Twitter was sent into meltdown Thursday when the Vatican released an official image of Pope Francis meeting with US cardinals and bishops to discuss the recent sexual abuse scandal that has been engulfing the church. Despite the serious nature of such a topic, bizarrely, the Cardinals, and even Pope Francis himself, were seen laughing and smiling during their supposedly serious conversation.
The Vatican’s own media operation just released this photo of Pope Francis meeting two US cardinals to discuss the sexual abuse crisis. Take a look. pic.twitter.com/gkPOTbEhJX
— Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) September 13, 2018
The important meeting involved senior clergy members Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, who leads the US Conference of Bishops, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Horacio Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Francis has come under increased pressure to answer the accusations laid out against him in bishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s bombshell letter that was released last month. Amongst various other accusations, Viganò asserted that Francis has willingly protected the now disgraced former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, despite knowing full well that he was an abusive character.
Needless to say, Twitter users were not best pleased with this show of jovial brotherhood between these senior churchmen at such a gravely seriously time.
What a terribly insensitive photo. This problem is no laughing matter.
— Don (@Don77492288) September 13, 2018
“They look like they’re having a good time talking about rape,” one user commented. “Whoever in Vatican’s Press Office decided this was an appropriate depiction of today’s meeting should be fired,” raged another.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo subsequently released a statement saying that the meeting had been “fruitful.”
“We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States – how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart,” DiNardo stated, according to Catholic News Agency. “It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.”
“As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God’s mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds. We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps.”
Earlier this week, Pope Francis sent yet another strange message, instructing the clerical hierarchy of the Church to resist the “Great Accuser,” Satan, who he said attempts to uncover sin and divide church leadership.
“In these times, it seems like the ‘Great Accuser’ has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people,” the Pope said in his Tuesday homily, according to an official Vatican news agency report.
Francis continued: “The ‘Great Accuser,’ as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse.’” The Pope, who has been under increasing pressure to provide answers to the accusations that he has helped protect senior abusers in the Catholic Church, noted that “the Great Accuser, has been let loose and he’s got it in for the bishops.”
In February, Pope Francis will summon all the heads of Catholic bishops conferences to convene at the Vatican in order to discuss the sexual abuse crisis in greater detail.
WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND?
Francis was recently accused by Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano of lifting Vatican sanctions against disgraced U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick. There was a “conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia”, Archbishop Vigano wrote in a bombshell, 11-page testament which was released as Francis made a historic trip to Ireland last month.
“Read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves,” Francis said when questioned about the letter just before he left the European nation, staying very tight-lipped. “I will not say one word on this. I think the statement speaks for itself.”
Despite repeatedly asking for the faithful’s forgiveness for the sins of the Catholic Church’s abuses over the decades, many have lambasted Francis for refusing to go a step further in launching an in-depth investigation into instances of historical abuse and ensuring adequate preventative safeguarding apparatus’ are in place.
Last week, Francis urged his followers to be wise on when to speak, and when to bite their tongue. He explained that Jesus’ grace helps the believer discern when to speak and “when we should stay silent,” according to CBS News.
“With people lacking goodwill, with people who only seek scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction, even within the family: silence, prayer,” Francis declared, as reported by America Magazine.
The gospel narrative, Pope Francis said, helps us “to reflect how to act in daily life, when there are misunderstandings” and also “to understand how the father of lies, the accuser, the devil, acts to destroy the unity of a family, of a people.”
“The truth is meek. The truth is silent. The truth is not noisy,” the Pope added.
“Jesus stayed silent.”
Some 35,000+ Catholic women have signed an open letter to Pope Francis, demanding answers over the ongoing abuse cover-up scandal.
The letter, published at the Catholic Women’s Forum August 30, sternly presses Pope Francis to answer the accusations of Archbishop Maria Vigano. Vigano has claimed that the Pontiff himself has been involved in protecting an abusive ex-Cardinal, former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick.
“His testimony accuses you, Holy Father, and highly placed cardinals of turning a blind eye to former Cardinal McCarrick’s egregious behavior, and promoting this predator as a global spokesman and spiritual leader. Is this true?” the letter pointedly asks.
“To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate,” the letter continues. “They sting, reminiscent of the clericalism you so recently condemned. We need leadership, truth, and transparency. We, your flock, deserve your answers now.”
So, has the Vatican responded to the open letter? Not yet, the director of Catholic Women’s Forum, Mary Hasson, told Faithwire.
“The Pope has a pastor’s heart. I don’t think he will ignore the pleas of 30,000+ women, who are merely asking for answers.”
Hasson noted to Faithwire that she is hopeful this landmark letter “will break through the walls set up by those who would prefer ‘business as usual’ to addressing the problem.”
“Truth is necessary for real healing to happen,” she added.
In addition, almost 10,000 Catholic men have penned their own letter, demanding answers from the Vatican:
“Dear Holy Father and Bishops of the United States:
As Catholic laymen, we are faithful husbands, fathers, business leaders, lawyers, tradesmen, medical doctors, professors, teachers, artists, and leaders of Catholic lay apostolates. But most fundamentally, we are men in love with Christ and His Church, and it is for this reason that we beseech you to purge the corruption which has so grotesquely disfigured the face of Christ’s Bride. The present scandals have placed our wives, sisters, brothers, and children in danger,” reads the powerful letter, published at Catholic Men United for Christ.
Then, a simple and powerful plea to the Pontiff:
“The Church needs purification, and by virtue of your offices as our shepherds, no one is more qualified to bring about this purification than yourselves. We beg you to do so without a moment’s delay.”