The church in the USA stands after the fire letter of the former Nuntius in Washington, archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, before a tear test. Catholics demand accountability, church leaders disagree.
It didn't take much to bring the underlying tensions in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the surface anyway. The incendiary letter from former nuncio in Washington, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, is now proving to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. In the letter, the diplomat claims he told Pope Francis back in the summer of 2013 that former Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick has "tainted generations of seminarians and priests" and has been criticized by Pope Benedict XVI. Have been sentenced to a secluded life of penance
Since then, there has been turmoil in the church. The challenge is on three levels: One is the consequences of the abuse scandal, which has caught up with the church again with the serious allegations against McCarrick as well as the grand jury report in Pennsylvania. Linking the two the current Cardinal of Washington, Donald Wuerl, who succeeded McCarrick and was previously a bishop in the rust belt state.
The cardinal as scapegoat?
The 77-year-old Wuerl faces massive criticism. A group of teachers from parochial schools boycotted Tuesday's service at the "Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception" in Washington as a protest against "the cover-ups by the hierarchy".
Several pastors demand the resignation of the cardinal, who firmly rejects the accusations of inaction and looking the other way. Wuerl gets support from National Catholic Reporter columnist Sean Winters, who suspects the cardinal is being used as a "scapegoat".
An intrigue against the pope?
While the abuse scandal is about accountability and responsibility, the pope's critics are using the crisis to weaken Francis. They see the scandal as an opportunity to lend weight to their fundamental skepticism of the pope's opening course. The attitude of the head of the church on dealing with remarried divorcees or homosexuals is a thorn in their side. Archbishop Vigano can lean on Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has fallen out of favor with Francis, as well as a phalanx of conservative U.S. bishops.
The ex-nuntius' use of the National Catholic Register to publish his incendiary letter, part of the wealthy ETWN empire of right-wing Catholic media, is understood by analysts to be anything but coincidental. The group has always been considered a platform of Francis critics in the U.S. At the head of the Pope's defenders are the two cardinals he appointed Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark. "Together with Pope Francis, we are confident that a review of the former nuncio's claims will help get to the bottom of the truth," Tobin says.
It is about hierarchy and faith
John Carr, who heads an initiative on Catholic social teaching at Georgetown University in Washington, finds it troubling how "the suffering of vulnerable people is used to advance ideological agendas".
After all, it is about the relationship between the hierarchy and the faithful, which has suffered serious damage. The trust and credibility of the bishops, but also of the clergy, has suffered massively. The protest ranges from signature lists to church service boycotts to refusal of donations.
Request for audience with the Pope
"This is a different reaction from the laity than we've seen in the past," says Adrienne Alexander of Catholics for Action. This time the protest ranged from traditional churchgoers to progressive Christians. The president of the Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, has therefore requested an audience with the Holy Father. Publicly, he expressed skepticism about the nuncio's unproven claims that the pope had learned of McCarrick's sexual misconduct and secret sanctions by Pope Benedict XVI. knew and ignored this.
Care must be taken, DiNardo said, "so that innocent men are not damaged by false accusations and the guilty can continue to sin, as in the past".