Dear Pope Francis,
So, I know I wrote about him just the other day, but Cardinal Dolan was back in the news again this week. This time it’s about allegations that he shielded church assets when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee in order to avoid paying them out as damages to sexual abuse victims. And, apparently, he had Vatican approval.
At the time, my first response was what the Germans would call schaadenfreude. After all, here was a man who, just days before, claimed to be standing up for the moral integrity of a nation. And then this came out.
That “gotcha” feeling faded, though, and it became one of sadness. After decades of revelations regarding how the Church treated abuse victims, shielded priests, and essentially tried to push the whole tragedy under the rug, it seems the hierarchy still hasn’t learned. What’s more, they’ve made issues of sexuality the target of moral outrage and, quite frankly, hate. They claim the high moral ground when many have acted immorally and against the interests of children, whom it should be their duty to protect at all costs. How many times do you have to hear the word hypocrisy before you listen?
This is what made me sad. The fact that evidence abounds that the way the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops have handled the issue of sexual abuse has only caused more hurt, more pain, and yet they continue on. I grieved yet again for all the victims.
And yet, there might be a sliver of hope. These revelations about Cardinal Dolan came from the release of many documents by the current Archbishop of Milwaukee. There was about to be a hearing on whether the diocese should be forced to release the documents, but Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki released them voluntarily. I guess a cynic could say he’d read the writing on the wall and decided it would be good PR to release the documents before a court made him.
Perhaps. But, the Church hierarchy of just a few years ago would have fought that court battle, I think. Another archbishop might have paid no heed to what was just and proper, wanting only to somehow shield the Church from further damage. In other words, handle the whole thing like the Church had been handling things since abuse allegations began to surface: cover, hide, deny, deny, deny.
So, the fact that this release happened at all, without a court order, is something of a minor miracle. And, I might even go as far to say it’s a hopeful sign. A small sign, to be sure, but a sign that there might be a new Vatican employee handbook that has taken effect.
After all, Pope Francis, releasing Church documents would probably require a certain someone’s consent, no? Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. If so, good for you. Keep it up.