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April 22, 2010

Group replaces contoversial cardinal for D.C. Mass

A Roman Catholic group is seeking another bishop to celebrate a special Mass at the nation's largest Catholic church after advocates for abuse victims objected to a retired Vatican cardinal, the Associated Press reports.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos had been scheduled to celebrate the Latin Mass on Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is in honor of the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's inauguration.

The Paulus Institute agreed Wednesday to find a replacement after the victims' group objected to Castrillon Hoyos. The now-retired cardinal wrote a letter in 2001 congratulating a French bishop for shielding a priest who was convicted of raping minors. At the time, Castrillon Hoyos headed the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, which is in charge of priests throughout the world.

The Paulus Institute says it stands with sexual abuse victims but it is not taking a position on the cardinal's conduct.

Castrillon Hoyos, 80, told an audience at a Catholic university in Murcia, Spain, last week that Pope John Paul II saw the letter and authorized him to send it to bishops worldwide.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said it faxed letters Tuesday to Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl and to the pope's representative in Washington, asking them to intervene to stop Castrillon Hoyos from celebrating the Mass.

"This cardinal's letter may be the single most hurtful thing we've seen written in the last decade," said David Clohessy, executive director of the survivors' group, known as SNAP.

Before the invitation to Castillon Hoyos was rescinded, Clohessy said that allowing him to celebrate the Mass "rubs salt into the already deep and fresh wounds."

"We believe it's crucial that church officials create a climate that encourages victims and witnesses and whistle-blowers to expose predators. And when wrongdoers are honored, it creates the opposite climate," he said.

The archdiocese said SNAP should take the issue up with the Paulus Institute, a group that promotes the Catholic liturgy and is organizing the Mass. The institute didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

But SNAP said it had not contacted the institute and believed church officials should intervene. Clohessy maintained that an archbishop can stop any priest from functioning in his territory.

Asked whether Wuerl had such authority, archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said: "A cardinal in the church normally can celebrate Mass in a diocese."

Castrillon Hoyos' 2001 letter praised Bishop Pierre Pican, who received a three-month suspended prison sentence for concealing knowledge about the clergyman, the Rev. Rene Bissey. The priest himself was sentenced to 18 years for sexually abusing 11 minors.

It's not the only example of the cardinal apparently taking the side of a priest accused of abuse. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that when Bishop Manuel Moreno of Tucson, Ariz., tried to defrock Monsignor Robert Trupia in the 1990s, Castrillon Hoyos also stood in the way.

When Trupia was confronted with an allegation of sexually abusing a boy, Moreno said Trupia "expressed relief that 'this was the only case that had been brought to my attention,'" according to internal church documents obtained by AP.

Trupia wanted to be allowed to retire in good standing rather than be defrocked. Moreno refused.

But in an Oct. 31, 1997 letter to Moreno, Castrillon Hoyos wrote that the Congregation for the Clergy had ruled in favor of Trupia, saying the punishments of the priest "seem to be without canonical basis."

Trupia was eventually defrocked in August 2004, 12 years after Moreno first suspended him.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 10:03 AM | | Comments (2)


I happened to watch the whole liturgy on EWTN, I suppose being rebroadcast quite late at night. I usually can't make it through one of these presentations, but the music was good and we had had a late dinner. I can't sleep right away on a full stomach so I watched the whole thing. The news is this. Given the fact that they had to cancel the Cardinal because of the abuse crisis, and that every day brings more problems for them, the Bishop who said the Mass gave a truly outrageous sermon. I don't know whether to attribute it to simple shamelessness, or total moral coarseness masquerading as the opposite, but it was grim. He spoke of the great sufferings of the Pope, and only mentioned the victims quickly at the end of a breath. They are beginning to display a kind of aggressive solipsism which one identifies more with besieged cults. It is a tragedy. And for the world it is a danger. There are simply too many Catholics in the world for this to be ignored as simple craziness.

This sense is only augmented by the appearance on EWTN the other night of Phillip Lawler who wrote a book about the beginning of the crisis in Boston. He was more reasonable- sounding than many who have appeared on The World Over Show, for instance the head of the Acton Institute. Lawler said some things that could be construed as generically anti-gay in terms of the make-up of the priesthood. But he called again and again for Bishops in the US to resign. Strangely though, for such an insightful guy, he did not seem to grasp why they do resign in Europe and not here. It requires the simple logic of cultural analysis to get it. Europe may be less "religious" than the USA, but the old- line Churches are more involved with the state there. Therefore they have to behave as good citizens ---or you're out. No question, in the logic of their arrangement. Here the Catholic Church is ironically benefitting from the distance of Church involvement in the State. There is in fact is still so much separation that a de facto ambit of de facto "slack-cutting" is given them. Not by a de jure decision on anyone's part, but by the fact that the public is quite distant from the Church as a matter polity. This is so even if the public is more "religious" that those in Europe. But this also means that these same Bishops who are constantly trying to bring their vision of morality into governmental action, are in fact beholden to the very lack of it for their continued position. It really is a great irony and shows what dim bulbs a lot of the prelates are that they don't grasp it. Lawler essentially prescribed their ouster as the precondition for anything good happening. One should note, that a correlative point for what Lawler prescribes is that until they do go, they ought to at least have the good grace and manners to cordially shut their mouths. It is clear by the lights of Lawler's analysis, which I remind the reader was broadcast from the Pope John Paul Center in DC, that these Bishops should keep a respectful silence towards the free society which, as I said, is the only reason why they are still in their positions and not consigned to a life of penance in a South Carolina monastery!

Lastly, it is worth noting that Lawler intoned in a rather oracular manner, that "the other shoe would drop" soon, and that the scandal would spread to the "mission territories" which I suppose was his rather Victorian way of saying Africa, or maybe Latin America and Asia. Lawler is clearly better informed on the Church scuttlebutt than most, so we can assume that their bewildering moral void has only just begun. I thank my lucky stars that I did not remain in the Church! LIFE IS GOOD.

"The situation is similar to when Coca-Cola once tried to change it's image, abandoned the Old Coke, and offered New Coke.Sales plunged. So they re-introduced the Old Coke as Classic Coke and their sales revived. I think the same thing will be proved true about the Mass. I'm just helping to play a small part in that - to re-introduce the Old Mass to help bring people back to the Church. What's at stake here is not just a nice Rite."

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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