Pope Francis coughs, Cardinal Cupich gets a cold: One of a series

The pope kiboshed the meeting of bishops trying to do something about the clergy sex abuse crisis, gutting the agenda as the bishops were about to vote and leaving them wondering what the hell is going on.

Not all, however:

“It is clear that the Holy See is taking seriously the abuse crisis in the church, seeing it as a watershed moment not just for the church in this country but around the world in putting so much emphasis on the February meeting,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago and a close ally of Pope Francis.

Joined at the hip, actually. (Francis had told the bishops they should hold off until February at the Vatican, where he has a record of controlling agendas and censoring final documents.)

More from Chicago’s archbishop:

Immediately after the announcement, Cardinal Cupich stood up to suggest that the bishops follow the order but schedule a meeting in March to vote on overhauls, moving as soon as possible after the Vatican meeting.

“We need to act soon, without delay,” Cardinal Cupich said.

Soon, without delay. Said with a straight face, immediately after action was delayed from above.

The head bishop tried to explain:

Cardinal [Daniel] DiNardo [of Houston] said the letter from the Vatican noted “some points in one or two of the documents where the canon law needed further precisions.” The letter was sent by the Congregation for Bishops, which oversees all the bishops globally and which includes two American members: Cardinals Cupich and Wuerl, who remains a cardinal despite stepping down as Washington archbishop.

Cupich, positioned at the heart of the matter, has cause to paint a rosy picture.

Another bishop was one of the many harboring and expressing negative thoughts, a Chicagoan born and bred serving now downstate:

The Vatican “doesn’t seem to appreciate the depth of the situation that we are facing here on the streets,” said Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Ill. “People are looking for us to do something. I think this will unfortunately be seen as a delay and an inadequate response.”

Now why would he say that?

But leave it to a layman to provide a pithy frank and earnest, comment.

He is incidentally a member of the Catholic hoi polloi, also known from Vatican 2 days as “the people of God,” but in this case characterized somewhat differently by the pope’s ambassador, who reminded the bishops that lay people’s “assistance is both welcome and necessary,” and their “collaboration . . . is essential,” but “the responsibility as bishops of this Catholic Church is ours.” Pow.

The layman:

“Francis’ record on sex abuse is frankly indefensible,” said Christopher Hale, who helped lead Catholic outreach for President Obama and has been an outspoken supporter of Pope Francis. “Today just continues down this sad road of not getting it and not responding correctly.”

Francis better beware. Even liberals have his number.

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