Despair is not an option
During this season of Pentecost I find myself searching for hope in the midst of horrific stories about financial corruption by a West Virginia bishop, priests who raped and sexually abused my religious sisters, and bishops from eight states in the Northeast who spent over 10 million dollars lobbying against sex abuse victims.
I am outraged to learn that Baltimore Archbishop William Lori — who was delegated by the Vatican to investigate Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael Bransfield — had accepted over $10,500 in gifts from him. In his final report to Rome, Lori decided to delete his own name as well as those of ten other influential prelates who had also accepted financial gifts from the Wheeling bishop.
Bransfield bestowed his monetary gifts over ten years while young priest assistants were simultaneously complaining (to no avail) that he was sexually harassing them.
Lori told the Washington Post that if he had included the names of high-ranking churchmen (among whom were Cardinals Donald Wuerl, Timothy Dolan and Kevin Farrell) it could suggest that there were "expectations for reciprocity" but he had found "no evidence to suggest this."
After the Washington Post story, nine of the prelates involved, including Lori, pledged to return the money to the Wheeling-Charleston diocese.
Along with the still-unfinished scandal involving defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, it is difficult to ignore ever-mounting evidence that the clerical system governing the Catholic church is in a significant state of decay.