Scandal and Silence

On August 25, the former nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, released a lengthy and explosive statement implicating high-ranking prelates, all the way up to Pope Francis himself, of conspiracy to cover up abuses perpetrated by a former cardinal against priests and seminarians spanning decades. Not only that, Archbishop Vigano’s expose also reveals the inner workings of Vatican politics and how a powerful and well-entrenched cabal of insiders controls appointments and communications with the Pope.

I first got wind of this in a portion of the homily at Mass to which I arrived late last Saturday. The priest sounded concerned but was vague in the details. Again there was another mention of it on Sunday homily at another church, lacking in details still. Common in both was the need for prayer. After that, no more was said, but perhaps because, as with matters of this weight, the local hierarchy takes time to formulate a statement. Nevertheless, Archbishop Vigano’s statement is not hard to find online and, as Pope Francis himself said: “Read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves.”

As a layman, what am I to make of this? I am surprised, first and foremost, at how little I am shocked. Perhaps it speaks to the disconnect that I see in the upper hierarchy with the state of the world. For the better part of two years, I have observed the continued silence and accommodation of the church, both local and abroad, with abusive political regimes. This is a church that no longer speaks out against injustice and instead submits to “the will of the people.”

And yet…I still believe in the Church, in what it has to say of faith and salvation — and yes, even of morals — even if I no longer hold trust in its faithless shepherds. I believe in the continued action of the Holy Spirit to keep the Church from teaching error, and that even this period of trial is a part of the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Coincidentally — or perhaps, rather, appropriately — yesterday’s Gospel reading was about the parable of the ten virgins awaiting the bridegroom. “Five were foolish and five were wise….” This is a parable that has been turning in my mind over and over in these uncertain times these past two years. When I first heard the story, I thought it was rather selfish of the wise virgins not to share their oil with the foolish ones (though now I realize the simple practical mathematical reason behind this.)

It’s not about the oil, it’s about wisdom and fidelity. Neither are things that one can simply impart and share like a commodity. These are things that we have to nurture within ourselves, with deep reflection and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, despite the predominant trends of the world — really, oftentimes against it.