During today’s general audience, Pope Francis paused before beginning his weekly catechesis in order to ask forgiveness for unspecified recent “scandals” originating in Rome and in the Vatican.
“Jesus is realistic and it is inevitable that scandals occur,” said the pope, before attending to his prepared remarks, “but woe to the person who causes scandal. Before I start this catechesis, I’d like to ask you for forgiveness, in the name of the church, for the scandals that have occurred both in Rome and in the Vatican in recent times.”
On his personal blog, veteran journalist, author and Vaticanista John Thavis ruminates as to what, precisely, Pope Francis might be referencing:
The problem in interpreting his remarks was that there are several scandals to choose from. The gay official of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation who recently came out with his partner, saying the climate at his workplace was homophobic? Accusations of sexual impropriety made by a group of Catholics against priests and an official of the Carmelite religious order in Rome? The resignation of Rome’s leftist mayor, Ignazio Marino, following press reports that the pope was unhappy with the mayor’s action on a number of issues? The accusations of sexual abuse against a Vatican diplomat, who was found dead in his Vatican residence in late August before he could stand trial? Or this week’s leak of a “Letter of 13” cardinals to the pope, contesting the direction and methods of the current Synod of Bishops on the Family, which was followed by a series of confusing denials and clarifications?
Thavis’ whole piece is worth reading, particularly in light of the “leak” of a private letter directed to the Holy Father, and expressing concerns about the synodal process and the working document upon which those processes are based.
Signed by 13 (or 9, or 13) of the Church leaders currently working within the Ordinary Synod of the Family, the letter — and its leak — demonstrates plainly that the synod fathers are working under numerous distractions, and that a climate of unrest and intrigue may currently exist within the Vatican.
Thavis suggests that such a climate has (and can) do serious harm to the credibility of a pope and a papacy.