By Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
September 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The scandal of ex-Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual abuse of young priests and seminarians and Pope Francis’ alleged cover-up are “of a private order,” and a merely “administrative affair,” according to one of the Pope’s top advisers, Cardinal Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga. He made these remarks in a recent interview in one of the most revealing statements to date on the Viganò testimony.
In an interview published on Wednesday evening by Religion Digital, the religious portal of the Spanish-language news site Periodista Digital, Maradiaga once again strongly criticized Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò for having gone public about McCarrick’s sexual predations and the protection the Cardinal received from the highest spheres in the Vatican, especially since Pope Francis was elected to the See of Peter and trusted the American prelate to help him choose new cardinals for the Church in the USA.
Asked to comment about Viganò’s call on the Pope to resign, Maradiaga answered:
It does not seem correct to me to transform something that is of the private order into bombshell headlines exploding all over the world and whose shrapnel is hurting the faith of many. I think this case of an administrative nature should have been made public in accordance with more serene and objective criteria, not with the negative charge of deeply bitter expressions.
Coming from Maradiaga, the head of the “C9” Council of Cardinals commissioned to help reform the Church and also a close friend of Francis, as Religion Digital takes care to underscore, it is a statement in which every word counts. If homosexual activity on the part of a top member of the Church’s hierarchy such as McCarrick is a purely private matter that only needs to be managed at the administrative level, than it surely cannot be as bad as traditional believers are making out.
Misconduct of a private order – note that Maradiaga does not use the word “sin,” nor does he speak of priests’ grave obligation to live chastely as celibates – is something that should be taken care of outside the public eye, with at best confession and absolution and perhaps a private reprimand. Troubling the public order is what happens when crimes and lesser offences break criminal law as such. Only then do public authorities and representatives of the judiciary intervene to have the offender punished in the name of the public good.
The logic is quite clear: sexual abuse on minors, or at least adolescents who because of their age are not capable of agreeing to consensual relations is one thing, but having sexual relationships of whatever nature with adults is another, private matter. It is wrong, no doubt, but should not be made a fuss of and belongs to the internal forum. Where there is no penal crime, why should the Church see a transgression with dire consequences for its own Body?
Maradiaga’s minimizing of sexual misconduct, and of the perverting of seminarians and priests by a predator who is in a position of authority over them, is another sign that homosexual acts between consenting adults are in some circles no longer being regarded as a great evil that sullies the Church but as, at most, unfortunate falls comparable to other ordinary and widespread sins – disorders that a bit of paperwork will set right. It is another way of demanding silence.
Cardinal Maradiaga once more expressed his support for Francis, saying that he did not personally know what the Pope had done or not to take care of the situation, but insisting: “I believe that the Pope is a man of God always acts with faith and wisdom.”
In the same interview, Maradiaga was asked whether there is a “gay lobby” in the Vatican. His response was dismissive: “I get the impression that the notion of a gay lobby in the Vatican is out of proportion. It is something that exists much more in the ink of the newspapers than in reality. It’s obvious to me that the objective of all these poison-laded expressions and smears is to hurt the Holy Father. But if there is no faith, the actors of this media circus will not renounce their slandering.”
Asked whether adult homosexuals should be allowed to become priests, he went on to say that all the Bishops Conferences in the world are “very clear about the absolute and apodictic principles of the Church, those for instance that have been established in the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis” about the formation of priests. In its revised version in 2016, the Ratio Fundamentalis states that men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be accepted into the priesthood, but Maradiaga did not clarify this.
When asked who was “behind Viganò,” Maradiaga answered: “I do not know what or who, a person or persons can be behind Mons. Viganò, but it should be – as with every servant of Christ and of the Church – the charity of the Gospel, the love of the truth and the Holy Spirit.”
He also said that he was “greatly surprised” at having been quoted as a protector of McCarrick: “I consider that to be a gratuitous accusation. My best response is the facts, which is why I’m not concerned with defending myself as to what Mons. Carlo Maria Viganò has said.”
Religion Digital is the news source in which Maradiaga already attacked Edward Pentin at the end of August for having spread the Viganò testimony, calling himself “the victim of a hitman who practices media harrassment,” a laughable accusation to all those who know EWTN’s Vaticanist. He also said that Viganò had committed a “sin against the Holy Spirit.”
The Hispanic news source is also well known for its liberal standpoints and its eagerness to discredit conservative Catholics: the director of the religious platform of Religion Digital, José Manuel Vidal, is a former priest who at the time of Cardinal Ratzinger’s election as Pope Benedict complained about his being guilty of “destroying the idea of a more popular Church that would be faithful to the Gospel of the poor.” At that time, he also denounced Ratzinger’s work as a “Cerberus of the faith” who had helped the “Catholic right to set aside a whole innovative current in the pastoral, theological, catechetical and social areas,” in particular the tenets of Liberation Theology.
In September 2016, a conservative priest who up to then wrote a blog for Religion Digital – which prides itself on being the most widely read Spanish-speaking website on Catholic affairs – decided to step down, proclaiming that “Religion Digital was the website that had inflicted the most harm on the Catholic Church.” Father José Antonio Fortea, explaining that he had only stayed in order to reach out to people who need the chance to be in contact with something different from the site’s standpoints, decided to leave when José Manuel Vidal violently attacked the conservative Spanish bishop Munilla. He added that Religion Digital makes a big show of being faithful to the Pope while attacking the faith.