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October 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The following translation stems from a longer article written in German by Christian Geyer and published on 7 October 2018 in the prominent German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. LifeSiteNews presents to our readers excerpts from this article which gives English-speaking readers an idea how Pope Francis' silence with regard to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò's allegations is perceived, and how it affects the German bishops in their own conduct in light of their own ongoing sex abuse crisis. 

The article, titled “The Church is silent from the head down,” suggests that the bishops now imitate their Pope.

The translation below was kindly provided by Alexandra Moore.


We still just have to wait. Eventually, every question gets settled, even by way of a non-handling of sorts—through hushing-up on the one hand, and resignation on the other. So, one question is: what did the Pope know, and when did he know it? Did he, or did he not, shelter sex abusers, and even promote them—not only in the past, as archbishop of Buenos Aires (where currently it’s particularly women there who are reproaching him for this), but also after he was elected Pope? And yes, even still, when in recent weeks, at an “in-air press conference” above the clouds, some piercing questions were evaded, in an attempt to continue the cover up of all cover-ups.

This ongoing, unanswered question wears thin. Most recently, it has been justified once again in the allegations made by Carlos Maria Viganò who was the Apostolic Nuncio in the U.S. from 2011 to 2016 and who, on 25 August, put a dossier into circulation […] which turns the papal rallying cry of “No Tolerance” into nothing more than hypocrisy. The dossier asserts that the Pope has instead fostered clerical sex offenders, in particular Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who abused minors, and was also known to sexually exploit seminarians, dependent upon him for their careers.

The important questions go unanswered…

Did Francis, or did he not—cancel the sanctions of the previous Pope [Benedict XVI] against McCarrick, which were known primarily since 2013, and turn him instead into an influential figure of the pontificate? Is there a common papal pattern going on here when it comes to sexual misdeeds of standing clerics? Are they only pulled from circulation once there is no longer any other choice due to the media's demanding of action? That would mean that the Pope simply depends upon delays and his sitting things out. Indeed, this continued ignoring of the question threatens to put the question itself into jeopardy! […]

So, questions fall silent, peter out. This, also occurs just because other questions surface, causing the unanswered, left-behind question to exit from the line of fire. It gets plowed under the “general consensus” machine, which makes all questions equally important (and therefore unimportant). This of course, raises serious doubts as to the concepts of truth and knowledge. […]

German bishops follow the [papal] example…

Wouldn’t this insistence on upholding the secretum pontificium [in the case of Archbishop Viganò] just then be synonymous with canon law's safeguarding the cover-up? Viganò recently justified himself regarding his breach of secrecy in a new communication put out on various internet platforms over the weekend. In it, he points out, “the purpose of such a confidentiality clause” cannot possibly, not even one little bit – consist in “covering up crimes or allowing the participation in them.” The silence of the shepherds, which has been identified worldwide as the cardinal problem of the ecclesiastical abuse, can now hardly be sold as an official duty.

Even Francis (“I am not saying a word.”) will not be able to use his higher insights and wisdom in order to back up his chosen silence, unless he wants to discredit the principle of personal responsibility in his Church and upset the credibility of his teaching authority, so to speak. Nevertheless, the elimination of unpleasant questions on the aforementioned “in-flight press conferences,” most recently on his way back from the Baltic States follows this pattern. Questions regarding Viganò were initially deferred (“First the questions about the trip.”) and then they no longer came into play. (“I was told that dinner is now ready and that the flight is short.”).

It is no wonder, though disgusting, that the German bishops have sensed a need to follow the example of their Pope and made sure that the naming of personal responsibilities – on behalf of Bishops or even just from concrete dioceses – just wasn’t part of the overall design of their [recently published] investigative study on abuse. At a press conference last week in Fulda, everyone held his breath for a moment when journalist Christine Florin posed the following question [to the German bishops]: “Here we have more than 60 bishops gathered together. Is there one or two of you who in the course of your deliberations has said: 'I have so much personal guilt on me, that I can no longer carry the responsibility of this office anymore?'” Only when Reinhard Cardinal Marx [the President of the German Bishops' Conference], after a short pause, replied with a terse, but loud “No,” could all of those present breathe freely again.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.