JUL 06, 2016 by HILARY WHITE
Well well, hasn’t it been an interesting week! Sorry for my absence here. I’ve actually started a new and very positive project and because it’s so fun and is working so well, I’m afraid I’ve kind of neglected y’all here.
But we’re back today with another fun round of our favourite game…
Connect the Pope Francis Dots to Figure Out What’s Actually Happening!
Today’s contestant is the Catholic archbishop of Paraiba, Brazil, Aldo di Cillo Pagotto, who got the heave-ho today. He’s 66 and his firing was listed under the infamous Canon 401 P.2
§2. A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.
Now, normally there is no better kept secret, at least by the Vatican Press Office, than the exact reasons in the C401 p2 cases where there is no serious health issue. This is always something they are tight as limpets about. So tight, in fact, that when a bishop gets the 401-2 boot, it is part of the Big Fun of being a Vatican reporter to get together with your colleagues and see if you can ferret out the right answer.
But today there’s no wondering because this time – for some reason – the answer is all over the news… His “resignation” came following a Vatican investigation into “a sex abuse scandal”. In the English language press, no less… which means there have been phone calls and emails to the right people to make sure the news got out far and wide in the language that counts the most on the internet (not Portuguese). So much so, in fact, that the Grande Old Dame, Auntie Beeb, has even covered it.
Catholic Culture helpfully helps by telling us that things were, apparently, pretty wacky down there in Paraiba. To be sure, this sounds like some pretty interesting stuff:
Pagotto “was accused of a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old male, was also under investigation by a local prosecutor for alleged “connivance” in the sexual exploitation of minors. In 2015, following an apostolic visitation, he was forbidden to ordain new priests and deacons, according to Brazilian media reports.
Archbishop Pagotto, who denied the allegations, has led the archdiocese since 2004. He also faced criticism for ties to spiritualism and for joining a street protest against President Dilma Rousseff.”
…In his resignation letter, the prelate said his governance of the diocese led to a campaign of slander by anonymous priests…Bishop Genival Saraiva de França, will govern the archdiocese as apostolic administrator until a new archbishop is named.”
His resignation letter speaks of “internal and external retaliation,” for his forthright political positions against the left, and “the establishment [in the archdiocese] of a climate of destabilization woven by pressure groups, including those termed ‘anonymous priests,’ shielded the confidentiality of the source of information, getting wide coverage in a newspaper. Stories about the life of the Church of Paraiba, described in unilaterally distorted, provocative, [terms] were periodically aired, followed by arbitrary comments by various social networks.”
“As an example of this, Archbishop Aldo cites a blog published what he calls ‘slanderous letter, involving the Archbishop and several priests, arbitrarily exposed to public mockery.’”
“Social networks undertook to spread pilgrims and bad comments”, he adds. According to Don Aldo, “the presumed author of the letter answers in criminal court.”
So, there are questions. Lots. There was obviously some shenanigans going on on someone’s part, at least, and Lord knows the Church in Brazil is well known for sexual as well as political and theological corruption.
But my curiosity wasn’t piqued about that. It was about all the little bits and pieces of other information that have come together over the last few months.
Item 1: Pagotto was signatory (along with most of the Brazilian episcopate) to the “Filial Appeal” to Pope Francis to stop being a damnable heretic and start doing his job “never disassociate pastoral practice from the teaching bequeathed by Jesus Christ and his vicars”
Out of a total of 879,451 signatures, Pagotto was number six. Which means he was one of the ringleaders.
Item 2: Pagotto was one of three bishops to promote a document, a 60-page booklet, addressed to the 2015 Synod, titled, “Preferential Option for the Family: 100 Questions and Answers relating to the Synod,” along with Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Santa Rosa, California and Bishop Athanasius Schneider. The booklet raised issues like, “The Synod of Bishops and its Authority”, “The Sexual Revolution”, “The 2014 Synod’s Approach on Church-World Relationships”, “Moral Teaching and Pastoral Practice”, “Communion for the Separated, Divorced and Divorced-Remarried” and “Homosexuality and same-sex unions”.
Item 3: His seminarians have issued a public statement supporting him and his denial of wrongdoing, and making abundantly clear the real motives of the accusers:
“…do those who struggle or say they are fighting for diversity want to silence that voice that diverges from their ideology?
…Accused the Archbishop of being disrespectful towards the poor, the social movements…They want, in their letter, to pose as defenders of the poor…However, what is preached by the pseudo-defenders of the poor is the class division. Do the rich not also have the right to be evangelized? Are not they also called to follow Jesus Christ?
In his lapidary phrase, Don Christiano Krapf, Bishop of Jequié (BA), in his article ‘The Church and its mission in election times’: ‘Who does not fight against the rich is accused of being against the poor.’ So Don Aldo is not criticized for being against the poor, since he is not, but in obedience to Christ, aim for ‘everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth’ (cf. 1 Tim 2: 4), whether they are poor or rich.”
Item 4: in 2014, Pagotto issued a decree confirming the prohibition against priests being involved in politics, confirming the canon suspending those who attempt it:
“c) Eventually elected, the cleric (priest or religious) will remain suspended from the use of Order and any ecclesiastical functions throughout the term period for which it was elected.
It appears that there are people linked to both the pastoral and the popular movements, whose tendency is to act as canvassers of some political parties. These can take on projects that sometimes are contrary to the values and principles defended by the natural law and Christian ethics and moral, for example on abortion, land invasion and gay marriage. It is the guidance for these people do not try to make the Church canvasser, confusing the faithful.”
The reference to “land invasion” is a big issue in South American politics. (South Africa too.) Marxist leaders have created a movement to illegally appropriate farm land. The way it works is a Marxist-hired band of thugs show up at your house and announce that you no longer own this land and have a few hours to get your things and get out. This is one of the “social movements” that is often supported by the leftist clergy.
Bergoglio, when he was in Argentina, was strongly favourable to this kind of movement and to its leadership, often speaking in the same propagandistic terms used by the Marxist movements. He still does this. When he uses expressions like “social exclusion,” that’s South American commie-talk.
Item 5: Archbishop Pagotto is a longstanding voice against the the homosexualist ideologues who are promoting their ideology, saying in 2008, “Missionary indoctrinators of the homosexual cause project their own fears and ambiguities onto the banner of homophobia.”
With this “habitual phobia mechanism as a homosexual banner, they cast the anguish of their unresolved inner drives upon heterosexuals and society as a whole.”
Item 6: In 2015 a Vatican envoy was dispatched to the diocese and Pagotto was prohibited from ordaining priests and deacons or welcoming in any priests or seminarians who had been expelled from other dioceses. There had also been a news report in which an anonymous tipster was said to have accused the archbishop of having had a homosexual relationship with a man.
The archbishop issued this statement: Regarding article published in Paraiba printed newspaper, this weekend, I will clarify: what slanderously stated by ANONYMOUS, is devoid of documentary evidence, must be rejected, because there is no answer to the series of accusatory rumors.
Item 7: The website of the Benedict XVI Institute in the archdiocese of Paraiba has issued the following statement: “Archbishop of Paraiba Forced to Resign” – In his pastoral government, [he] stood out by a relentless fight against communism and participated in the protests that overthrew the Dilma government. He was also a strong supporter of the traditional family which led him to become the enemy of the lobby. Last year, he launched along with Dom Dom Robert Vasa (Bishop of Santa Rosa, California) and Mons. Athanasius Schneider (Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan) the book “Preferential option for the family,” that has become in Brazil the refuge for Catholics who do not want to follow the “Anglican” doctrine of the synod of the family.
Item 8: Very shortly after the issuance of the Exhortation of Desolation, Amoris Laetitia, Bishop Vasa gave an interview in which he described the pope’s document as an “intriguing, engaging, and delightfully challenging expression of hope for married love” and insisted that the pope is “not watering down the truth, he’s urging a compassionate education and catechesis on what the church teaches and why.” He pointed to the paragraph of the document that said “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” but added that “nonetheless we have to strive to accompany everyone to see their own innate goodness and at the same time acknowledge that sometimes our behaviors are not consistent with the moral law.”
Not exactly the thundering defence of Catholic doctrine one might expect from an “ultra-conservative” co-author of a book opposing the Kasper Proposal.
Item 9: In June, the pope – on his own initiative – issued a “tough” change to canon law, to allow the “swift” removal of bishops who fail to “protect children.” Everyone at the time, including some of the Trad bloggers, started fluttering over what a wonderful thing this was that the Vatican – henceforth known by its new official WUWTS title, “the Castle of Lies” – was doing everything possible to “protect children”.
Because if we’re sure about anything, it’s that Pope Francis really, REALLY prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of the young folk… amirite?
Everyone except me, apparently.
Twitter exchange: 4 Jun
John Zmirak: First good decision he has made: Approves Procedures to Remove Bishops Who Botch Abuse Cases
Hilary White: How long til there’s a “credible” accusation against his enemies? Quick way to get rid of someone.
I must say they got started faster than even I expected. That was just under a month.
Now, just this week, we’ve had a very interesting speech from Presumptive Pope Francis, in which he talks quite specifically about what he will do about his enemies. But the terms he uses are rather odd… as usual… What’s interesting is that he has accepted – again – the pejorative term “ultra-conservatives” as describing his enemies.
Speaking to the Argentine newspaper La Nacion, the pope said,
“They do their work, I do mine. I want an open and understanding Church which accompanies the wounded families. They say ‘no’ to everything. I continue my path without being sidetracked. I do not behead people [sic]. I never have liked it. Let me repeat: I reject conflict.”
[Pope Francis] concluded with a conspicuous smile: “You remove a nail by applying pressure upwards. Or you tranquilize them, put them to the side, when they reach retirement age.” [emphasis added]
Now, isn’t that an interesting comment. “You remove a nail by applying pressure upwards.” In the case of bishops he wants to get rid of, what do you imagine that might mean? What might “pressure upwards” from below have meant in Paraiba? Might it have been dissatisfied leftist priests? People who might be willing to bring forward allegations?
Certainly we have seen that this is a pope who has no qualms about using deception, manipulation and subterfuge to get what he wants.
“Archbishop Forte has in fact revealed a ‘behind the scenes’ [moment] from the Synod: ‘If we speak explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried,’ said Archbishop Forte, reporting a joke of Pope Francis, ‘you do not know what a terrible mess we will make. So we won’t speak plainly, do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.’
‘Typical of a Jesuit,’ Abp Forte joked.”
Yes, isn’t it.
So, I guess now we have to keep an eye very carefully trained on the little diocese of Santa Rosa, California and its bishop.