La Cosa Nostra


Dear Uncle Frank,

I hope that by now you will have had a chance to view my NBC interview on YouTube. You will see that I did everything Parolin wanted, and majored on the great tasks to save humanity and the planetwhich you have undertaken.  I am afraid I am not as glib and self-confident about these interviews as you are. But I am sure Pietro  is right that this is the best way to deflect press attention from investigation of the unfortunate Vigano business.

To help with that strategy I am sending you a document I have found invaluable: The National Catholic Reporter Guide to Effective Virtue Signalling. It covers all the main points from Global Warming through Plastic Waste, to White Rhinos and Ivory Poachers, to saving the Otter. I am sure you will find it useful during the coming months. Such a pity that JP II ruled out women’s ordination!

Investigative journalism is the curse of our age. There is no telling what mischief The Washingtom Post could get up to if not effectively deflected. Remember Watergate. But so far, it seems, we are sitting pretty!

Your affectionate nephew,



No sooner had the accusations of Archbishop Vigano been made public than a raft of liberal commentators weighed in with a conspiracy theory. The astonishing claims, they said, were absurdly exaggerated, and part of a plot by conservative Catholics to undermine the progressive work of the Holy Father.

Such an approach clearly took its cue from the response of Francis himself to questions asked him on the flight home from Dublin. [see Silence not golden below]

But this policy (the ‘liberal conspiracy’ if you like) is already beginning to unravel.

Blase Cupich – not the sharpest knife in the box – gave an interview to NBC in which his best shot at defending the Pope was to suggest that Francis was preoccupied with more important matters, such as the migrant crisis and global warming. Rather predictably the ploy was no help either to the Pope or Cardinal Cupich. The Cardinal has now accused NBC of editing the footage in a way which distorted his meaning. NBC, in consequence, has made public the whole of the interview, in video and transcript.

Google it and judge for yourself. (As Francis might say.)

Meanwhile Ed Pentin and EWTN have been accused by Cardinal Maradiaga of wilful misrepresentation. Pentin has been described as a journalistic ‘hit man’, leaving open the question of who or what was his employer. [SSPX? Cardinal Burke? Cardinal Sarah? Vlaimir Putin?]

These claims and counter-claims are vulgar and unseemly. If allowed to continue they will make the Catholic Church an object of mirth and derision.

One man, and one alone, could put an end to it all.


Cardinal Cupich, not long after he ceased selling used cars

Silence not golden

“I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the sufficient journalistic ability to make your conclusions. It’s an act of trust.”

The usually garrulous pontiff – not for the first time – used silence to deal with a challenge to his authority. So, what was really going on in his answer on the aeroplane to the young woman from NBC? The clue is the tone of the campaign by allies of Francis which was immediately mounted when the Vigano Testimony surfaced.

Francis’s friends have studiously avoided answering the accusations directly. Instead they have sought to discredit Vigano as a witness: the vituperative language of his paper; his personal animus against the Pope and the prelates accused; his disappointment at failure to be further preferred.  Cardinal Cupich, to whom we can always look for an entertaining contribution, has sought to exonerate Francis on the grounds of pressing and important business.  The Pope was too engaged with the major issues of the day – global warming and the migrant crisis.

What does this tell us about Bergoglio’s tactics?

Surely that he is, for the time being, content to rely on the secular press, which he counts  as being on his side. They can, he supposes, be relied on to discredit Vigano as a homophobe and a disgruntled courtier. They will continue to sing the Pope’s praises as a liberal reformer assailed on every side by reactionaries and undesirables.

If the press comes up with the goods, Francis will have no need ever to address the issue.

But this, I think, is a serious miscalculation. It is one thing to accuse the National Catholic Register and LifeSite News of ploughing a familiar furrow: ‘they would say that wouldn’t they?’ And quite another to seek to submerge the accusations entirely in a blanket of silence.

Ordinary Catholics will remember Dallas, 2002, when (with Vatican approval) the American Catholic bishops adopted a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ of sexual abuse. Why is that policy, shocking as it was then, not being adopted now? Why is the Pope himself, as were so many American priests, not deemed to be guilty until proved innocent?

Silence will not, in this case, prove to be golden. Bergoglio will not be able to treat the Vigano accusations as he did the Dubia of the four cardinals. In the dubia case the laity were not up to speed on the issues involved, and viewed the matter as an internal wrangle among hierarchs.

This time it affects daily life in half the parishes of America, and feeds suspicions of corruption in high places which have long been privately held.



Mea culpa!

I based the claims that the Phoenix Park event was ‘sold out’ [see Pop Culture below] on information provided by Cardinal O’Farrell’s PR team. In fact the attendance proved to be around 100,000 – a little larger than a home game for Tottenham Hotspur.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


‘Weaponizing the abuse crisis’.

That is how some commentators have characterized the conflicting views about the causes of the widespread abuse which have started to surface since the publication of Archbishop Vigano’s letter.

Austen Ivereigh and The New York Times (who else?) seem to be of the opinion that Vigano is no more than a homophobe with personal grudges to settle. His blaming the whole scandal on a gay mafia with its tentacles in every part of the Church is said to be exaggerated to the point of hysteria.

Pope Francis, by contrast, attributes the rolling crisis to a ‘narrow legalism’ and ‘rampant clericalism’. No surprises there then.

Now, predictably, a group of ‘survivors’ is emerging crying a plague on both your houses, and claiming that the culture wars within the Catholic Church are submerging their pain and their demands for justice and reform.

It may well be that Vigano is a disgruntled traddie, and Francis, after all, has every right to grind his axes. Nothing on earth can stop him. But two things are certain.

The first is that the accusations of a cover-up involving people in very high places must now be transparently and independently investigated.

The second is that those guilty both of abuse and obfuscation must be seen to be punished.

Anything less will further damage the moral credibility of an already wounded Church