Tense listening sessions in the archdiocese on the clergy sex abuse crisis continued, as Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone met with several dozen Catholics at St. Mary’s Cathedral Oct. 17 and St. Stephen Church Oct. 18.
During the question and answer section that followed Archbishop Cordileone’s remarks, people brought forward their concerns and comments about the state of the church.
On Aug. 25, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former papal nuncio to the U.S., alleged in an incendiary 11-page letter that the Vatican, including Pope Francis, knew about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s abusive behavior and called on all involved in covering up his behavior to resign. In a letter dated Aug. 29, Archbishop Cordileone said that while he had no knowledge regarding the McCarrick affair, he could testify to Vigano’s good character, and said his statements “must be taken seriously.”
Some at the St. Matthew session believed Archbishop Cordileone supported Archbishop Vigano’s call for Pope Francis to resign. Archbishop Cordileone said the former nuncio’s allegations about corruption in the church should be distinguished from character judgments and the call for a papal resignation.
“I was not saying that we should take seriously that Pope Francis should resign. I’m not in favor of him resigning. I’m in favor of getting to the bottom of whatever was going on with the McCarrick incident,” he said.
Archbishop Cordileone was asked at St. Stephen if he still considered Archbishop Vigano “a man of integrity” after Cardinal Ouellet’s letter.
The archbishop said the former nuncio had supported him “to the point of sacrifice” during his first years in San Francisco.
“One could question the prudence of what he did, but I do believe he was motivated out of a concern to expose what he perceived to be problems in the church that he couldn’t get addressed otherwise,” he said.
Sexuality and women’s role in the church were also discussed at the sessions. A Star of the Sea parishioner told the archbishop he was shocked by the lack of discussion around sexually active homosexual priests, which he said was “the main problem.”
“Will you let us know that you are working to rid the church of homosexual predator priests?” he asked at the cathedral session.
Archbishop Cordileone replied that according to the John Jay Report, which was commissioned to discover the causes of the sex abuse crisis, abuse was “not an issue of priests with a clear self-identity as homosexual, but priests who did not yet have a clear sexual identity and had easier access to boys than girls.”
Following a discussion where Archbishop Cordileone said that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” were ineligible for ordination to the priesthood, a speaker said the archbishop’s statement contradicted many people’s experience in the archdiocese of “so many wonderful gay priests that are holy men.”
“It’s a question of how (homosexuality) affects them,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “It’s not a black-and-white issue.”
Many speakers said that sharing power with women would have eliminated many of the issues facing the church today, from the sexual abuse crisis to the loss of faith among young adults. Speakers told the archbishop the church needs to open itself to ordaining women and allowing married priests. A woman religious at St. Mary’s told the archbishop that “a culture of secrecy gives rise to the crisis we are in,” and proposed a “radical reconstitution” of ecclesial power structures that would include “female and male, clergy and lay.”
A parishioner from St. Dominic said laity should be able to provide input on the selection of bishops. “If the Chinese government can pick bishops, Rome should be amenable to giving fellow Catholics some say in the process,” he said.
Full story at Catholic San Francisco.