Tuesday, February 17, 2009

John Paul II and Maciel

This post is not a diatribe against the late pontiff, but an attempt to understand the consistently peculiar response to allegations of clerical homosexuality and pederasty he displayed in his appointment of bishops, as well as his defence of and support for Marcial Maciel, the disgraced founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

John Paul II was not a man who approved of sodomy, or of the abuse and corruption of seminarians, or indeed of sexual predation of any kind. But his lack of decisive action not only in regard to Maciel but also in regard to the clerical sex abuse crisis generally, gave the impression to many observers, Catholics included, that the late pope was unconcerned about these things, or that he was unwilling to take action, or was incompetent, or all of the above.

John Paul II grew up in Poland, witnessing first the Nazi terror from 1939 to 1945, and then the deadening repression of Soviet-style communism. As a young priest, he ministered in a state which was officially atheist and materialistic. He experienced at first hand the same fraught tensions that exist between the Church and the state in every such country.

Naturally the communist regime had an interest in filling Polish sees with men known to be sympathetic, or at least not openly hostile to marxism; men who would, as it were, collaborate with the Revolution. In this way the regime exercised an influence over the Church.

Candidates for the episcopate who adhered too firmly to the social teachings of the Church as expressed in the encyclicals of the Roman pontiffs were, naturally, troublesome for the regime. The regime could prevent the appointment of such a man merely by whispering abroad that he was an active homosexual, whereat the Church would then prescind from the appointment. Candidates thus excluded were often the most Catholic, most devout and most hostile to the marxist status quo. These were often the most suitable candidates for episcopal office, and the slur of homosexuality was merely a tool employed to ensure they never achieved it.

Melancholicus remembers hearing that when John Paul II had become pope, his view of the universal Church was influenced by his experience of the travails of the Church in communist Poland. With the collapse of morals and discipline in the aftermath of Vatican II, a culture often openly favourable to homosexual behaviour bloomed in seminaries and in houses of formation. The spread of homosexuality among all ranks of the clergy in that time is well documented.

Hence, when a particular see became vacant, and the sovereign pontiff was given the terna of names from which to choose the new bishop, it sometimes happened that he would be advised not to choose one particular name on the terna, since that man was known to be given to unnatural vice.

Whereat the experience of communist Poland would kick in; the sovereign pontiff, convinced that this was only a slur by enemies within the Church to damage a saintly man’s reputation, would conclude that the accused man must be the best candidate, and so he would be appointed. In this manner, the late Holy Father appointed Daniel Ryan and Anthony O’Connell, and others too numerous to mention.

His lethargy in responding to the scandals of 2002 may in part be explained by the likelihood that he simply did not believe these allegations—at least not until the evidence had mounted up and had been placed before his eyes.

Allegations concerning the immorality of the late Marcial Maciel began circulating while the latter was still alive; in fact, there were reports that all was not well in the conduct of that priest as long ago as the 1950s. It is clear, though, that John Paul II thoroughly disregarded these allegations (he certainly knew of them) since he interpreted such allegations as the malicious work of enemies of the Church seeking to ruin a virtuous man and wreck a thriving apostolate.

Corroborating evidence for this thesis? Melancholicus has none to hand, but if anyone reading this is able to point him in the right direction, he would be most grateful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In communist Poland the Commie Party also had to approve any candidate for clerical advancement.Cardinals ,bishops submitted usually 4 or 5 names. Karol W was always approved of by the regime . If the story that has circulated was true why then was Karol always given the green light by the Party over other candidates?
Given the fact that Dodd also claimed the communist party planted homosexuals in seminaries who were instructed to look orthodox until they advanced to the highest position they could in the Church before they let loose their unorthodox views.How does the aforementioned rumor jive with these facts?