The Pope Is The Problem

Comment:  We have already produced a lot for our readers to absorb today, but nonetheless, the following report on the meeting of the US Catholic Bishops in Baltimore from The American Conservative yesterday – with some later important updates – is really a must-read for all anxious Catholics under this increasingly bizarre Pontificate.

By ROD DREHER * November 12, 2018.


Stunning news from the US Catholic bishops’ meeting in Baltimore:

The bishops of America’s 196 Catholic dioceses and archdioceses gathered in Baltimore on Monday morning, meeting for the first time since sexual abuse scandals rocked the church in the summer. They planned to vote on measures to tackle the crisis and prevent further crimes.

In the opening minutes of their meeting, the bishops heard a surprising report: Pope Francis had asked them not to vote on any of their proposals.

The pope does not want U.S. bishops to act to address bishops’ accountability on sexual abuse until he leads a worldwide meeting in February of church leaders, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, told the gathered bishops as the meeting opened Monday morning.

“At the insistence of the Holy See, we will not be voting on the two action items,” DiNardo said. He said he was “disappointed” by the pope’s directive.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, called the last-minute order from the Vatican “truly incredible.”

“What we see here is the Vatican again trying to suppress even modest progress by the U.S. bishops,” said Doyle, whose group compiles data on clergy abuse in the church. “We’re seeing where the problem lies, which is with the Vatican. The outcome of this meeting, at best, was going to be tepid and ineffectual, but now it’s actually going to be completely without substance.”

Read the whole thing to see what the papal nuncio told the bishops this morning. Jaw-dropping.

Any illusions that Francis was part of the solution to this crisis should now be dispelled. He is the chief stonewaller. Archbishop Viganò told us so.

As I’ve been writing since visiting Rome earlier this autumn, the atmosphere in the Vatican is one of siege and denial. One has the impression that Francis is like Pius IX, desperately trying to defend the Papal States — except in Francis’s case, he’s trying to defend the Church’s ability to control events — and, let’s be honest, to cover up for priestly buggery and episcopal corruption. It’s as if Uncle Ted were sitting at his right side, Wormtonguing all the livelong day.

What must it feel like to be a faithful Catholic mother and father this morning, knowing that even 16 years after Boston, and mere months after learning that a senior American cardinal was in fact a serial molester, the Holy Father does not take the abuse crisis seriously? For heaven’s sake, the US Catholic Church is facing a federal RICO investigation! And still, the pontiff punts. If you read the nuncio’s quote, you’ll see that the Pope does not intend to give the laity any say in the reform that the Catholic bishops have manifestly been unable to carry out.

From Barbara Tuchman’s The March Of Folly, this passage on how six Renaissance popes provoked the Protestant Reformation:

The folly of the popes was not pursuit of counter-productive policy so much as rejection of any steady or coherent policy either political or religious that would have improved their situation or arrested the rising discontent. Disregard of the movements and sentiments developing around them was a primary folly. They were deaf to disaffection, blind to the alternative ideas it gave rise to, blandly impervious to challenge, unconcerned by the dismay at their misconduct and the rising wrath at their misgovernment, fixed in refusal to change, almost stupidly stubborn in maintaining a corrupt existing system. They could not change it because they were part of it, grew out of it, depended on it.

Plus ça change…

Read David Spotanski’s incredible 2002 letter in light of the Pope’s move today.

UPDATE: A prominent Catholic theologian e-mails:

Can there be any doubt? PF is a liar, a hypocrite, a fraud, radically corrupt, and gravely, gravely wounding the Church of which he is head.

I am beside myself with anger right now. PF is more interested in showing his supposed ‘enemies’ who’s boss than he is in dealing with evil. He is more interested in preserving his image and his friends, than in seeking truth. He is all about himself at this point, completely blinded to the needs of others. He hides his corruption and bankruptcy and pride behind a patina of ‘synodality’ and ‘humility.’

My only hope is that Christ will use him to scourge the Church and bring about its renewal. We must suffer the death-pangs of an ecclesial era that we have allowed to fester for decades. Pope Francis is both a cause and a symptom. He is a disgrace to every victim of abuse and to every person committed to reforming the Church.

Obviously I am not going to reveal the name of this theologian — who, not coincidentally, is a father — but I tell you this: I bet he never, in his wildest dreams, imagined ever writing words like this about a pope. Yet here we are.

UPDATE.2: Here is a link to the text of the papal nuncio’s address. 

Phil Lawler, whose brand-new book about the crisis is a must-read for concerned Catholics, weighs in:


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3 Responses to The Pope Is The Problem

  1. Crow says:

    We have to ride out the consequences of the sexual revolution and V2 – remember that the more this pope behaves like this, the more the traditional doctrine makes sense. We were the product of many centuries where a predominant Christianity imposed moral norms on our society that we all believed were innate to the human condition. The abuse scandals show that the networks that operated under the guise of ‘tolerance ‘ were predatory. Pope Francis is showing, by his suppression of true investigation, that the abusers could only operate with the cooperation of others within the hierarchy. I am aware of many who now look askance at the V2protestantising and recognise the core doctrines of the Church for their timeless wisdom.


  2. I am with Francis. Why should be trust the bishops now?


  3. kathleen says:

    Robert Royal over at ‘The Catholic Thing’ posted a great piece yesterday, laying out clearly the shocked anger and frustration of most honest Catholics on this whole debacle when they learned of the postponement of the American bishops’ vote on the urgent abuse crisis till next year!! The culprits (or their buddies) of covering up these outrageous crimes – that “cry to Heaven for vengeance” – are burying their heads in the sand, ostrich-fashion, once again! And this can only have been permitted through the given authority of Pope Francis.

    RR writes:
    ”Whatever the fear, to wait until the very day the meeting opened to request no voting take place is almost without precedent. For many Americans, sad to say, the pope has probably just confirmed what he was forced to admit in Chile: he’s part of the problem. That no one convinced him this move would be a public relations nightmare – and would cause more trouble than a frank discussion and voting (which he could alway massage later anyway) – is a sign of where we are in the Church now.”


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