Saturday Links 1/2/21

I enjoyed scrolling through all these images of Catholic churches done in a “brutalist” style, collected and explained by Catholic architect Jason John Paul Haskins. Brutalism is not necessarily the most popular sort of church architecture, but it is interesting, and it has something unique to say. Haskins explains:

The thing is, I genuinely find many of these church buildings to be sacred, inspiring, beautiful, moving, rich, worthy… And not in simply an academic or historical study; in my time in my own experience, outside considerations of their original context or the intent of their commissioners, architects, and builders. And this is especially true when I participate in their completion in worship.

If nothing else, take a quick scroll through all the pictures.


This, from Massimo Faggioli in Commonweal, is a fun and interesting look at the papacy through the lens of The Crown, which many of us binge-watched this year. The papacy is, after all, a monarchy, so similarities and parallels abound. Faggioli:

Francis has in a way upended things; more than his predecessors, he has chosen to lower the shield that ritual provides, revealing himself and the person he really is. This has injected unpredictability into the operations of the Vatican—which prizes predictability—making some of its courtiers nervous, but allowing others to thrive. In The Crown, we see this unpredictability in Diana, who as “the people’s princess” creates a kind of upheaval similar to what Francis has done in denouncing the clericalism of his brother bishops and casting himself more as part of the people of God than of the Curia. 

I didn’t expect to see Pope Francis and Princess Di mentioned in the same breath, but we are in the hopeful new year of 2021, so—let’s go! Here’s the link again if you’re interested.


I’m not sure what to make of this article from The Seattle Times, about ongoing demands for more transparency and accountability regarding the clergy’s complicity in the sex abuse crisis here in Western Washington.

Members of Heal Our Church, a Seattle-based alliance of practicing Catholics who seek a public review of how the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide sexual abuse scandal secretly festered within the parishes of Western Washington, contend they’re being stonewalled by Archbishop Paul Etienne.

Heal Our Church has been seeking a meeting with the archbishop since January of last year, but of course, the coronavirus seems like an obvious mitigating circumstance. And a major, lay-led review of all this, as the article acknowledges, has already been done. But frankly, little of the hierarchy’s behavior in this matter makes me want to extend much benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, I was surprised to see the McCarrick Report mentioned at the end of the article as an example of the clergy “circling the wagons”, rather than as an unprecedented act of transparency. It seems to me that something like the McCarrick report is exactly what Heal Our Church is asking for?

Regardless, the hierarchy certainly deserves all the suspicion and scorn it receives from the media, the public, and the faithful in this matter. That and then some.

The entire article is here.

The Archdiocese of Seattle published a list of credibly accused clergy and religious, which you can find here. All have either died, been laicized, or assigned to “private prayer and penance”.

Saturday Links 11/14/20

A survivor of sex abuse, who wished to remain anonymous, background right, plays violin after he delivered his testimony during a penitential liturgy attended by Pope Francis at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Credit: Vincenzo Pinto (AP)

Today I’m going to post some links regarding a difficult topic, namely, the ongoing issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

It was the pre-eminent topic in Catholic media this week, because on Tuesday the Vatican released the full, 449-page report of its investigation into “the knowledge and decision-making related to former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick”.

The good news is that this is a level of transparency that’s unprecedented for any institution. It demonstrates a commitment to shining a light on the clerical culture that has overlooked and enabled the sexual abuse of children and adults for God knows how long. This is an essential step forward.

The bad news is that the report shows that knowledge of McCarrick’s sexual abuse of young priests, seminarians, and minors swirled around him for decades, but this did not stop him from being promoted as bishop, archbishop, and finally cardinal. And it appears that Pope John Paul II—recently canonized as a saint!—was aware of this, dismissed it all as libel, and promoted him anyway.

It wasn’t until Pope Francis heard a credible allegation of McCarrick’s sexual abuse of a child that McCarrick suffered any real consequences for his actions. Francis dismissed McCarrick from the clerical state—the most severe punishment available, I think—and sentenced him to live out the rest of his days in prayer and penance hidden from public view.

It’s difficult for me to talk about this as a new Catholic since I have to admit it doesn’t pack the same emotional weight for me as it does for those who have been in the Church a long time. And I certainly don’t feel it the way a survivor of sexual abuse does. But it would be a failure of solidarity not to talk about this issue.

So, here’s some links that I found helpful.

America Magazine has a good video about the whole affair here:

Liz Bruenig (NYT) writes a good summary of what happened and talks a bit about how men like McCarrick took advantage of the Catholic instinct to trust:

Mr. McCarrick must have known he could rely on that Catholic instinct to trust — to have faith, in other words. “It’s not, oh my gosh, how did he rise up in spite of it?” Ms. Cummings told me. “It’s almost — it’s because of it.” His ascent and his alleged abuse seem to have been entwined: The same understanding of the faith and comfort with its adherents that seem to have made him a cunning predator also gave rise to his special facility with fund-raising and dazzled his complacent superiors.

Mary Pezzulo gives John Paul II both barrels:

I’ve been publicly criticized for saying that it was wrong to rush through John Paul the Second’s canonization, and for saying his feast day ought to be struck from the calendar. But I’m saying it again. It’s grossly wrong and a slap in the face to everyone who has been abused. John Paul the Second was not a great or a good man. Admitting this would be another step towards healing the Church, though it’s not enough. The resignation of just about everybody in the hierarchy might be a nice gesture as well, though it’s not enough.

Finally, Where Peter Is shares the stories of the survivors here:

Be warned—the accounts shared in the McCarrick Report are traumatic and triggering. Their stories speak for themselves, so I tried not to summarize or provide too much of my own commentary. I hope that we can sit and take some time with their stories, allowing them to enter our hearts and listen to their voices in solidarity, grieving, and prayer.