Apostolic succession is the Catholic belief that, with consecration down the generations, priests today are in some way connected to the apostles. In a spiritual passing of the baton, priests become imbued with a historical holiness. Today, however, a poisonous practice is tracing its way back to the top of the Catholic Church in reverse. Modern cases of protecting and sheltering pederasts within the Church, initially believed to be on the peripheries of the institution, is continually being found closer to the top of the Church. Today it has reached the top in the figure of Pope Francis.
Back in 2002 Cardinal Bernard Law was found on multiple occasions to have relocated confirmed pederast priests to other parishes to avoid scandal. Decades before the scandal broke, Bernard Law received many letters regarding the immoral actions of priests, yet never moved to punish or report them. Due to a lack of laws regarding the mandatory reporting of pederasty, he managed to resign his position in Boston, and then be appointed to a sinecure in the Vatican with the prestige of voting in conclave to usher in the previous pope. During December of last year, the confirmed protector of pederasts died without facing criminal justice. Now his shady tactics live on in the current Pope.
Pope Francis recently received a letter regarding the sexual molestation of children from a Chilean priest and lied about the fact. Speaking in Chile the Pope said “there is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?”. The truth is the letter in question was handed to a senior adviser of the Pope, Cardinal O’Malley—incidentally Bernard Law’s successor—making the Pope’s claims at best one of culpable ignorance. A photo was taken of the exchange in order to assure Carlos Cruz, the victim and drafter of the letter, that the letter would be received and noted.
The allegations in question refer to the case of a Chilean priest, Fernando Karadima, who was found by the Catholic Church to be guilty of ‘sexually abusing minors’. In both the sentence and the punishment the Catholic Church chose to drop the strong language of eternal morality for a much softer language of impunity. Instead of using any of their own weighty words—sacrilege, desecration, unpardonable sin—they were content to say abuse. More importantly there was no eternal damnation or excommunication as punishment, to say nothing of criminal punishment, but instead Karadima was sentenced to a “life of prayer and penitence”. The allegations in the letter to Pope Francis state that Juan Barros, the priest whom the Pope has defended in mobster-like tones was aware of Karadima’s crimes.
For the first time following the revelations of 2002, the new head of the Catholic Church has continued the long-term tradition of covering for pederasts within the Church. In the case of Bernard Law, the furthest the previous Pope went was allowing him to shelter under the Vatican City’s sovereignty. In this case, the present Pope has already lied about his own knowledge of pederasty within the Church. The protection of pederasty is not an aberration, but an institutional feature of the Catholic Church.