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A Curious Double Standard

by Christopher A. Ferrara
April 28, 2015

There is no longer any doubt: Pope Francis’ purported standard of “zero tolerance” for child abuse by Catholic clerics and the bishops who protect them is being used to justify a purge of tradition-friendly bishops, while progressive bishops guilty of far worse offenses in this regard are not only tolerated but rewarded. Under the resulting double standard there is “zero tolerance” for the first group but zero punishment for the second.

A brief comparison of the cases of Bishop Finn of Kansas City and Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno highlights the nature of the purge:

Bishop Finn of Kansas City. This friend of the traditional Latin Mass, long hated by progressives within the Church and the liberal media, was forced to resign because, in a single case, he delayed reporting for six months the discovery of pornographic images found in the computer of a priest who had never actually molested or even touched a child (and is now serving a 50-year prison sentence for possession of child pornography). Bishop Finn has never been accused of any personal sexual misconduct and his diocese was experiencing a surge in vocations — as is the case in every place where a local ordinary makes an effort to restore liturgical tradition and traditional seminary formation.
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Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Chile. Installed by Francis as bishop of that diocese only weeks before Bishop Finn’s removal, Barros had been credibly accused by numerous victims of witnessing and then covering up unspeakable acts of sexual abuse of minors by his infamous friend, Father Fernando Karidama, who was found guilty of sexual abuse by the Vatican in 2011 and consigned to a monastery (the statute of limitations having run out on Karadima’s criminal acts under civil law). Francis refused to rescind the appointment even though the Archbishop of Concepción, Fernando Chomalí, met with him in Rome in early March to warn “about the consequences the appointment has had in Osorno and the country” and Francis was made aware of the evidence against Barros. Francis was not even moved by the presence of thousands of protesters at the installation ceremony, some of whom, in their desperation over this travesty, tried physically to prevent it.

Francis has also removed from office Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres of the Diocese of Plano, Paraguay. Bishop Livieres was literally the only tradition-leaning prelate in a progressive-dominated hierarchy, was also friendly to the Latin Mass, and was thus (predictably enough) the only bishop in Paraguay whose seminary was filled with vocations. While the ostensible reason for the removal was that Bishop Livieres had accepted into his diocese and appointed to a key position one Father Carlos Urrutigoity, who had been accused of sexual abuse of minors elsewhere before his arrival in Plano, the real reason was “relations within the episcopacy and in the local church, which were very difficult,” according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. In fact, as Bishop Livieres noted in his own defense, Vatican cardinals had recommended Urrutigoity to him in the first place. In short, Bishop Livieres’ progressivist enemies had demanded his removal, and Francis complied.

Finally, Francis has stripped of all authority Bishop Mario Oliveri, yet another tradition- and Latin Mass-friendly bishop in the Diocese of Albenga-Imperia, leaving him a bishop in name only while vesting all episcopal power and authority in a coadjutor. The pretext for this unprecedented move (coadjutors normally assist a bishop rather than completely superseding his authority) was homosexual activity by a number of priests in that diocese no different in kind from that which has afflicted the dioceses of countless progressive bishops who have never been removed from office or disciplined in any way, even though in a number of cases their dioceses were driven into bankruptcy by sexual abuse lawsuits.

As if to make a mockery of his own “zero tolerance” policy, Francis rewarded infamous retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels with a personal papal appointment to the ludicrously misnamed Synod on the Family, aka the Phony Synod. In 2010 Danneels was caught on tape refusing to take action concerning the long history of sexual abuse committed by his friend and confidant, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, Bishop of Bruges, against a number of minors, including Vangheluwe’s own nephew, whom Danneels  is heard rebuking during the taped meeting. In fact, as Primate of Belgium from 1979 to 2010, Danneels covered up not only Vangheluwe’s crimes, but at least 450 allegations of sexual abuse of minors, failing to report any of them to the civil authorities.

So, the score under the “zero tolerance” policy is as follows: Tradition-friendly bishops punished: 4. Progressive bishops punished: 0.  Progressive bishops rewarded: 2. There is no room for a reasonable inference of coincidence. The zero tolerance policy is being selectively applied only against bishops who have made significant attempts to restore Tradition in their dioceses.  The point is not that the policy should not be applied, but rather that it should be applied even-handedly to all who violate it, and certainly against the many far worse violators, progressive bishops all, who have escaped any punishment under Francis (and his predecessors, for that matter) and have even been rewarded.

In keeping with this travesty, Francis has placed his very household and the so-called Vatican Bank under the oversight of a notorious practicing homosexual, Msgr. Battista Ricca, whose disgraceful activities, as the renowned Vaticanist Sandro Magister reported, were known to “dozens of persons: bishops, priests, sisters, laypeople. Without counting the civil authorities, from security forces to fire protection.” Magister calls Ricca the “prelate of the gay lobby” that Francis was supposed to be extirpating from the Vatican, but instead has apparently entrenched more firmly than before.

What are we to make of all this? There is only one reasonable interpretation: it is yet another sign of diabolical disorientation in the Church, proceeding this time under the guise of a legitimate policy pursued for an illegitimate end — the continuing subversion of the Catholic Church from within. This internal subversion, as Pope Benedict warned in light of the Third Secret of Fatima, is the greatest threat to the Church in our time.