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The Friends of Francis Are Safe from Justice… Until They Aren’t

Fatima Perspectives #1208

After an international scandal and having had his face rubbed in the evidence whose existence he had previously refused to admit, Pope Francis has finally accepted the resignation of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, a close associate of the infamous homosexual predator Father Fernando Karadima who was complicit in covering up Karadima’s crimes.  This after twice refusing to accept Barros’ resignation!

But another culprit in the Karadima cover-up retains his seat on the Pope’s “Council of Cardinals,” that being Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz.  As Philip Lawler notes, “This is the same Cardinal Errazuriz who has acknowledged that he delayed for five years before formally investigating abuse charges against… Karadima, the same Cardinal Errazuriz who has been described as a ‘criminal’ by Karadima’s victims. The same Cardinal Errazuriz who urged the Vatican not to hear testimony from Karadima’s most prominent accuser,” whose very testimony is what finally forced Francis to depose Barros.

Lawler believed that given his role in the cover-up, “the Chilean cardinal would be quietly dropped from the Council of Cardinals,” especially since every member of the Chilean episcopate except Errazuriz tendered his resignation during a May summit in Rome.  (Errazuriz had retired as a diocesan bishop in 2010.)

Lawler expresses his dismay that “Pope Francis has chosen to retain among his top advisors a cardinal who is far beyond retirement age and has become a lightning-rod for criticism. For those of us waiting to see how the Pontiff responds to the Chilean bishops’ resignations, this is not a promising sign….. One step forward, one step back.”

None of this should be surprising given the course of this pontificate.  As Henry Sire observes in his explosive best-seller The Dictator Pope, Francis governs the Church like “a Peronist party boss.”  He is “a clever politician – the cleverest to occupy the papal throne for centuries” who is “able to run rings round unsuspecting churchmen like Cardinals Burke, Sarah and Müller – but as a world statesman he is out of his league. So he is as a ruler of the Catholic Church…”

That much should be obvious by now, as the very one who should act as the principle of unity in the Church is fomenting never-before-seen divisions among the flock on matters of fundamental morality. Meanwhile, the friends of Francis have nothing to fear from justice so long as the “party boss” stands behind them. But, in the manner of any politician, Francis will cut loose anyone whose baggage threatens to sink him.  Hence the final fate of Barros.  As for Errazuriz, it seems he need only wait out the current news cycle in order to retain his high perch in the party apparatus.  The same has already happened with the scandal-plagued Cardinal Rodriguez-Maradiaga, who should have been ousted long ago.

My friend and colleague John Rao is one of the world’s foremost authorities on European and Church history.  His knowledge of the history of the papacy in particular has no equal that I have ever encountered. “Never, absolutely never, have we had a Pope like this,” he told me during a recent conversation.  But an unprecedented papacy suggests an unprecedented resolution of the problems it poses — a solution that will involve the dramatic intervention of the Virgin Mother of God.

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