Pope Francis Speaks Against the 'Great Accuser'
This is not a public-relations crisis. It is one of gross sin infecting the highest levels of church leadership.
Two weeks after the first story of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church broke, Pope Francis was accused of being complicit in the cover-up, and an archbishop called for his resignation. Francis responded only that he would “not say a single word” on the matter. Two more weeks passed and the Vatican announced preparations for a statement, including nine cardinal advisers declaring their “full solidarity” with the pope.
We don’t blame Francis for taking time to say the right thing, but on Tuesday, he finally broke his silence with a bizarre homily referencing the scandal:
In these times, it seems like the “Great Accuser” [Satan] 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 “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.” A bishop’s strength against the “Great Accuser” is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.“
Hoo boy, where to start.
In Job, the titular figure was innocent, and Satan wanted to drum up trouble to hurt him and damage God’s credibility. While most Catholic bishops are indeed innocent, the story here isn’t about them; it’s about the vile homosexual scum who are engaged in evidently widespread pederasty and about the cowardly church hierarchy that covered it up and enabled abusers.
If Francis meant to offer prayerful support for church leadership as a whole during a stressful time, that’s at least understandable if a little tone deaf at the moment. But victims can perhaps be forgiven for interpreting his remarks as casting aspersions on them. Why not offer prayers for the victims?
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey, a Catholic, writes that Francis "still misses the point.” He explains, “The issue here isn’t so much that the devil is uncovering the sins, but that the Catholic hierarchy has continued to cover them up. That gives ‘the Great Accuser’ a perfect vantage point to attack all bishops with the sins of a few and their participation in preventing them from being aired earlier. And that’s no one’s fault except the Catholic hierarchy’s, which includes Francis at the top.”
Is Francis finally taking action? The Vatican announced today that, according to the Associated Press, he “is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children.” Did you catch that? February.
Given the rampant corruption in this institution, and the fact that popes are very detached and propped up by those in power under them, is this summit about appearances or solutions? This is not a public-relations crisis for the church. It is one of gross sin infecting the highest levels of the church’s leadership. The millions of faithful Catholics in the pews should be outraged not only by the scandal itself but by the tepid response of Pope Francis.