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While Pope Benedict is engaged in the quiet pursuit of literary composition at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, Rome is roiled in yet another priestly sex scandal.
The Holy Father has been occupied with enlarging his study of the life of Jesus and preparing addresses to be delivered during his trip to England to beatify John Henry Newman. The popular Italian magazine Panorama has been busy following priests through the gay bars of Rome and chronicling their double lives: priest by day, homosexual reveler by night.
Panorama is part of the media empire of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose own private life does not accord with the Church’s moral teachings. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the vicar of Rome, has accused Panorama of trying to embarrass and discredit the Church. The magazine’s editor, Giorgio Mule, defends the expose as solid investigative journalism undertaken in a responsible manner.
Whatever the motives of Panorama, Cardinal Vallini has a serious problem. He has not reportedly disputed the facts presented in the article and has instead called on every homosexual priest leading a double life to quit the priesthood.
“Coherence demands they should come out into the open,” he said, according to LifeSiteNews.com. “They should never have become priests.”
But does anyone, including his Eminence, imagine that coherence and conscience are compelling motives for homosexual priests to quit their dissemblance and forfeit their positions?
Obviously such men are either cynical opportunists or self-deceiving sophists. Perhaps a bit of both. It is disturbing that they should have become priests. It is even more disturbing that active means for identifying them and removing them from the priesthood have not been initiated by Vallini, nor by other prelates, to my knowledge.
If genuine reform of the clergy is to take place, it would be edifying, even inspiring of emulation, were it to begin in Rome. Yet, so far as is evident, the Panorama expose has evoked from Rome’s vicar only ad hominem attacks on the publisher and rhetorical bluster.
Why so ineffectual a response? Carlo, one of the priests whose double life was detailed in the magazine, told the reporter that about 98 percent of the priests he knows are homosexual. Of course, such an estimate is no more than anecdotal and comes from a prejudiced and suspect source. Still, even discounting Carlo’s estimate as exaggerated and based on the sort of priests he, as an active homosexual, is likely to know, the statement is unsettling when taken in conjunction with numerous other reports of a homosexual subculture that begins in seminaries and reaches into chancery offices.
Would a house-cleaning of homosexual priests decimate the already dwindling clergy? Who among the members of the hierarchy would have the courage to initiate it? How many bishops and heads of religious orders would cooperate?
Honest answers to the above questions demonstrate why the Pope described the situation in the Church as “horrifying.” The Holy Father made his famous remark on May 11 in response to a reporter’s question about the continuing relevance of the prophecy of the Third Secret of Fatima.
Pope Benedict said that in the Third Secret, the sufferings of the Pope and the Church are “announced.” He said that these sufferings, in particular the clerical sexual abuse scandal, are predicted in the Third Secret.
Who “announced” these sufferings? Our Lady of Fatima. How has the Holy Father come to know of these “announced” words? Certainly not in the Vatican’s published vision of the Third Secret. They are contained in what is now being acknowledged by the Italian media as “the attachment” to the Third Secret. This attachment is nothing other than the undisclosed words of Our Lady, written down by Sister Lucy and sent to the Pope as an explanation of the vision and the rest of the Third Secret.
The Holy Father is engaged in what Antonio Socci, author of The Fourth Secret of Fatima, has described as a great “truth-telling” about the Third Secret. This includes acknowledging that the clerical sex-abuse crisis is part of the passion the Church is suffering for the sins of Her members. It has so far not included a frank disclosure of “the attachment.”
This passion will only end when Our Lady’s commands are obeyed. Let us pray very much for the Holy Father. He is surrounded by enemies, within and without the Church. He needs Heaven’s help and our loyalty as perhaps no other Pope in the history of the Church.