If the US Bishops Don’t Fear God, They Should Fear the Government


We learned something important in the past week: Pope Francis has no intention of coming clean.

Like the short tale of Hans Christian Andersen, in the past week since Archbishop Vigano’s letter was made public, Pope Francis supporters and the media have attempted to sell the Catholic faithful a pair of “New clothes”: they’ve tried to sell us on the idea that Pope Francis is innocent of the charges leveled against him because a) Vigano’s motivations and character are malevolent, and b) only people who already hate Pope Francis could believe him to be guilty of any crime.

And just like the The Emperor’s New Clothes, it should be obvious even to a small child that the pope’s defense is a naked one.

Consider: millions of Catholic faithful around the world are genuinely, deeply concerned that the pope (the pope!) may have knowingly rehabilitated and brought into his inner circle a man he knew to be guilty of sexually abusing young men less than half his age and how did the pope respond?

“I will not say a word about this.”

One week later, and he has still not said a word. His inner circle of dozens of cardinals have also not said a word, refusing to pick up the phone or speak to the press.

Instead the pope tells us the emergency of this hour is “plastics in the oceans.”

People are losing their faith over the pope’s refusal to speak or act.

It’s hard to imagine a more extreme act of pastoral negligence, but in these dark times, I don’t want to further tempt fate.

Those accused of these evil deeds, when they do speak, utter incoherence. Cardinal Cupich’s gaff that pursuing this scandal would be to “go down a rabbit hole” was quickly outdone by his desperate attempt to change the narrative by having every single one of his priests talk about it in their homilies. (What’s the pastoral topic closest to Cupich’s heart this Sunday? Cupich’s public image, of course!)

Now, if you can, try watching this eight minute ramble of Cardinal Wuerl.

It’s almost impossible to get through it. These are the ramblings of a guilty man. The incessant use of the word “we”. The inability to use the personal pronoun “I”. The sheer hypocrisy and outright blasphemy of invoking the words “Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free”, twice.

These men must not fear hell.

There is some ironic tragedy that Pope Francis’ own inscrutable decisions have prevented him from putting Wuerl out of his misery. Any decent pope would have immediately relieved Wuerl of his duties the day the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was released.

Now, instead, we are witnesses to a spectacle of a near-spiritually-dead cardinal archbishop skulk from one overtly-orchestrated, PR-managed, extra-security on-site, “pastoral” function to the next. An eerie performance not at all unlike the Cadaver Synod of 897.

Last week I thought the Church was entering its worse crisis since the protestant reformation. Now I think it’s even worse than that. The protestant reformation was an external revolt at the excesses and extravagance (and yes, sinfulness) of the church; in this moment we are witnessing an internal crisis of the very highest levels of the church turning it into their personal organized crime syndicate.

Benjamin Wiker describes the crisis in bold strokes:

The very men most authoritatively charged with the evangelization of all the nations are full-steam ahead bringing about the devangelization of the nations. In doing so, these priests, bishops, and cardinals at the very heart of the Catholic Church are acting as willing agents of repaganization, undoing 2,000 years of Church History.

To be even more pointed, these priests, bishops, and cardinals are the chief agents of devangelization, de-Christianization, repaganization. There is nothing, nothing, that undermines the moral and theological authority of the magisterium more quickly and thoroughly than the devilish marriage of scandal and hypocrisy. It destroys the ability to evangelize.

And note that I say both moral and theological. Why should anyone now take anything the magisterium has to say seriously, whether it’s the Church’s teachings about pedophilia and homosexuality, or its teachings on the Most Holy Trinity?

Is that massive, massive enough of a crisis for you, Cardinal Wuerl? Could you imagine it being any more massive?

If any of these men beginning with Wuerl, cared more about the Church than they did about themselves, they would all resign.

Where am I going with all this?

This week we learned the Roman Curia, its cardinals and pope, will not self-convict. They won’t even self-investigate. The rot is that deep. The cancer that progressed. Sandro Magister sheds a light on the gravity of the evil I think we are dealing with here, a slimy mix of greed, sex and deception. Battista Ricca’s prominent place in the pope’s household says it all.

This leaves few options.

Individual conferences of bishops will react depending on the scale of corruption they harbor. The central and Latin American church is still about 30 years behind the US Church in terms of outing its abusers, and it is not headed in the right direction. Europe is mostly moribund. Australia is faring a bit better, and this in no small part to accepting the external audit of the government (with the notable exception of preserving the seal of confession, which is correct). Africa is orthodox but in the current moment its best universal utility is as a hope for the future.

No, the only episcopacy that has a chance of righting the Barque of Peter now is the United States. And probably –and I stress this– they won’t do so willingly. That is because even though some bishops are trying to act forthrightly, as a body, the USCCB is hamstrung by conferences and committees.

So, it’s going to be painful.

I have come to the difficult conclusion, along with Hugh Hewitt and others, that a government-led investigation into the Catholic hierarchy is probably the only means at our disposal to be an example for the universal church for how to uproot this network of corruption inside our church and yes, to get priests and bishops to begin speaking out and turning each other in, following the trail back to the loggia of Rome. 49 more state attorney generals and the Attorney General using every means at their disposal to discover which bishops and cardinals have endangered children by moving predator priests, have orchestrated cover ups to protect abusive priests and bishops and cardinals and have individually and collectively preyed upon young men and seminarians. Open up the files. Follow the paper trail. Deposition. Subpoena. Jail.

If the guilty men flee to the Vatican and pull up the drawbridge pleading international diplomatic immunity, “sanctuary”, then they will in effect also be relying on the secular authorities –not the truth or their spiritual authority– to save their skin.

Now, I hope before that happens, the pressure of the threat that this is about to happen is enough to awaken the pope and cardinals from their silence, and if not them, the American bishops.

The US bishops know enough to force Rome’s hand. But they are moving too slowly. Too bureaucratically. The laity are fed up and need to see concrete actions taken now, not open-ended statements that patiently and pointlessly await a papal audience. The American bishops cannot wait for Pope Francis to make the first move.

Let’s not forget, the Old and New Testament are full of examples of pagan authorities sweeping away Israel when it failed to be faithful to God. The Catholic Church has been decimated in geographical areas for undeserved reasons, even in our own time. It could happen here, too. American bishops and priests who persist in this cover up give the secular authorities around us a real justification for investigating our sordid house.

Better to clean our own house before God allows someone else to do the job.

Time is of the essence. Act!

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author


Thomas Peters, 33, grew up in Southern California and attended college in Michigan. He has two graduate degrees in theology. He began his award-winning American Papist blog in 2006, which went on to become one of the most popular Catholic blogs in America. He was one of a handful of Americans invited to the Vatican’s first-ever Bloggers’ Meeting in Rome. Peters has appeared in dozens of TV, radio and online media outlets over the years discussing the intersection of Catholicism and political activism, debating topics related to life, family and religious freedom, in addition to writing and speaking about the future of social media and online organizing. From 2010-2016 he served as an advisor to CatholicVote.org. He and his wife Natalie live in Washington DC. You can follow him on Twitter @AmericanPapist.


  1. “We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.” –St. Catherine of Siena”

  2. Fortunately, Jesus left us a plan of action for just such a case…The Unjust Judge feared NEITHER God NOR Man…but the widow who kept nagging him for justice got results! This woman, who is a lighthearted figure of Jesus’ own mother, Mary, – she of the Magnificat – shows us the way to assault the powers that be. CONSTANT NAGGING FOR JUSTICE!!!

    my suggestion is to bring dead branches to the demonstration at the Bishop’s meeting in November, and make a bonfire. The Church is burning!

  3. The best commentary I have come across so far is by Austin Ruse in “Sometimes Caesar must act,” published Aug. 28 in The Stream. The piece is titled, “How Donald Trump Could Help the Catholic Church.”
    Austin says it seems many are not interested in knowing if there was a cover-up in the Vatican to protect Cardinal McCarrick. Trump can demand the documents. Ruse says Vatican offices must produce the McCarrick files for officials from the U. S. Departments of Justice and State.
    Quoting Ruse: “Sometime tomorrow Ambassador Callista Gingrich should march into the Vatican Secretariat of State in Rome. Then demand the release of all documents related to now-disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick … tell Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin that the Vatican has one week to answer. If the answer is no, or if they are reluctant to answer, she should give them one month to reconsider. Then inform them on that day, she and her staff will leave for the United States. They won’t return until the issue is settled.”


  4. I, too, don’t see any other recourse of action other than for the State to get involved. As Catholic laity, we must remember that the Church does not teach separation of Church and State as if these two spheres of authority were wholly isolated. Nor does the Church teach that Church is a subject of a larger Christian State or that the State is a subject of the Church. Rather, the Church and State are their own spheres of authority, with the Church being hierarchically higher than the State, but not withdrawn from the State’s reach.

    It is also important to remember that the issues at play are not religious issues, but fully within the realm of the natural law and within the competency of the State to regulate for a well-functioning society. The State is and can be an instrument of justice for these events.

    Asking for State investigations (RICO especially) can bring many hard things, and opens the door for suffering, but I only can see greater sufferings if what exists now continues to be perpetuated.

  5. Oh, Thomas, what a great article, I just recommended it to my husband. May I say it is delightful to see you, knowing you have endured so much pain and suffering, and, thanks be to God, there you are looking well and doing such important work. What an excellent photo, you look handsome and well, adorable.

    We should be asking for RICO investigations and state to state investigations, just as you said. Our church is a criminal organization and perhaps an international child sex trafficking organization for all we know. I’d like to know what all these homosexual clergy were doing when they fly off to far flung villages, among poor people who are rich with children but not material goods. In fact I remember a priest not long ago being outed doing just that, living in a village and corrupting the local boys with sex and goodies. How many thousands and thousands of little boys, adolescent boys, teenage boys, have these men used and sexually abused. Countless, God help them, countless. Two Chicago priests were just arrested in Florida, sitting in a car on a very busy and lovely street, one giving the other oral sex. The car windows were not tinted, and it was very near a park where children play. God help us. These are the perverts running our church. About that there is no longer any doubt, all the way up, disorder and homosexuality, calumny and subterfuge.

    The law is all we have in this world, and the law can get it done. Now, Wuerl needs to be charged, and hopefully that will happen. He’ll scuttle off to Rome and get cover of course.
    There is another prong and it should be talked about. Catholics need to use what we have to bring this church down, Mass attendance and the offertory. We need to abandon old ideas because they no longer apply. They can sodomize boys and get away with it because we have nothing to take away, so there are no consequences. They also have Resettlement Funds from the US government, that gives them millions to, as you rightly say, paganize Christendom! Look at Europe, nobody could argue that Islam has not all but taken over, and will officially in the not too distant future. A pope, has helped Islamize Christendom, and continues to work for it to this day!
    Come Lord Jesus, please help us in our hour of need. Amen.

  6. And when I say bring this church down, I mean the demonic sodomite apostate church Bergolio is running, not our Catholic church.

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