Remember when liberals in the media disdained everything about the Catholic Church? Simpler times. Then Pope Francis came along and muddied things. He talks about climate change, castigates capitalism and plays verbal footsie with lefty Catholic hobby-horse issues like divorce and gay acceptance. This Francis guy, they think, might be one of us.
Since former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano alleged that he warned newly installed Pope Francis in 2013 about the crimes of former Washington D.C. Archbishop McCarrick, those media liberals have settled into a narrative: a dark cabal of Church conservatives are trying to oust the liberal pontiff. And he must be protected.
So we get sentences like this from longtime Associated Press religion writer Nicole Winfield:
[A newly ordained bishops] seminar took place during a crisis for the pope: a lone archbishop has alleged Francis covered up for a now-former U.S. cardinal who was accused of sexually molesting children and adult seminarians.
A “lone archbishop?” Not a member of one of those roving packs of archbishops known to set upon innocent pontiffs with sudden, violent allegations? “Lone” is a word applied to gunmen -- a kook, an outlier. Why not just go ahead and call Vigano a “rogue archbishop?”
This phrasing is even more suspect when, a full nine paragraphs later, Winfield bothers to mention that:
On Friday, Catholic News Service, the news agency of the U.S. bishops’ conference, published a 2006 letter from a top Vatican official confirming that the Holy See knew as early as 2000 about McCarrick’s penchant for inviting seminarians into his bed.
Okay, the Vatican had been informed. That doesn’t mean Vigano is telling the truth about cluing Francis in back in 2013. No, but it does mean Winfield actually knows that Vigano shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand as a nut or a charlatan. In fact, she admits as much:
The letter, from now-Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, confirmed a key part of Vigano’s testimony: That a New York City priest, the Rev. Boniface Ramsay, had written the Vatican’s U.S. ambassador in November 2000 complaining about McCarrick’s behavior.
We don’t know the veracity of Vigano’s charge. We do know Pope Francis refuses to address it directly (according to the article, he told the new bishops, “Just say no to abuse — of power, conscience or any type.”) And we know that the media seems A-okay with that. After all, he could be one of theirs.