The papacy is in danger of being ‘delegitimised’ by intense media pressure centred on the issue of clerical sexual abuse, according to prominent Catholic theologian Massimo Faggioli.
Writing in LaCroix International, Faggioli summarises recent controversies affecting the last two popes as well as Pope Francis himself and argues that this creates an unprecedented situation in which media now no longer defer to the papacy, as in earlier eras, but readily report scandals and dramatise the papacy in fictionally lurid ways without restraint.
Among the recent ‘stories’ Faggioli lists are: the Polish publication of a book documenting mishandling of clerical abuse by Pope John Paul II when he was Archbishop of Kracow; the recent papal decision to open an inquiry into the disappearance in Rome in 1983 of teenager Emmanuela Orlandi following a Netflix documentary series; reports that implicate Pope Benedict XVI in that issue same issue of mishandling clerical abuse when Archbishop of Munich; and Pope Francis’s own ‘Damascus’ moment – his change of mind over the performance of Chilean bishops on that issue in 2018 – the year of the blistering attack on the pope by a right-wing critic on the day of his important homily at a concluding Mass for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.
“The abuse crisis has produced tectonic shifts, and Catholics – not just the bishops and the Vatican — are still struggling to find their footing,” writes Faggioli.
He is also critical of the recent tendency to find reason to canonise popes too soon after their reigns have ended:
“Clearly, the policy of the popes of late 20th and 21st centuries to canonize their immediate predecessors on the Chair of Peter is worse than ineffective. It is actually counter-effective because it gives the impression of a pre-emptive defence of the papacy and is an impediment to an understanding of their sainthood that is not pure apologetics.”
To read the complete article in LaCroix, click here.