I saw a hint of this when I noticed this week that my 90% leftist Facebook friends scrupulously avoided commenting on my cross-posted article about the current Pope’s likely complicity in the ongoing Roman Catholic Church child sexual abuse cover-up while metaphorically foaming at the mouth because the White House flag wasn’t at half mast. Then the New York Times started spinning. An article by Jason Horowitz titled “Vatican Power Struggle Bursts Into Open as Conservatives Pounce” argued that conservatives were “weaponizing” the scandal in order to minimize the influence of Pope Francis, who has aroused the Right’s ire by “going soft” on homosexuality and by becoming a shill for climate change. Horowitz wrote,
“Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend, when a caustic letter published by the Vatican’s former top diplomat in the United States blamed a “homosexual current” in the Vatican hierarchy for sexual abuse. It called for Francis’ resignation, accusing him of covering up for a disgraced cardinal, Theodore E. McCarrick.”
What? Heaven forfend that someone suggest that a hypocritical homosexual factor at high levels of the Church might be partially responsible for a policy of allowing male priests to continue to rape little boys! That’s minor, however, compared to the triple “What?” earned by the writer and the Times for implying that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s a letter accusing Pope Francis of covering up Cardinal McCarrick’s abuses while also taking his counsel on appointing bishops was merely a political ploy. This is one more example of the tactic of using alleged mixed motives to delegitimize an ethical act. So what if Viganò is a Vatican dissident? The evidence is overwhelming that the Catholic Church has facilitated child abuse for at least decades (See: “Spotlight”), that this continued on Pope Francis’s watch (See: the recent grand jury report), that the Pope is accountable, that his statement was a weaselly mess of accountability-skirting platitudes, and that Viganò’s accusations appear to have validity.
Then today the Times has another Horowitz piece on the front page, this one working hard to impugn Viganò: “The Man Who Took On the Pope: The Story Behind the Viganò Letter.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has refused to comment. It is not a partisan or ideological point to note that the same man has repeatedly issued apocalyptic condemnations of those who do not accept the most extreme claims of climate change advocates—and the Pope is no more informed on climate change than you or I—while refusing to accept his own accountability for the ongoing child sexual abuse of the organization which he leads, a topic he knows a great deal about. Indeed, if he isn’t an expert, he should be.
The Left’s rush to defend the Pope, if that’s what we are seeing, will qualify for immortality in the Outrageous Hypocrisy and Cognitive Dissonance categories. Progressives actively dislike religion, disrespect the First Amendment protection of it, and are quick to condemn members of religious groups for sincerely held beliefs that oppose current cultural consensus. However, if a leader of a religion embraces climate change, then he is instantly an ally (up that Cognitive Dissonance Scale!), and criticism of his conduct, even if it is such heinous conduct as assisting in the continued molestation of children, must be undermined and opposed. Is that a fair assessment of what I am reading in the Times? I think it is.
To be clear: the implication that criticism of the Pope and the Church is “ideologically motivated opposition” and that the concern over Francis’s complicity is a ploy to “[weaponize] the church’s sex abuse crisis to threaten not only Francis’ agenda but his entire papacy” is one more symptom of a very sick—and ethics-free–progressive establishment.
*UPDATE: When I re-read the post when it was up, I had second thoughts about the headline. Should it read “alleged” cover-up? Does the headline undermine the credibility of the post? Then I reflected on the end of “Spotlight,” where the film lists, in screen after screen, the cities worldwide where priest sexual abuse scandals had been revealed. That list didn’t include Pittsburgh, by the way. It is inconceivable that any long-time, high-ranking official in the Roman Catholic Church during the last half century at least was not aware of this rot in the institution. Every one of them was complicit, either actively, or passively, including the Pope. To think otherwise is to engage in willful self-deception.