“Ask a Priest: How Should I Speak About the Archbishop Viganò Case?”

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Q: I’m concerned and struggling. I do not watch mainstream news, but I follow certain Catholic-oriented and TradCat sites on Internet and Facebook for the latest news and updates regarding Archbishop Viganò’s letters and the Vatican response. I speak to my husband and my mother regarding the situation, I try to be cautious about what I say so as to not sin against clergy, per the Blessed Mother’s request; but after I’ve shared any info I feel as if I have committed a grievous sin! Can you offer me any guidance on what constitutes sins against clergy in this particular situation? I don’t believe in burying my head in the sand as my sisters do. I want to know what is going on, but I do not want my curiosity to be an occasion of sin. – J.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Thanks for your note and for your obvious concern for the Church.

It’s a sad state when the divisions in the Church are so high-level and so public. Behind all this is the devil, who is anxious to stir up disunity among the faithful.

It is understandable if people are talking about the items that pop up in the news.

A key element needed in these conversations is charity. This includes the virtue of justice, which means that we refrain from judging or condemning anyone.

For the moment the surest thing we can say is that Archbishop Carlo Viganò, a past apostolic nuncio to the U.S., made some accusations and the Holy See has basically denied them. Here, a principle from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is helpful: A person should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Perhaps there will be no “trial” and no definitive conclusions reached. We might just be left with conflicting accounts about what happened. If that is the case, it would be good to refrain from making any judging or at least not sharing those judgments with others.

None of this means, however, that we have to stick our heads in the ground. The Church still needs purification.

Maybe the positive route is for all of us to intensify our prayers for the Church and to discuss ways that we can help the clergy and hierarchy, all with an eye toward safeguarding the vulnerable among us. This could take many forms: adoration for vocations; fasting; and opportune and respectful suggestions to the right people.

Some of the problems we see today have been brewing for decades, if not centuries. Reform will take a while. But it is something we can begin today, with our own striving for holiness.

An extra suggestion: To guard your own spirit of peace, you might want to try to get your news from balanced and civil outlets. Sources that pour fuel on the fires raging ’round won’t bring much calm to your heart. The Spirit prefers to speak in “a light silent sound” (1 Kings 19:12). Also, you might find it useful to read my colleague’s blog post about the recent scandals: https://rcspirituality.org/weekly_email/a-response-to-disaster-weekly-message-for-09-11-2018/

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