I was angry to read allegations that the Pope interfered in a clergy sex abuse case in Australia. They're not (yet) independently verified, but given my experience of such shenanigans (of which more later), they ring true.
A low-ranking parish priest who agreed to give evidence against an archbishop accused of concealing child sexual abuse was mysteriously summoned to the Vatican before he was due to testify and allegedly quizzed by the Pope about what he was planning to say in court.
. . .
The explosive claim about the papal meeting, contained in The Altar Boys, indicates that the pressure brought to bear on priests who betray the brotherhood extends right up to the Vatican, and has prompted calls for a police investigation.
Father Walsh was a Crown witness in the case against Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson when he met with the pontiff on February 9, 2016. Archbishop Wilson was accused of failing to report to police the allegations of two former altar boys who claimed they had been abused by a priest in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese in the 1970s. At the time he was the highest-ranking Catholic ever to be charged with concealment offences.
Father Walsh later told confidants that the Pope asked him why he was involved in a court case against an archbishop, what he was planning to say in court, and who was walking with him on the journey. Father Walsh said he did not trust the interpreter and offered scant detail.
It was the pinnacle of what Father Walsh perceived as a sustained campaign by the priesthood to get him to toe the line on child sexual abuse. He was allegedly frozen out of the Maitland-Newcastle diocese after he defied the bishop to report a fellow priest for child sexual abuse in 2004 and was not welcomed back until early 2017.
But on October 24, 2017 – a little over two weeks before the archbishop's trial was set down – Newcastle-Maitland Bishop Bill Wright told Father Walsh he had no future in the diocese, according to an email Father Walsh sent to a friend. The email didn't say that this decision was because of his giving evidence.
"[Bishop Wright] will look overseas (Third World) where I can live out my days in the service to Christ and his poor, preferably as a contemplative to a leper colony," Father Walsh wrote.
Two weeks later, before he could give evidence, Father Walsh took his own life.
There's more at the link.
As regular readers will know, I left the Catholic priesthood over precisely this sort of misconduct and cover-up. I've given details in previous articles, particularly this one. I therefore can't claim an unbiased opinion on the matter - I've seen too much of this sort of thing from the inside to be neutral.
The key point to me in the above report is that Father Walsh committed suicide. You need to understand that in Catholic teaching, suicide was traditionally considered a mortal sin - something that sunders one from God not only in this life, but potentially eternally, if it were/is not repented and forgiven. That's been modified to some extent (I think correctly) in the light of what we've learned about the human mind. We now understand that suicide is seldom fully and freely willed. There are usually circumstances such as depression (clinical or otherwise), mental illness, and other factors that influence that last and most final of decisions. Nevertheless, Father Walsh would probably have been raised in the belief that suicide is a mortal sin. For him to take that step is inconceivable, unless he were under so much pressure, and/or felt so abandoned and betrayed by the Church he served, that he felt he had no other way forward.
I don't know the full circumstances of the situation described in the report above; but they ring true, in the light of so many other cases around the world, and of course in our own United States. For example, in Chile a few years ago, Pope Francis came out angrily (and publicly) in defense of one of that country's bishops, only to have to eat his words within a few months when a subsequent investigation proved that the allegations against that bishop were entirely correct. Too often we've seen a knee-jerk reaction like that from Catholic hierarchies, national and international, defending their church and their own positions and authority against the indefensible. It seems nothing has changed - and perhaps it never will. Perhaps the ecclesiastical iron has entered their souls . . . and rusted there.
The Catholic Church's dogmatic refusal to face up to the reality of this scandal has tarnished it almost beyond human redemption. I don't know a way forward unless and until all those who were and still are complicit in the problem have been removed from office: but they're selecting their own successors, and making sure to pick "organization men" who'll continue their policies. Their actions demonstrate that they continue to believe more in the institution of the Church than in Jesus Christ.
Is there a solution to this mess? Perhaps it'll take the Second Coming of Christ to properly resolve it. Meanwhile, those of us who believed, who devoted our lives to Christ through the Church, are still left bereaved. For us, there is no peace, and probably never will be in this life.
May Father Glen Walsh find peace at last in Christ's mercy, and may his sins be forgiven him. God rest his soul.