No peace for the good - Fr Joe Borg

No peace for the good - Fr Joe Borg

Isaiah quotes the good Lord saying that there is no peace for the wicked. Well written, but probably only partially true. Sometimes peace eludes the good as well. Take Pope Francis, for example. His summer this year will be a very long, hot one; very little quiet and peace in that.

Francis has never been the kind of man that takes long summer holidays. In August 2014 he told journalists on the plane to South Korea that the last time he took a holiday outside of Buenos Aires was in 1975. He also broke the age-old papal custom of going to Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills south of Rome for July and August. Francis says that instead he prefers to stay at home taking things a bit easier than usual and sleeping a little longer. Commentators came up with the word ‘staycation’ to describe this stay-at-home vacation.

But this year’s staycation will be shorter than usual, if it happens at all. Pope Francis – and the Church – have now reached what Robert Mickens describes in a recent number of La Croix as ‘the Kennedy moment’.

In 1961 Gore Vidal, the American writer and intellectual, told Kennedy that he must break up the military-industrial complex as a do or die option. Kennedy’s riposte was that if he were to try and do that in his first term he would not have the time to do anything else. Consequently he would not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting re-elected.

The Pope has no need to worry about re-election but as Mickens notes, the sex abuse crisis has reached such a level that it has become a “Kennedy moment”, that is, Francis has now to dedicate all his energies to solving it whatever the price.

Whenever during the past decade – and more – it was thought that the worst of the crisis was over, Phoenix-like, it rose up again with a vehemence. Some commentators are saying that the crisis is now threatening an ecclesiastical meltdown if more radical action is not taken.

The sex abuse crisis has reached such a level that it has become a ‘Kennedy moment’

The Pope burnt his fingers badly with the abuse situation in Chile. He was ill-advised and defended those who deserved no defence. It was our own archbishop that helped him to know the truth of the situation and start taking drastic action. But the ink was hardly dry on Charles Scicluna’s report when new allegations of abuses sprouted abundantly in Chile and elsewhere.

Besides, the victims who fronted the struggle for justice are now asking for the blood of retired Cardinal Francisco Errázuriz. They allege that he knew about abuse and did nothing. The catch here is that Errázuriz is a close friend of the Pope and also serves on the Pope’s ‘C9’ council of cardinal-advisers from around the world, with whose help Francis wants to reform the Church. A hard test challenges Francis.

Then Mgr Wilson, Archbishop of Adelaide, was given a prison sentence for allegedly hiding abuse. He was forced to resign as was the highly influential Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a first for the Catholic Church. A number of priests alleged that McCarrick abused them. His case is partly similar to that of Cardinal O’Brien which was handled by Archbishop Scicluna.

The logical question of many is: who is next? It cannot be that there are no others in similar very high places.

What baffles many is that perpetrators of different kinds of abuse then take strong public stances against that abuse. Fr James Alison, a Catholic theologian who identifies himself as gay in the The Tablet (August 1) wrote that the leading force behind the term “gender ideology”, and the campaign against it, was a gay cardinal and that a gay priest wrote the official 2005 explanation as to why gay men could not be priests!

This summer Pope Francis has to address this problem with all his energy even if it risks bogging down his pontificate. It would be interesting to follow the strategy that he will adopt and the role that Scicluna will play in it.

The Prime Minister and Mrs Muscat should be congratulated that Magistrate Bugeja did not find any link between them and Egrant. They are deservedly happy and relieved.

The country will also be happier and relieved if the many remaining unanswered questions about Egrant were resolved and when the other inquests investigating corruption allegations are finalised. It is only then that we will have a full picture of the situation.

What the country does not need is the systematic campaign being conducted through selective leaks through the media to frame Simon Busuttil. He has his plusses and his weak points. But one thing is certain: he would not invent a lie to frame anyone or be part of a conspiracy to do the same.

Challenging him about political responsibility is legitimate but tying to frame him by a cat and mouse game of selective leaking from a report regrettably only in the hands of the Attorney General, the Police and the Prime Minister is not on.

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