“Many funerals are celebrated by priests and ministers who did not know the deceased when they lived.

That can lead to the celebrating priest or minister painting a very unrealistic picture of the departed person.

That is not happening today. I knew Father Graham for 20 years and he has lived  near me in Larne for 15 of those years.

Most of Graham’s friends had a love/no love lost relationship with him. And t hat was he and I too.

Our relationship was a mixture of warmth and frustration.

Graham was born in the South of England. He parents were very aloof and they gave Graham the impression that was not as good and others – which gave him a feeling of inferiority and a fear of groups of people.

This left him feeling rejected, hurt and at times angry and lonely. 

He was born into the Church of England but very early felt called to the Catholic Church and so he converted. Steadily he felt called to priesthood and having a great love for tradition and the Latin Mass he joined the Society of St. Pius X at Econe in Switzerland. He loved the rebel archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.


Eventually he moved to a French archdiocese and later returned to England where was ordained by an independent catholic bishop.

In the early 2000’s he found himself without a bishop and appealed to me to adopt him – and I did. He joined The Oratory Society in 2004.

Graham would have been a perfect candidate for one of those TV shows about hoarders who fill their homes with attractive and unattractive bric-a-bac. 

Those who involved in his two most moves knew to our cost, the amount of clutter he had collected over the past 50 or 60 years. 

Because of his childhood experienced very severe anxiety condition and also a very debilitating essential tremor. He also developed a social phobia.

He tried handling these conditions with copious betablockers which did his heart no good. He also developed an addiction to what Ian Paisley used to call the Devil’s Buttermilk. And that became a very big problem.

Last year I spent a solid 6 months driving Graham to all kinds of doctors and counsellor. Eventually we arrived at the day before he was due to go into hospital for detox and rerhab. We had one last appointment that day with a consultant who told him that the treatment would cost £20,000 and therefore he asked Graham to declare that he would make a very serious effort to decide not to drink again. In his posh English accent Graham replied


We were both quickly ushered out of the doctor’s office – and that was the end of detox and rehab.

There was no detox or rehab and so it was back to cider soup.

Many people were very good to Graham.

There was Brother Jim – a fellow Little Brother – who cooked for him, did his laundry and was at his beck and call night and day. It started off well but Graham’s demands became impossible and there was a divorce.

There was his ex army chum – Colin – an army cooked who made him many nice dinners. But that relationship was choppy too.

There were Carole and Kevin who had him in their home and visited him in hospital.

There was Alison – the supervisor of the fold we got him into some time ago.

There was Angela who cleaned and shopped for him.

And then there was Father Paul – an Oratory priest – who visited him regularly – listened patiently to his woes and who washed his laundry.

Life throws up all kinds of problems in our paths. Often we find solutions. But some problems have no human solutions.

And that’s when Doctor God steps in!

Graham had finally run out of options and solutions and God said: “Big Fella, its time you came home to me”.

That happened at 2 am last Friday morning when Graham, already unconscious simply stopped breathing.

He heart and liver had failed.

St Augustin said


Graham is finally at rest – no anxiety – no essential tremor.

And for that today we say” 











In spite of a lot of pressure not to the bishop of Kerry – a certain Ray Browne – ordained King Puck – who had a certain reputation in Maynooth.

We met several people who now know King Puck – one being the choir mistress of the parish Chamber Choir – Martina.


Martina – who also works in Cassidy’s Restaurant in Tralee served us a beautiful meal there on Friday evening.

By the way, if you are ever in Tralee the two best eateries are Cassidys and Bella Bia. Lovely food, great staff and very reasonably priced.

King Puck joined the Chamber Choir as a singer last week.

On Friday evening we joined Tim Landers – the Tralee native who is a well known Irish actor – having had parts in FAIR CITY and GAME OF THRONES.


We joined Tim for a drink in Paddy Macs pub in Tralee.


My blog today is a bit short as I have the funeral of a priest of The Oratory Society, today, Sunday in Larne – Father Graham Colby.

I’ll tell you about Father Colby on Tuesday.

Tomorrow – Part 11 of the Tralee blog.





His training course took place in the St. John of God psychiatric hospital in Dublin.

The plan for Gorgeous seems to have him as a deacon chaplain at first and if all goes well to ordain him a priest at a later stage.

The Dublin priest wrote:


Google cpe news.

See photo of Dec 3 2018 graduation at St. John of God Hospital Stillorgan.

The Rev Mr now has to take this certificate of cpe and portfolio of studies/practice as a trainee hospital chaplain to be interviewed by the RC committee of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education Ireland Ltd – a self selected organisation that decides who is qualified to be a hospital chaplain’

This committee operates under the bishop’s conference – so Gorgeous will get a very well paid chaplaincy post – vacancy at St. Vincent’s Elm Park where his old cathedral chum has been demoted to – all pension, tax, generous car mileage etc.


He can play deaconate dress up or dress down when at work.

And then be priested and take a pay cut !! when Bishop Farrell – Cardinal Farrell’s brother – returns to Dublin as short term metropolitan tasked to reorganise the Irish dioceses to 17 which the bishops have been bold enough not to implement.

Will Coddles secretary be going to Rome as well?


Genuine Homo Macho Dom”


I think that Dermo has given us all a run around the park.

We were led to believe that Gorgeous; ecclesiastical career had ended.

Then we find him living in an empty Dublin presbytery.

We were led to believe that he had joined the Gardaí and was pursuing other careers.

Now we find out that he is still a deacon, still living in the presbytery, being sent to train as a hospital chaplain and to be appointed a chaplain, possible in Elm Park – where his old chum from the Pro Cathedral is also a chaplain.

And then that bishop/archbishop Farrell may ordain him a priest.

As yes indeed, the clerical and episcopal clique look after each other well.

Play the game, and no matter what, they have your back.

Do them special “favours” and you’re on the the pig’s back for life.

Jesus wept!




Fr. Herman Geissler

Hannah Brochhaus CNA

An Austrian priest and theologian has resigned from his position at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, amid charges that he made sexual advances toward a woman in the confessional several years ago.
The priest maintains his innocence.
Fr. Hermann Geissler, 53, has been an official within the CDF since 1993, and in 2009 became the head of the congregation’s teaching office.
A statement released on January 29 said that Geissler “affirms that the accusation made against him is untrue, and asks that the canonical process already initiated continue. He also reserves the right for possible civil legal action.”
Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed to CNA that allegations against Geissler are being examined by the CDF, which is the Vatican office charged with reviewing allegations of this kind.
CDF prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria accepted the priest’s resignation, which was submitted on January 28. The statement said Geissler decided to step down “to limit the damage already done to the Congregation and to his Community.”
Geissler is a prominent scholar of Blessed Cardinal Henry Newman and a member of the Familia spiritualis Opus (FSO), informally known as “Das Werk.”
The accusations against him became public at the end of September, when a (now-former) member of “Das Werk,” Doris Wagner, claimed in a lengthy piece in the German newspaper DIE ZIET that she had been sexually harassed in the confessional by a member of the religious community she then belonged to, identified in the article as “Hermann G.”
Wagner again spoke of the accusations last November, saying at a conference in Rome that she had received unwanted sexual advances and been “groomed” for sex by “a priest working to this day as capo ufficio at the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith,” according to La Croix International.
The solicitation of a sin against the sixth commandment within the context of confession is considered in Church law to be a “grave delict,” or offence, for a which a priest can be dismissed from the clerical state.


The crime of a priest using the confessional for sex is a most serious canonical crime.

To use a holy entity for sexual gain is such a contradiction.

That a member of the Congretion of Divine Worship which investigates clerical sexual crimes committed this crime is most serious.

It shows that the RC church at the highest level is sexually compromised is devastating.

This is a destroying development.

It is Armageddon.



We made our way from Larne to Tralee yesterday – distance 300+ miles – 7 hour journey.

We stopped in the Dunraven Arms hotel in Adare for lunch wit h a Cloyne priest who wanted to discuss the rampant homosexuality in Cloyne and in particular of the case of the PP living with a young Eastern European male.

On then to Tralee where King Puck is a curate.


After our long journey we had a meal in the Bella Bia Italian restaurant in Tralee.

Just Euro 15 for the pre theatre menu which was as tasty as it was reasonable.


Tomorrow I have a wedding and more meetings.

In upcoming blogs I will be dealing with Cloyne/Kerry issues.



Michael Menke-Peitzmeyer,

Paderborn Archdiocese Accepts Seminarians with Homosexual Orientation
January 29, 2019 Editor Ordained Ministry Uncategorized
From Kirche und Leben:
The Catholic Archdiocese of Paderborn in Germany will expressly accept homosexual candidates for ordination, according to seminary rector Michael Menke-Peitzmeyer, provided that they observe celibacy.

“We must distinguish between a homosexual orientation of a person and homosexual practice,” he said.

This applies to all sexual orientations. Homosexual practice would be a reason for exclusion, according to Menke-Peitzmeyer.


May 2018

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis warned Italian bishops this week to vet carefully applicants to the priesthood and reject anyone they suspected might be homosexual, local media reported on Thursday.
“Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open,” the pope was quoted as saying by newspaper La Stampa’s Vatican Insider service. “If in doubt, better not let them enter.”
The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the remarks, which Vatican Insider and Il Messaggero said were made at a closed-door gathering on Monday.
Francis’s meeting with Italian bishops came just a day after a Chilean man who suffered clerical sexual abuse quoted the pope as telling him in a private conversation that God had made him gay and loved him that way.
The Vatican declined to comment on the report which touched off fierce media speculation that Francis was softening the Church stance on homosexuality. It has previously condemned homosexuality as an immoral disorder if actively practised.
In a 2005 document, released under Francis’s predecessor Pope Benedict, the Vatican said the Church could admit into the priesthood those who had clearly overcome homosexual tendencies for at least three years.
But it said practicing homosexuals and those with “deep-seated” gay tendencies and those who support a gay culture should be barred.
The reported comments to the bishops might appease conservatives who have grown alarmed at the way Francis has dramatically shifted the language the Church has used about homosexuality since his election in 2013.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” the pope said on his first overseas trip in 2013. In 2016, he said he had ministered to people with unfulfilled homosexual tendencies as well as homosexuals who were not able to remain chaste, as the Church asks them to.
“When a person arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say: ‘Go away because you are homosexual’,” he said.
Pope Benedict wrote in 2005 that homosexuality was “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil”.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



I am heading to Cloyne and Kerry dioceses in the next few days.

There are two reasons for this trip.

1. To celebrate a wedding in Tralee where Father King Puck is a curate.

2. To have two meetings with concerned Catholics from Cloyne and Kerry.

I will also have a solicitor with me to witness affadavits.

Many people in Cloyne are still terribly shocked at the Kildorrey altar sex incident – and the failure of the bishop – Crean – to react and address the horrible sacrilege.

There are also a serious number of Cloyne parishioners who are shocked at the level of clerical homosexual activity.

Again, Crean has received many letters of complaint about these matters which he has failed to acknowledge or answer.

Crean is obviously out of hid depth and not fit for purpose.


Although not as bad as Cloyne, Kerry has its problems too and a weak bishop in Browne.

I will be listening to these people and encouraging them to take matters into their own hands by:

1. Withdrawing funding.

2. Attend Mass at churches run by religious orders.

3. Report what they know to local and national media.

People can contact me at:

0044 7488 374364.








These three guys seem to be friends or know each other.

They are obviously youngish right wing priests with a hankering over the “good old days” of the RC church.

I find them all very strange.

Watch these videos and let me know what you think.




A Catholic priest has stated that Catholics in Northern Ireland have started supporting the DUP because it is “the most consistently pro-life and pro-traditional marriage party in Northern Ireland.” Fr. Owen Gorman, parish priest in Aghadrumsee, wrote in Catholic monthly newspaper ‘Alive’ that “Catholics have started to support Peter Robinson’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).” He believes that Catholics “whose faith informs their voting” are now less likely to vote for Sinn F�in “because Sinn F�in favours legislating for ‘gay marriage’ and supports the availability of abortion in certain circumstances (e.g. in cases of rape, incest, or the threat of suicide).” The outspoken cleric from Castleblaney Co. Monaghan also criticised the SDLP for its support for full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Fr. Gorman wrote: “While Sinn F�in support remains high in the Catholic community, they do not, however, have the support of Catholics who are committed to the cause of life and marriage.” He points to 12 March when Sinn Fein (joined by two Alliance MLAs and the Green Party) blocked an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill which would have banned abortions being performed by private clinics. That amendment needed cross-community support and Sinn F�in’s petition of concern meant that, although 53 MLAs supported the amendment and 40 opposed, it did not win enough support from nationalist MLAs.
The breakdown of the vote was 44 unionists and nine nationalists for the abortion amendment, while 26 nationalists, five unionists and nine others voted against.
According to Fr. Gorman: “Catholics understand therefore, that a vote for Sinn F�in is a vote for the weakening of the institution of marriage and the right to life for all the unborn.” He added: “Sinn F�in opposition was crucial to defeating the amendment. No wonder then that many Catholics, not wanting to betray their conscience and their faith, won’t support the party.” On 1 October 2012, the DUP raised a petition of concern against a joint Sinn F�in and Green Party proposal by Sinn Fein and the Green party to allow full marriage rights for same sex couples.

Fr. Gorman noted: “Unionist parties opposed the motion but both Sinn F�in and the SDLP supported it. That the SDLP lent their support to the redefinition of marriage along same-sex lines surprised and disappointed many Catholics.” He concludes that Catholics “who uphold marriage” are beginning to look toward the DUP because it “promotes the biblical understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman.” Fr. Gorman was abroad this week and therefore unable to explain to The Impartial Reporter his evidence of Catholic support for the DUP, particularly in Fermanagh South Tyrone, which traditionally has a nationalist majority.
In response to the priest’s claims, DUP MLA Arlene Foster said: “There has been growing evidence for some time that stable devolution in Northern Ireland has allowed people to look beyond some of the traditional political barriers.” She added: “There have been a number of important debates within the Assembly and at Westminster in recent months where we are aware that people from a Catholic background will have supported the DUP stance,” adding that the DUP “wishes to attract support from people from every background.” Sinn F�in MLA Phil Flanagan added: “Regardless of what some people attempt to portray as fact, Sinn F�in is not in favour of abortion; the party voted against the extension of the 1967 Act to the north when it was proposed in the Assembly.

“However, Sinn F�in believe that where a woman’s life or mental health is at risk or in grave danger then the final decision on seeking a termination should rest with the woman.” On same sex marriage, he says: “Sinn F�in, as a party, advocates the right to social, economic, gender and cultural equality. This encompasses equality for all, irrespective of race, age, marital or family status, sexual orientation, physical or mental capacities, ethnicity, social origin, political or religious affiliations, or membership of the travelling Community.”




Our Lady, Queen of the Fairies, Pray for us.



Priest refuses Holy Communion to Irish politician who voted to legalize abortion
IrishCentral Staff
Jan 27, 2019

A Catholic parish priest denied Holy Communion to Robert Troy, a Fianna Fáil member of the Irish parliament, at a recent funeral mass. Troy is the opposition spokesman on Transport and Tourism and one of Ireland’s rising young political stars.

fianna-fail-publishes-investing-in-tomorrow-630x443ROBERT TROY TD

The stated reason was that Troy voted to legalize abortion services in Ireland. Fr John Hogan, parish priest of Multyfarnham in Co Westmeath, denied the host to Troy during a requiem mass at St Nicholas’s parish church.
The priest had tweeted on December 1: “Looking over list of TDs who voted to reject amendments to the wicked abortion bill, I see the name of one who, only a few years ago, stood in my house & swore he was pro-life. The desire for power & popularity lead so many to do the most horrendous things. A salutary lesson.”
Troy, 37 and a former banker who had been regarded as “anti-choice,” revealed last month in an interview with Ireland’s Hot Press magazine why he voted yes.
“By voting no, would it prevent one termination?
“And I then said, ‘No, because what it does is, it victimises women and it forces them to go abroad.’ While I had concerns about the 12-week nature, I ultimately came down with the decision to vote yes.”
The Irish edition of the London Sunday Times Source says Thomas Deenihan, the bishop of Meath, which includes Hogan’s diocese has spoken to Father Hogan but refused to discuss what was said.

Hogan had been in controversy previously when he spoke out against civil partnership for gays, alleging Catholic politicians who supported it could not remain “in good standing with the church.”
The Times reports that “Hogan is also the director of the Fraternity of St Genesius, a Catholic association which says its members support ‘the men and women of the theatrical and cinematic arts through their daily prayers and sacrifices.’ A book he wrote, entitled Devotions to St Thomas Becket, was published last month.”
He is also very supportive of US efforts to ban abortion.
On January 18, he tweeted: “Every good wish & blessing to all my friends Stateside who are participating in the March for Life. Your continued witness is making a difference in the US: keep it up! Please remember & pray for us in Ireland as our campaign of resistance must now intensify for the cause of life.”
It is just the latest example of the backlash to the abortion vote. Last week Josepha Madigan, the Culture Minister who spearheaded the drive to legalize abortion was denied a meeting room at a Catholic institution owned by the Sisters of Mercy.
The nuns’ congregation said “threats have been made of busloads of protesters being brought to the site.
“Many of the representations made to us refer to the speaker’s connection with the abortion referendum and bill, even though this topic is not the subject of her presentation,” Mary Reynolds, chief executive of the Mercy International Association, said in a letter.


Yesterday, I sent Mr Troy the following email:

Pat Buckley
Sun 27/01/2019 14:33

Dear Robert,

I wanted to drop you a note to say that I was very angry about John Hogan setting himself up as God, judging your conscience and refusing you Holy Communion.

I am NOT pro abortion but see it as the lesser of two evils in some very sad cases – like saving the life of a mother and in the case of rape etc.

However, you followed your Christian conscience in your decision about the vote – a hard decision to make – and only God is competent to judge your conscience.

This priest, Hogan, is playing God’s role and judging you.

He is absolutely in the wrong.

And one wonders what “sins” there are in his own life.

If you ever want to receive Holy Communion or a sacrament from me – I will serve you in that way.

The only one whose judgement we should fear is God’s – and certainly not a cleric of the Catholic Church which is constantly being shown to be corrupt and abusive to the core.

By the way, I am a Tullamore man.

Best Wishes,


(Bishop Pat Buckley)

I think that Priest Hogan must be some kind of right wing nut case?

I never of him until yesterday.

When I tried to look him up I found his Twitter account and discovered he had pre blocked me from viewing it.

If Hogan thinks that he can judge the conscience of another human being – he must also think that is a pure and sinless as Jesus was.

As he has taken it upon himself to publicly judge, condemn and refuse the Body of Christ to a fellow Christian – he has now become a legitimate target for the rest of us making inquiries into his own life, actions and “sins” – as Jesus said: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.

So, I would like to hear from people about this priest, Hogan!


What is the parish priest of a small rural parish doing establishing a Fraternity to pray for actors and their families?

I wouldn’t think that there are too many actors in Multyfarmham – apart from the PP.

2019-01-27 (1)




I have very mixed feelings about the ordination of women.

In principle I agree with it – but in practice I have misgivings about the women priests and ministers I have met.

What I am trying to say is that we should have women priests – but they should not be CLERICS!

The background to most of the RC church’s problems is to be found in CLERICS and CLERICALISM.

Jesus founded a very community based church – and the leaders in it, like Jesus himself, were SERVANTS and not MASTERS. He said: “I came to serve and not to be served. He 

But he was hardly gone away when the men in the community began to emerge as a ruling class.

That was worsened when the RC crowd threw in their lot with the emperor and you had a ready made establishment which has grown ever more power hungry by the day and year.

ry mixed feelings about the ordination of women.


“The word “Cleric” comes from the ecclesiastical Latin Clericus, for those belonging to the priestly class. In turn, the source of the Latin word is from the Ecclesiastical Greek Clericus, meaning appertaining to an inheritance, in reference to the fact that the Levitical priests of the Old Testament had no inheritance except the Lord.[1] “Clergy” is from two Old French words, clergié and clergie, which refer to those with learning and derive from Medieval Latin clericatus, from Late Latin clericus (the same word from which “cleric” is derived).[2] “Clerk”, which used to mean one ordained to the ministry, also derives from clericus. In the Middle Ages, reading and writing were almost exclusively the domain of the priestly class, and this is the reason for the close relationship of these words.[3] Within Christianity, especially in Eastern Christianity and formerly in Western Roman Catholicism, the term cleric refers to any individual who has been ordained, including deacons, priests, and bishops.[4] In Latin Roman Catholicism, the tonsure was a prerequisite for receiving any of the minor orders or major orders before the tonsure, minor orders, and the subdiaconate were abolished following the Second Vatican Council.[5] Now, the clerical state is tied to reception of the diaconate.[6] Minor Orders are still given in the Eastern Catholic Churches, and those who receive those orders are ‘minor clerics.'[7]
The use of the word “Cleric” is also appropriate for Eastern Orthodox minor clergy who are tonsured in order not to trivialize orders such as those of Reader in the Eastern Church, or for those who are tonsured yet have no minor or major orders. It is in this sense that the word entered the Arabic language, most commonly in Lebanon from the French, as kleriki (or, alternatively, cleriki) meaning “seminarian.” This is all in keeping with Eastern Orthodox concepts of clergy, which still include those who have not yet received, or do not plan to receive, the diaconate.
A priesthood is a body of priests, shamans, or oracles who have special religious authority or function. The term priest is derived from the Greek presbyter (πρεσβύτερος, presbýteros, elder or senior), but is often used in the sense of sacerdos in particular, i.e., for clergy performing ritual within the sphere of the sacred or numinous communicating with the gods on behalf of the community. instructed his disciples to follow that model of servanthood”. (Wikipedia)

I believe that the development of “priests” becoming “clerics” has done a disfavour to the church.

The priest/pastor/minister is the servant of the church community. The cleric, with its various and ascending ranks has led to ambition, abuse of power, sense of entitlement, corruption, etc.

We have too many “clerics” as it is – and we do not want to add women clerics to the cleric catalogue.

The whole notion of cleric needs to be abolished and also the great divide between clerics and laity.

One way to do this might be to go back to the Pauline doctrine of priests having a regular day job or profession – earning his own keep – serving the community voluntarily at evenings and weekends.

In a way this is how we operate at The Oratory. Our priests are self financing by being is work and serve the community when not in the regular work. Our priests have and do work as teachers, social workers, youth workers, addiction counselling etc. They get no income from The Oratory Society.

For 33 years I have, as well as being a priest and bishop, have worked as a journalist and columnist for which I was well paid and which I was able to fit my ministry around. I have also done voluntary work with cancer patients. And of course I get fees and donations for weddings – religious and non religious.

The women priests and ministers I have met dressed up like male clerics and were just as bossy and bullying as their male counterparts. That was because they were clerics in full time church employment.

The ordination of women needs to be done in the context of a non clerical structure.

The last thing we need is bullying and ambitious female deacons, priests and bishops.

It would make a bad situation worse.






NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER – Jan 25, 2019 by Robert McCabe
A month before the start of a global summit in Rome on the sex abuse crisis, a prominent church historian and theologian said last week that the issue poses the biggest challenge to the church in 500 years.
“This is not like the Protestant Reformation; it’s not,” Massimo Faggioli, a Villanova University professor, said in a talk at Immaculate Conception Church in Hampton, Virginia. “But, in my opinion, it’s the most serious crisis in the Catholic Church since the Protestant Reformation.”
In an hour-long presentation, Faggioli set out to show how and why this particular moment in the history of the church has become so critical and what the crisis is telling Catholics about the state of the church. The talk was sponsored by the Bishop Keane Institute, a ministry offered by the parish, which brings prominent Catholic speakers to south eastern Virginia.
While the crisis has gone global, said Faggioli, one strain of it is peculiar to the United States, where it is inseparable from such hot-button issues as sexuality, homosexuality and gender. The scandal in the United States has resulted in a “theological crisis,” he said. The crisis is also being used by some, according to Faggioli, to mount a campaign opposing Pope Francis.
Last year was a game-changer in the unfolding of the sex-abuse crisis, Faggioli said, a phenomenon that has become unrelenting.
“It’s a past that doesn’t want to pass; it keeps coming back,” he said. “It’s had an impact on me as a scholar and as a Catholic.”
Almost as if recounting a bad dream, Faggioli walked his listeners through the events of 2018, beginning with Pope Francis’ disastrous visit to Chile, his complicated visit to Ireland, the release of an Australian government study on the crisis and abuse-related reports that surfaced from India, Germany, France and Spain, noting that the year showed if nothing else that the crisis is no longer viewed as just an American problem, but a global issue.
Attack on Francis
It was, nevertheless, the firestorm that erupted in the U.S. church over the alleged abuse of seminarians and priests by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, followed by the extraordinary letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, accusing Pope Francis of having known about and having covered for McCarrick, that pushed the crisis to a new level, Faggioli suggested.

When more than two dozen U.S. bishops later backed Viganò, the church moved to a place it had not seen for hundreds of years, he said: “You have to go back six centuries — the 1400s — to see a national church being split publicly about the legitimacy of a pope.”
The shocking part of the Viganò controversy was not his letter, but the decision by the band of U.S. bishops to take his side, creating the “church equivalent of the Cuban missile crisis,” Faggioli said.
In late August to mid-September, as the Viganò debate played out, Faggioli said he found himself “going to bed not knowing the next morning if we had one church or multiple churches.”
“That’s how bad it was, it seems to me,” he added.
Sandwiched in between the McCarrick disclosures and the Viganò uproar: the release of the Pennsylvania attorney general’s sex-abuse report in mid-August, leading to a domino-like series of similar investigations in other states around the country, all of which promise that this moment in the church’s history will continue to play out, Faggioli said.
The crisis has exposed fault lines in the U.S. Catholic Church, he suggested.
“It has become clear, more than before, that the abuse crisis is not simply a series of abuses that were covered up,” Faggioli told the audience. “It has become part of an ecclesial fragmentation that really puts at risk one of the four things that every Catholic says when he or she says the creed,” alluding to the “one” Catholic Church and the bishops who appeared to lay down a challenge to the pope.
Bottom line, there is one thing a Catholic bishop has to be about — communion with the bishop of Rome, he noted: “If that element fails, we have moved to a very dangerous situation.”
The crisis, he continued, has revealed a series of fractures in what’s called “global Catholicism.”
“The sex-abuse crisis is being manipulated into a crisis to radically delegitimize a pope that certain quarters in American Catholicism, from the very beginning, never acknowledged as legitimate,” Faggioli said.
Only months after his election in 2013, while Francis was still trying “to understand where was the kitchen in the Vatican,” certain quarters in American Catholicism “had decided that this pope is not a real pope,” he noted.
All of this serves as a backdrop to what transpired last year, a delicate moment in the U.S. church, Faggioli suggested.
An American problem
Most facets of the sex-abuse crisis — denial, cover-up, corruption, clericalism — there’s no question about any of that, Faggioli said, while adding that there is a second dimension.
“This version of the abuse crisis is really an American problem,” because it is linked inextricably, inseparably, to the divisions in the church about sexuality, homosexuality and gender, he said.

This had led to a “theological crisis which you don’t have in other countries with the same passion, with the same vitriol, with the same potential for, really, an ecclesial division,” he added.
In terms of what the crisis reveals about what needs to be done theologically, a “systematic, theological effort has barely started,” Faggioli said.
In an aside, he mentioned that in mid-January, he began teaching a course to undergraduates at Villanova focused on the sex abuse crisis.
For his students, born in the late 1990s, the abuse-plagued church “is the only church they know,” he said.
Among the theological issues the crisis raises are what to do with the Vatican, the papacy and the Roman Curia.
“The crisis is asking us: Do we want a centralized Catholicism as it used to be until yesterday or do we want to, do we think that we can, decentralize?” he asked.
For centuries, popes were all but invisible until Vatican I in the 19th century, followed by 20th century papacies that he likened to papacies “on steroids.”
The most critical, distinguishing failure of leadership during the sex abuse crisis lies with bishops, though “there is a paradox here,” Faggioli said.
One of the legacies of Vatican II was the empowerment of bishops, which essentially boiled down to something like this:
“This church cannot be an imperial church where the pope is like the emperor,” he noted. “We need a cohort of bishops that can govern this church. … The abuse crisis is a huge wake-up call.”
As a corollary of sorts to Vatican II’s buttressing of the episcopate was its emphasis on the power of the laity, though that theology, he added, has “remained largely on paper.”
The governance of the Catholic Church of the future is going to have to involve more lay people, though today they remain, in the big picture, largely invisible, a situation that is going to have to change, Faggioli said.
Another theological issue cited: the priesthood and, particularly, the formation of priests.
Seminaries are largely the invention of the Council of Trent in the mid-1500s, with the only real changes since being largely decorative, he noted.
While the curriculum has been updated, attention to candidates’ affective lives and development remains “totally secondary,” Faggioli said, adding that the priesthood has become even more idealized than it was in the past and that isolation from the people, particularly women, is still the model.
“That is a huge problem,” he said.
A delicate moment
Closing out his talk, Faggioli said that the abuse crisis is “a very, very delicate moment — it’s really hard.”
As a scholar, he said he sees his role as not just tracking the latest news but thinking “theologically” about what the crisis tells him and “what it calls us to think about.”
There is no exit, as it were, no escape from the responsibility: “Those who are in the church, they have to do something for those who can’t, because it is too hard for them to be in the church. Being spared by the abuse crisis means that you have to give something back. That is how I see this moment.”
During a question-and-answer period following his talk, Faggioli said he was somewhat optimistic about the upcoming summit in Rome on the sex abuse crisis, though he didn’t think it would have much impact on the United States.
The so-called Dallas Charter enacted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 has made a difference, he said, so much so that it has emerged as a model.
“The global picture is of the church that, paradoxically, has to catch up to the United States,” he noted earlier in his talk.
Asked afterward one-on-one about the prospect of a seemingly never-ending series of reports like the one issued by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office last summer, Faggioli said, citing Pope Francis, that there is a need for a “hermeneutic,” an interpretation of the abuse crisis, a more holistic approach that transcends legal truth and who’s guilty and who’s innocent, as much as that’s needed.
The issue encompasses not just the perpetrators and those who may have protected them, but individuals who while not technically guilty or technically innocent, were on to it, who knew that something was happening, but did not act.
“They’re part of the picture,” Faggioli said.
[Robert McCabe is a former reporter for the Virginian-Pilot.]