a mistake for some of those defending Pope Francis to denounce the character and truthfulness of Archbishop Viganò himself. The denunciations were a tactical mistake, as it turns out that, on unrelated matters — Archbishop John Nienstedt and Kim Davis — Archbishop Viganò’s account was proved to be correct on the major points. While the character assassination might have muddied the waters for a few days, it is clarity on the central issues — what was known about the misconduct of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and how the matter was addressed by Benedict XVI and by Francis — that is important.
It goes without saying that the spectacle of Archbishop Viganò saying that Cardinal Donald Wuerl “lies shamelessly,” only to have Archbishop Viganò’s detractors say that he is the real “liar,” does nothing for the mission of the Church.
The feverish climate led those with (extremely) short memories to consider this moment without precedent, as if there were only two outcomes: Archbishop Viganò is right, and the Pope must resign; or Archbishop Viganò is wrong and evidence of de facto schism on the part of the opponents of Pope Francis.
It’s time to turn down the temperature. Of course it would be very damaging to the Holy Father personally and to the Church generally if Archbishop Viganò’s charges are true. It would, first of all, frustrate justice and reconciliation for the victims of Archbishop McCarrick and further fray the nerves of the Catholic faithful. But we have been here before — for most of 2018, in fact.
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