Whether someone agrees or not with what Archbishop Vigano has been writing and doing, in his “Third Statement” released this past week, he asks the question that is now confronting every Catholic in the United States who is striving to be faithful to the established teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Here are Vigano’s words: “How could you, you who were aware of the truth, remain silent in the midst of so much falsehood and depravity?”
This is the question every one of us must ask ourselves.
What is the truth that forces us to respond? This truth is that it is all too apparent that there is very little accountability for the clergy in the Catholic Church.
For years, even decades, “Catholic” politicians have been voting to support and even expand abortion rights in the United States. Priests and even bishops have been guilty of sexually abusing minors and adults. The Pope, and many cardinals, bishops and priests have openly supported and encouraged unchaste homosexuality. It is clear that there is a serious problem with homosexual priests and bishops. Pope Francis has issued statements and documents which compromise the traditional moral teachings of the Church. Almost the entire clergy, including our most orthodox bishops and priests, has abandoned placing any significant emphasis on the Church’s teachings on contraception. We all know that the great majority of Catholic married couples are not adhering to the Church’s teachings on contraception. Our Church teaches that this is a mortal sin. Shouldn’t this be a prominent issue in the Church?
Vigano refers in his Third Statement to the “conspiracy of silence” in the Catholic Church. As to all of the circumstances described above, which cry out for at least someone in authority to acknowledge the problem and seek correction, there is a conspiracy of silence. There has finally been a response to the sexual abuse of minors, but doctrinal abuse has generally gone unchallenged. Even the response on sexual abuse has been late by many decades and has serious inadequacies.
In many of the blogs and other public discussions on this problem, there are many proposed suggestions as to what the laity should do. The laity are obviously limited by the fact that lay persons will never have authority over clergy under Canon Law. The laity has influence but no authority.
There’s an even bigger problem. It’s clear that the percentage of people who call themselves Catholic and are striving to be faithful to the teachings of the Church is small, much less than 50%. So even if all these Catholics in a particular diocese communicate their concerns, should they expect a substantive response? Are there enough of them to matter? And if there is no adequate response, what do these Catholics do then?
I don’t know the answer. In the past week. I have had several conversations about all this with Catholics whom I know, and similar conversations are going on around the country. The dominant theme is that it is a matter of personal integrity, personal conscience, to do and say something. I’d be curious to know what suggestions you have. I am challenging myself to do something. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do.