Saturday, February 23, 2019

"Strong Women Steal the Show at Vatican Abuse Conference", See Article in Irish Times and Roman Catholic Women Priests Statement of Call for Accountability, Structural Change, and Women in Priesthood and Decision-Making

My Response: I appreciate Sister Veronica,  challenging the disgraceful response of the hierarchy to the clerical sexual abuse crisis. Hopefully, her dressing-down talk will lead to action for reform by the Vatican. The first step toward dealing with a crisis is admitting how bad the problem is. 

 The answers are in plain sight and have been recommended over and over again by many Catholics throughout the world. Since bishops are incapable of "policing" each other when it comes to sexual abuses and cover-ups, lay boards should function in dioceses to hold bishops accountable. These new structures should include women in decision making roles. The clerical system needs to be transformed, into a more collaborative, accountable, circular community-centered model. The future of the Church is in the hands of the people of God who love their faith and should be entrusted as decision-makers in every area of ministry. 

Kudos to the courageous women who are challenging the Vatican today! They are walking in the footsteps of St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. Catherine of Siena. 

Unfortunately, Pope Francis, does not "get it" when he described feminism as "machismo with a skirt."He does not understand human rights include equal rights and equal rites in the Church and world. Until the Roman Catholic Church treats women as beloved images of the divine, and true equals, and adapts  collaborative, accountable and transparent structures , it will remain a bastion of male domination and oppression in the world.  

  Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Sister Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian nun, Reuters

Sister Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian nun who studied in the United States and has worked in Africa and Europe provided one of the strongest voices at the Vatican’s crisis summit on clerical sex abuse. “We proclaim the Ten Commandments and parade ourselves as being the custodians of moral standards and values and good behavior in society. Hypocrites at times? Yes! Why did we keep silent for so long?” she asked, turning to Pope Francis who sat near her as she spoke. “How could the clerical Church have kept silent, covering these atrocities? The silence, the carrying of the secrets in the hearts of the perpetrators, the length of the abuses and the constant transfers of perpetrators are unimaginable?” Openibo was one of only a handful of women present at the four-day conference, which wraps up Sunday with a mass and remarks by the pope. She, along with other women religious, have been particularly hard on the prelates in attendance, many of whom are accused of doing too little to stop abuse in their diocese. “We must acknowledge that our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a Church. We pause to pray, Lord have mercy on us!” — Barbie Latza Nadeau

Beloved of God by David Haas, Inspirational Music, Pray to Become Love

Beloved of God by David Haas

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Rite of Acceptance of Shelley Gilchrist in Roman Catholic Faith - February 20, 2019 - Palm Coast, FL


Shelley Gilchrist February 20, 2019

WELCOME Wanda and Miriam

OPENING SONG: #380 God Has Chosen Me Bernadette Farrell


Bridget Mary: Please join in praying our opening prayer:

All: Loving God, You call each of us by name, to serve our sisters and brothers with our unique gifts. We pray with our sister Shelley as she makes her profession of faith in the Catholic Church. You call her and us this day to be your disciples, committed to reflecting your loving presence everywhere we go.


Miriam: Before we bring our gifts to share at the Banquet of Love, we ask for forgiveness for our failures to love one another and care for God’s creation. (Pause)

All: In your love, we open our hearts to personal growth and healing.

Wanda: We give thanks for Divine Love that fills our souls and makes us one family.

Bridget Mary: Please extend your hands in mutual blessing.
All: Holy One, through his living, dying and rising, Jesus has revealed that nothing can separate us from your infinite love. You love us and you call us to forgive each other our failures, to care for one another and for our earth. Amen



A reading from the book of Sirach 35:12-19, 23-24

For our God, is a God of justice, who knows no favorites. Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet God hears the cry of the oppressed. God is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint. Do not the tears that stream down her cheek cry out against those who cause others to fall?

Those who serve God willingly are heard; their petitions reach the heavens. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; the petitions reach the heavens. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right. God indeed will not delay, and like a warrior, will not be still till God defends the cause of all people, and gladdens them by the Most High’s mercy. Welcome is God’s mercy in time of distress as rain clouds in time of drought. The word of God.

All: Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 148

R Praise and Glory to the Blessed One.

Praise the Blessed One! For through Love all was created And firmly fixed for ever and ever; Yes, the pattern of creation was established.

R Praise and Glory to the Blessed One.

Give praise to the Beloved all the earth, all that swim in the deep, And all winged ones in the air!

R Praise and Glory to the Blessed One. Give praise all you mountains and hills, all trees and all minerals! Give praise all four-legged and all that creep on the ground. 8

R Praise and Glory to the Blessed One.

Leaders of the nations and all peoples, young and old, Give praise! Unite together in all your diversity, that peace and harmony might flourish on earth!

R Praise and Glory to the Blessed One. Let all people praise the Beloved, who is exalted in heaven and on earth; whose glory is above heaven and earth.

R Praise and Glory to the Blessed One.

Praise be to the Blessed One, the very breath of our breath, the very heart of our heart!

R Praise and Glory to the Blessed One.

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans. Rom 12: 9-13, 8:38-39

Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve God. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The word of God.

All: Thanks be to God.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew Mathew 5: 1-14

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

The Good News of Jesus Christ. All: Glory and praise to Jesus, the Beloved of God.

Homily: Bridget Mary will begin then open it to Shelley for her to share.


Bridget Mary:  Shelley, of your own free will, you have asked to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. You have made your decision after careful thought under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I now invite you to come forward with your sponsors and in the presence of this community to profess the Catholic faith. By asking for reception within the Catholic community, you are promising to live justly, to love tenderly and to walk with integrity for all to see and celebrate. Do you promise to do this to the best of your ability?


Shelley: Yes. I believe and profess all that the Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims that is revealed by God, celebrating the equality of women and men in the church and the fullness of life in all creation.

Bridget Mary: (to the sponsors) Miriam and Wanda, do you, on behalf of this community, promise to support Shelley as loving companions in our Church?

Miriam and Wanda: We will.

Bridget Mary: (to the community) I invite you, the members of this Christian Community to join with Shelley in praying the profession of faith.

All: We believe in God as source of life and reality of our evolving universe in God, not apart from us God, in the midst of the human adventure who speaks to us through myth and poetry the cries of the prophets of history and today through the simple declarative sentences and questions of everyday existence.

We believe in the goodness of the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth who walked and talked and ate and drank among us, who gave flesh and blood to the God he demonstrated as loving parent who taught us that the only acceptable sacrifice is a worship that is offered in spirit and in truth.

We believe in his meal of restoration and his washing of feet. His embrace of the lepers and the rejected ones. We believe in his vision of the original covenant renewed over again through the honest love of God and every creature.

We believe in the living Spirit of God; Call to unity in the face of fear and fragmentation; Call to life in the midst of the seductive power of death. Challenge to hope when we exhaust the alternatives we believed.

All: We believe in an equal, gifted community of women and men nourished by that Spirit. Faces turned towards the neediness of humankind sharing together the support and challenge of the Gospel of Jesus.

We believe that only our lives can make our faith credible and so we commit ourselves as individuals and as a community to lives of healing, justice, compassion and loving kindness. Amen. 

 A Statement of Faithfulness by Jay Murnane


Bridget Mary: (laying right hand on candidate says the following) Shelley, we your community receive you and welcome you into the Catholic Church. The Holy One’s loving kindness has led you here so that you may have full communion with us in the faith that you have professed in the presence of this community.

Bridget Mary: (taking the hand of the newly received, says:) It is with great joy that we welcome Shelley to the Catholic Church. Please extend a sign of peace to Shelley and to one another.


Bridget Mary: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we pray for the needs of the people of God in our community and around the world. Our response is:

“Holy One, you hear our prayers.” Please share your spontaneous prayers.

Miriam: We give thanks for all whom we hold in the circle of grace and will continue to pray for and use our talents to serve our sisters and brothers with joyful hearts.

All: Amen.


Lifting up the Bread
Bridget Mary: Blessed are you, Gracious God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.

All: Blessed be God forever.

Lifting up the Cup Wanda: Blessed are you gracious God of all creation, through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.

All: Blessed be God forever.

Miriam: Let us pray that as we celebrate this breaking of break and blessing of wine, we accept more fully the mission of our Creator by actively living our response to God’s call.

All: May our loving God accept these gifts for the praise and glory of God’s name for our good and the good of all God’s church.


Bridget Mary: God is with you.

All: And also with you.

Wanda Lift up your hearts.

All: We lift them up to God.

V 1 O Gracious God, we praise you and rejoice that You call us to be your disciples in our world today. We give thanks for the rich diversity of talents we have in this community. We open this circle of grace to remember the angels and saints and all who have gone before us. Joined with all creation, we lift up our hearts and sing:

We are Holy, Holy, Holy by Karen Drucker

V 2 Ever loving God, in you we live and move and have our being. Each day you show us your love. Your Spirit dwelling in us gives us the hope of unending joy with you.

V 1 You set the table before us O God, and invite all to share in this meal that celebrates your indwelling love everywhere. You call us to see the sacred in our everyday lives, to see your presence in each other and in all creation.

V 2 Nurturing God, we thank you for Jesus, your love made flesh, who came to show us how to live and love in communion with our sisters and brothers, especially those who suffer from poverty, illness and grief, and those who are marginalized by church and society.

All: Now, as we prepare to share the bread of life and lift the cup of joy, we pray, come Holy Spirit deepen your Presence within us and in these gifts of bread and wine.

Bridget Mary: Lifts bread as community extends hands and prays:

All: The night before Jesus died, he showed the depth of his love. Jesus took bread in his hands, said the blessing, broke the bread and shared it with all those present saying: Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my body which will be given up for you. (Pause)

Miriam & Wanda: Lift cups as community extends hands and prays:

All: At the end of the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine, and again he gave you thanks and praise, and then shared the cup with those present saying:

Take this all of you, and drink from it. This is the cup of my blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all. Do this in memory of me.

Bridget Mary: Together let us proclaim the mystery of our faith.

All: In every creature that has ever breathed, Jesus has lived. In every living being that has passed on before us, Jesus has died. In everything yet to be, Jesus will come again.

V 1 Remember, O God, your church spread throughout the world. Make us one body in Christ. We honor the holy women and men, who have revealed your compassion, mercy and justice with the witness of their lives. We thank you for all who show us how to love unconditionally, and who have revealed by their witness, the inclusiveness of the Heart of God.

V 2 We remember our sick and suffering. May they be healed and comforted. We remember our loved ones and all who have died. (Pause briefly to remember and name the departed.) May they experience the joy and fullness of ever lasting life in the embrace of our Compassionate God.

Bridget Mary: Lifts bread Miriam / Wanda lifts cups.

All: Through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus, the love of God is poured out into the whole world through the power of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. All: Sing Amen


All: Our Father /Mother who art in heaven….


Bridget Mary: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread:

(Presiders break the bread)
All: O God of Courage, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly.
O God of Compassion, You call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly.
O God of Truth, You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity in your presence.

(Presiders hold up bread and wine)
Bridget Mary: This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing. Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other. All are welcome to the Feast.

All: What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives; as we share communion, we will become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

COMMUNION SONG: # 344 Spirit and Grace Rickey Manalo,CSP

COMMUNION MEDITATION: Beloved of God by David Haas


All: Life-giving God, through this sacrament of love which we have just received, nourish us and give us strength for the journey. Through the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us, may we continue to be faithful to the mission and ministry of spreading the Good News of Jesus’ love in the world. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the anointed one. Amen


BRIDGET MARY: Please stand and extend your hands in blessing for Shelley 

MIRIAM: May the Spirit inspire you to see the world through fresh, open eyes, to be a soulful visionary, and to lend optimism and hope to all you encounter.

WANDA: May the Spirit transform all you touch with Light, and grant you courage and protection as you go forth in your Divine Life Mission.

All: Amen.

BRIDGET MARY: May the Spirit bring you purity in body, mind, and spirit to nurture you as you nurture others, to support your inner knowing and intuition as you navigate the seen and unseen worlds.

All: May the Spirit grant you wisdom as you seek Divine Truth, Integrity of thought and action, and fortify you with the strength you need to shine your Divine Light in the physical world as only you can.

BRIDGET MARY: And May you always remember, the Source of All lives as a Divine Spark within you, to inspire, renew, and uplift you and all that you meet along your journey. Go now in peace and live the Gospel.

All: Thanks be to God.

CLOSING SONG: #384 With One Voice Ricky Manalo, CSP


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

"Francis inherits decades of abuse" cover-up by Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter

Editor's note: Jason Berry was the first to report on clergy sex abuse in any substantial way, beginning with a landmark 1985 report about the Louisiana case involving a priest named Gilbert Gauthe. In 1992, he published Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children, a nationwide investigation after seven years of reporting in various outlets. In the foreword, Fr. Andrew Greeley referred to "what may be the greatest scandal in the history of religion in America and perhaps the greatest problem Catholicism has faced since the Reformation."
Berry followed the crisis in articles, documentaries, and two other books, Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II (2004) and Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church (2011), which won the Investigative Reporters and Editors Best Book Award. Given the current moment and its possibilities and the fact that Berry is singular in his experience covering the scandal from multiple angles, NCR asked if he would write a reflection on the matter as the church's bishops are about to gather in Rome to consider the issue. Below is the first of three parts.

As the heir to disastrous mistakes of John Paul II and Benedict XVI in their handling of the clergy sex abuse crisis, Francis is an existential pope, trying to chart a way out of the long, aching scandal by forging standards where few exist.
The upcoming meeting of the heads of bishops' conferences from around the world is the latest evidence that what was once considered the scandal of "a few bad apples," or the result of Western permissiveness, or hostile, anti-Catholic media is, in fact, a pathological sickness eating through the church's clerical and episcopal culture. The scandal has gone global. Prosecutors in several countries have church officials under scrutiny for helping predators evade criminal prosecution. 
The "cases" are often old. But as we saw in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, church officials showed Olympian insensitivity to victims, while abetting a criminal sexual underground. Survivors, like the chorus of a Greek tragedy, warn of a moral order being broken.
How did the crisis reach this stage? What feasible reforms can the pope engineer?
An entire generation of Catholics in North America, Ireland and Australia has grown up since the late 1980s' early wave of reports on bishops' recycling of child molesters. Media coverage accelerated in the early 1990s, then ebbed, but surged back when The Boston Globe series in 2002 ignited a chain reaction of media coverage for several years. Last summer, the McCarrick scandal and the Pennsylvania grand jury report fed a resurgence, now more focused on Pope Francis and what he intends to do about it.           
The unswerving story line remains the cover-up of sex offenders, as dioceses and religious orders, belatedly, post names of perpetrators. Some are dead, the cases "old," but the scope of betrayal is stunning. Longtime resistance of Catholic prosecutors in major metropolitan areas has given way to a general Catholic outrage, emboldening police and prosecutors. This is a continuing clash between monarchy and democracy: the church under the pope, as supreme arbiter of canon law, keeps bending to a free press and a court system with subpoena power over secret files.
The Vatican never anticipated that the sheer weight of details about sexual behavior of all kinds in a supposedly celibate culture would spill out, or that callous tactics of concealment would feed the furnace of 24/7 news. 
Francis, too, has blundered on the issue tearing at the church's central nervous system. As the cardinal of Buenos Aires, he approved funding a defense lawyer's report for Fr. Julio Grassi, a convicted pedophile. The document tried to discredit the victims but backfired when Argentina's Supreme Court upheld the 15-year conviction.

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Fr. Julio Cesar Grassi talks to journalists June 10, 2009, after leaving a courtroom in Moron, Argentina. The well-known Argentine priest who had operated a program for troubled youths, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for one count of sexual abuse and one count of corrupting a minor. (CNS/Marcos Brindicci, Reuters)
Many bishops are reporting clerics to the police when allegations arise; but what they do with problem priests is symptomatic of a culture that cannot change without the oversight that comes with a true separation of powers. Former Duquesne University law dean Nicholas Cafardi, also a noted canon law scholar, said in 2010, "When it came to handling child sexual abuse by priests, our legal system fell apart." Bishops failed to enforce canon law.
Francis' credibility took a serious hit by refusing to say why he did not remove McCarrick sooner. But popes famously do not criticize previous popes. McCarrick got his red hat from John Paul II, and a free pass from Benedict, landing at Francis' doorstep to become a scandal.
In 2009, under Benedict, McCarrick presided at the televised funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy. That was two years after two New Jersey dioceses paid settlements to a former priest who claimed that when he was a seminarian, the then-bishop coerced him into sleeping with him, and that McCarrick molested him. I had heard rumors of the lawsuits but had nothing on paper, no one on the record. Watching McCarrick on TV, I wondered if news lights would ever shine on the bishop's nights in a New Jersey beach house. It only took nine years.
 McCarrick is Exhibit A in the warped theology of apostolic succession, bishops as a spiritual lineage descending from Jesus' apostles. Thirty-nine American bishops, many now deceased, "stepped down" under personal accusations. McCarrick is the first to actually be defrocked. As the tradition evolved, apostolic succession erased the memory of Judas the betrayer, conferring de facto immunity on cardinals and bishops by popes allowing sins to be forgiven. Crimes against children were translated into sin.
"Fraternal correction," bishops overseeing one another, as advised in 2004 by the lay National Review Board convened by the U.S. bishops to confront the building crisis, was doomed to fail. The breadth of that failure, spanning seas and continents, is a story gaining legs.
A new cardinal makes a vow to the pope to protect the church from scandal; the oath binds them to a code of secrecy on crimes, sexual and otherwise.
Pope Francis should abolish that gross anachronism: end the vow of silence that rationalizes cover-up schemes.

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Pope Francis meets then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick during his general audience at the Vatican June 19, 2013. (CNS/Vatican Media)
The other pivotal change Francis should make is to establish an independent criminal judiciary at the Vatican, superseding canon law tribunals, autonomous from the Roman Curia, to investigate and prosecute cardinals, bishops and religious order superiors.
As a sovereign monarch the pope has the power to authorize such a legal arena subject to rules of Western law. The church of Rome is already bowing to state and civil investigations; establishing its own court to oversee church officials would be proactive, and free Francis — and future popes — from having to intervene after the glacial pace of Vatican investigations, which draw on news reports and forensic findings of state investigations.                                                 
A group of Catholic constitutional lawyers could forge the bylaws while allowing the canonical system to do what it is designed to: maintain the administration of the church. Most important, an independent Vatican court, staffed with qualified investigators, would free the Holy Father to provide moral and spiritual leadership, without having to intervene each time scandals flare, letting justice proceed however long it takes to rid church officialdom of men dirty from cover-ups or sexual liabilities of their own. 

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Pope Francis, seated next to Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, discusses preservation of the family in Synod Hall at the Vatican Nov. 17, 2014, during the opening of a three-day interreligious conference on traditional marriage. (CNS/Chris Warde-Jones, courtesy
Francis did approve a canon law tribunal to oversee bishops at Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; it was blocked by the former prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who, as a bishop, had shielded a predator back in Germany. Cardinals and bishops cannot police their own.
The Curia's cynicism undercuts the pope's role as a moral statesman on the world stage. Francis is a true voice of human rights, raising the issue of moral justice for Christians persecuted in the Middle East, and migrants seeking safe lives in the West. With Poland, Italy and Hungary in the grip of neo-fascist regimes, and Western stability threatened by Trump-inspired demagogues, demonizing migrants to further nationalism, Francis gives strength to the role of pope as advocate for peace. What other politician on the global stage is taking such stands?
On the abuse crisis, he is a work-in-progress.
John Paul was passive toward the evidence of criminal acts by priests and averse to punishing bishops. Canadian Bishop Hubert O'Connor of British Columbia resigned his office (but not his rank) in 1991; he did six months in prison after forcing a young First Nations seamstress he seduced and impregnated into a home for unwed mothers; the bishop changed the child's name on the birth certificate to conceal his paternity and made sure the baby was adopted. The conviction was reversed on a technicality; out of prison, he never held church office again. Of him, the Vatican and John Paul said not a word. Hubert O'Connor died a bishop.
Francis defrocked a Peruvian bishop for sexual abuse in 2013. Last year he defrocked two Chilean bishopsfor sexual abuse and accepted the resignations of seven others for concealing sex offenders. This happened after he defended a controversial bishop, Juan Barros, from "calumny."
The pope's remark ignited a media firestorm in Chile. Changing gears, Francis ordered a Vatican investigation of Chile's scandals; he spent long sessions at Casa Santa Marta with three Chilean abuse survivors. After the papal investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna delivered a 2300-page report, the nation's 31 bishops submitted their resignations. Barros' was one that Francis accepted.
As 24 Chilean bishops await word, a government investigation there bears down on two cardinals, once close to Francis, for allegedly concealing sex offenders: Ricardo Ezzati and his mentor, Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa.
"Two bishops kicked out of the priesthood – you never see that," says Juan Carlos Cruz, a former Chilean journalist, and nationally known survivor who spent years criticizing Barros for defending Cruz's perpetrator, Fernando Karadima, a Santiago pastor with a cult following.
"I get a call from the Vatican late last March, inviting me, and two friends also abused by Karadima, to a meeting at the Vatican. The pope issued a letter to the world saying he'd made grave mistakes and apologized. So we went. We stayed in Santa Marta [the papal residence.] Each of us had time with him. I stayed a week, spent three hours the first day by myself with him, telling him the reality I'd lived through. I wanted him to see me as the norm, not the exception for survivors. I didn't mince words. He was open-hearted. He told me he had been engañado, lied to, by bishops, especially Errázuriz, who was one of his original nine cardinal advisors. No longer."                                                                         
Francis also defrocked Karadima.                                                               
"Chile needs to be a model, the norm, for how you deal with this culture of abuse and cover-up," Cruz says.
If Chile becomes the model, imagine America with the staggering volume of information disgorged by legal proceedings and the press, at How many facts does the pope need to sack the worst bishops? Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the foremost papal investigator, has countless roadmaps. Some cases are glaring. Why is Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, a catalyst in one of the worst debacles of the American church -- with proven cases of predators recycled under his watch -- still a cardinal? Why is John Nienstedt, the disgraced archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a ham-fisted cover-up artist, still a titular archbishop?
Why didn't Pope Benedict oust Mahony, or Frank Rodimer, the Patterson, New Jersey, bishop whose diocese paid $250,000 for his role in allowing Fr. Peter Osinski to molest a boy over the several summers they stayed down the hall from Rodimer's bedroom in the bishop's beach house? Osinski went to prison. Rodimer retired. He died at 91 in December 2018, a bishop in full standing.
If dispatching papal investigators to far-flung countries is the "new norm," then the pope looms as police chief over a scandal-saturated hierarchy whose support he needs in his efforts to shift the church's focus to radical mercy, embracing the fate of migrants, the injustices behind climate change and to foster a church ethos to welcome its alienated believers.                               
Cruz, a practicing Catholic, stated in May after staying at the papal residence, Francis told him: "Juan Carlos, it doesn't matter that you are gay. God made you that way and he loves you the way you are, and it doesn't matter to me. The pope loves you the way you are; you have to be happy with who you are."        
Imagine the impact if those words were taught in Catholic schools.

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Juan Carlos Cruz smiles following a meeting with Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, Italy, in late February 2018 at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus in New York City. (CNS/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters)
The pope's big tent pastoral approach clashes with the ultra-conservatives' scapegoating of homosexual priests, ignoring female victims, documented cases of priests and bishops with female companions, and avoiding scrutiny of the clerical culture's varied sexual behavior patterns, as documented in the public record. Robert Sanchez resigned as archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1993 for seducing teenage girls. He became a prelate-without-portfolio, and died an archbishop in 2012.
 The church's well-funded hard right, typified by the Napa Institute and Catholic League, resembles the "Knothead" camp from Love in the Ruins, Walker Percy's prophetic 1971 novel. "The American Catholic Church, which emphasizes property rights and the integrity of neighborhoods, retained the Latin mass and plays The Star-Spangled Banner at the elevation," of the host, wrote Percy, a convert who died in 1990.
As a substantial literature and years of news reporting have shown, the priesthood is a large closet, gay cliques abound, many with entrenched power. The issue is not that homosexuals are more apt to abuse youngster than heterosexuals, and certainly not that gay people are less spiritual or more immoral than straights, but how clericalism — a parallel world — circles the wagons for those inside of it. Many priests and Catholics who happen to be gay have watched the increased scrutiny of this reality for years without a rational forum for open discussion with petrified bishops and cardinals — witness the fusillades of hatred against Jesuit Father James Martin for his outreach to gays, acknowledging reality in a search for moral values. Now that ideological entrepreneurs of the Catholic right have made homosexual networks the hot-button issue, they turn the guns on Francis, who emerged from the 2013 conclave into the Roman Curia's sexual netherworld, for not rooting out the hypocrisy that escaped the probity of Benedict and John Paul for decades before him.
In a book just being publishedIn the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, Frédéric Martel writes, "Homosexuality is also one of the keys that explain the institutionalized cover-up of sexual crimes and misdemeanors, of which there are now tens of thousands. Why? How? Because the 'culture of secrecy', which was necessary to maintain silence about the huge presence of homosexuality inside the Church, has made it possible to hide sexual abuse, and for predators to benefit from this system of protection within the institution." Martel's book has no bibliography (a website referenced in galleys did not appear on Google as this story was published) and the overwhelming reliance on interviews, without citations of published works, is problematic. But the Roman Curia's hypocrisy on homosexuality has fed European media reports for years, making Martel's work important.
The American bishops' 2002 youth protection charter gave many dioceses a "zero tolerance" goal, which helped sensitize some bishops to settle cases, apologize and meet with survivors; the charter doesn't cover religious orders, nor does it contain oversight provisions for bishops, nor has it halted all of the brass-knuckle legal strategies.                                                           
How bishops think is a mystery still unraveling.                 
[Jason Berry is the author most recently of City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300.]