January 08, 2005

The Word From Rome

ROME
National

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

In the last column before my hiatus, I noted that Pope John Paul II had recently praised Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado and the order he founded, the Legionaries of Christ. With respect to the accusations of sexual abuse lodged against Maciel, I wrote: "I think the only honest answer is that the pope and his senior aides obviously do not believe the charges."

That comment brought a response from Jason Berry, who along with fellow journalist Gerald Renner co-authored the book Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II, which is in part about the Maciel case.

Berry writes:

I'm sorry, but there are more honest answers than that. It is just as likely that John Paul II and Cardinal Angelo Sodano don't care if the charges are true. They view the Legion as an asset to protect. The pope has a long record of refusing to punish powerful churchmen who abuse the young, which you fail to mention. John Paul's support of Maciel is consistent with his response to other men of flawed morals or compromised judgment.
Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after a catalytic role in an epic scandal. John Paul rewarded him with a basilica in Rome. In 1995, he let Vienna's Cardinal Gror ease into a position at a shrine when he resigned in disgrace as a pederast. As the scandal escalated John Paul would not discuss it in public. When American bishops Symons, Ziemann, Sanchez, O'Connell, and Ryan resigned under similar clouds John Paul did not remove any from the priesthood. Each is a bishop, albeit sans diocese, today.

Posted by kshaw at January 8, 2005 10:35 AM