Francis: Another Mediocre Novelty?


That’s Dougherty’s concern – and the possibility that Francis was actually the candidate of the old guard in the Curia:

A contentious reading of Pope Francis’ rise is that Benedict’s enemies have triumphed completely. It is unusual for a one-time rival in a previous election to triumph in a future one. And there is almost no path to Bergoglio’s election without support from curial Italians, combined with a Latin American bloc. Low-level conspiracy theories already flourish in Italy that Benedict’s resignation was the result of a curia determined to undermine his reforms. This election will only intensify that speculation. An older pope who does not know which curial offices and officers need the ax, will be even easier to ignore than Benedict.

The more I read about his role during the dirty war of the 1970s, the queasier I get. This is not an encouraging detail about a priest under Bergoglio’s authority who was convicted of seven homicides and 40 torture sessions:

Father von Wernich was allowed to continue to celebrate Mass in prison, and in 2010, a church official said that “at the appropriate time, von Wernich’s situation will have to be resolved in accordance with canonical law.” But Cardinal Bergoglio never issued a formal apology on behalf of the church, or commented directly on the case, and during his tenure the bishops’ conference was similarly silent.

Only in November 2012, a year after Cardinal Bergoglio had stepped down as head of the bishops’ conference, did the group address the issue of its role during the dictatorship.

We need a Pope unafraid of airing the dirtiest of laundry. But if Bergoglio kept silent in the face of government assassins and torturers, and didn’t de-frock a torturer-murderer priest, why would he be vigilant about child rape? This line from Dougherty struck a chord about the current turbulence:

Benedict’s papacy, which focused on “continuity,” seems like the exception to an epoch of stunning and unsettling change, which—as we know—usually heralds collapse.

(Painting: St Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus, by Caravaggio.)