by Richard A. Viguerie and Mark Fitzgibbons
The sex abuse scandal and its cover-up within the Catholic Church require solutions that the institutional Church will be incapable of achieving on its own.
But the more serious problem is that since Vatican II the Church has been AWOL on Biblically based Christian moral issues affecting the core family and its relationship to God. From marriage, divorce, same-sex relations, sex outside marriage, and the love respect between men and women according to God’s laws, the Church has abandoned its role of moral teacher and spiritual guide telling people where the ‘guardrails’ are.
The Church’s abandonment of focus on the central and natural institution of the family has been accentuated by Pope Francis’ attention to socialist, earthly issues. His progressive politics-over-family approach is a symptom of the larger problems within the Church and its hierarchy.
No institution that is sick can cure itself, and the Catholic Church is grievously ill. Like any patient, the institutional Church must be a willing participant in the cure. But it will be up to the Catholic laity to administer the necessary fixes.
We join others who have already made the call for Pope Francis to resign, and ask you to do the same by clicking and signing this petition, which will be widely circulated to thousands of Catholic leaders including clergy, laity, and the media. While the Pope’s failures have been many, the flashpoint may be that he chose to ignore the warning issued by Apostolic Nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò about the pattern of sexual abuse under Archbishop McCarrick of Washington, D.C. Pope Benedict had demoted McCarrick. Ignoring the warning, Pope Francis chose to promote and insulate McCarrick, leaving the inescapable conclusion that the current Pope’s resignation is the only acceptable beginning of both the legal and spiritual remedies.
The bigger picture, however, is that the Church needs a change that will exert energy about God’s law and the core, natural human institution, the family. Pope Francis is compromised, and does not have the credibility to lead in this reform and transition.
Like a past, strong, and credible CEO coming out of retirement to salvage the reputation of the entity, Pope Benedict is the natural replacement for Pope Francis during a period of transition.
Changing the head of the Catholic Church is far from the only steps that need to be taken. If the remedy is left to the current hierarchy within the Church, no credible, meaningful, and lasting reforms will be undertaken or, if enacted, won’t succeed. The “deep state,” so to speak, within the Catholic Church is insulated and will fight to preserve itself at the expense of curing the homosexual sex abuse that has incubated within the Church under the current hierarchy.
Reform led by the Catholic laity — those who do not have vested interests in preserving the rot that has infected the Church — is what’s needed. Investigations must be instituted under the supervision and with the participation of serious Catholics who are not part of the institutional hierarchy. Outsiders need to check the temptations of insiders to manipulate the findings.
This is not a call to “democratize” the Catholic Church. Like other large institutions whose beneficent missions have been corrupted, the problem is not with the mission, but the frailty of human character within the leadership, or at least parts of the leadership.
When institutions violate the internal laws that govern their operations, the concept of “visitation” may be used to cure those errors. Historically, the Pope was the “visitor” with the authority to fix any internal malfunctions of the Church. Given that Pope Francis has conflicts that preclude him from acting as a credible visitor, he must step down.
Pope Benedict, as a replacement “CEO,” should appoint committees led by laity members of the Church for this exercise in visitation. This visitation must include detailed investigations to determine the real causes of the sex-abuse scandals, from which reforms may be instituted to save the Church.
But we the laity of the Catholic Church must provide the leadership in calls for such action, otherwise the “deep state” within the Catholic Church, with its incentives to cover-up the sex abuse scandal, will proceed unchecked. We must make those calls in petitions, with communications with our parish priests, writing op/eds, using social media, etc.
There are models for this form of leadership in the face of institutionalized corruption of a mission. In 1976, Ronald Reagan was running against the Ford-Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party. He said we needed new leadership — leadership unfettered by old ties and old relationships.
As with so many things in life, we who are part of institutions that are supposed to operate for greater purposes must be the leaders to preserve the integrity of those institutions. Therefore please consider signing this petition for Pope Francis to resign, and for Pope Benedict to come out of retirement. And please forward the petition to all Catholics you know – family, friends, fellow parishioners.