Correspondence from the CDF!

In relation to a critique of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith which I and some others have been working on for the past few months, and about which we will be going public later this week, I have had some communication, indirect as usual I’m afraid, from the CDF. The communication consisted in a copy of a booklet entitled ‘To promote and safeguard the Faith’, which is the CDF’s explanation of their existence and purpose. Reading through it I was struck by a passage from the part where they explained how they go about dealing with authors who have been accused of unorthodoxy. The passage is as follows:

“The internal phase starts with the prior investigation, undertaken in the offices of the Congregation, beginning with the appointment of two or more experts who have the competence to examine the writing, express their opinion on its merits, and determine if the text “conforms to the doctrine of the Church”. At the same time a relator is appointed on the author’s behalf who has the specific task of showing in a spirit of truth the positive aspects of his teaching and the merits of the author, of cooperating in the authentic interpretation of his thought within its overall theological context, and of expressing a judgment regarding the influence of the author’s opinions.”

In relation to my own case, this phase of the investigation had already happened before I knew that anything was afoot. So it was news to me that a ‘relator’ had actually been speaking on my behalf, and in my defence. I have no idea who this person was, and equally I presume he (definitely not a ‘she’!) had never met or spoken to me. And it didn’t seem to enter this person’s mind that it might be a good idea, if his job was to speak in my defence”in the spirit of truth”, that he might at the very least pick up the phone and talk to me. The whole idea is quite extraordinary. What really amazes me is that there are people in the Vatican who take on these type of roles without apparently asking themselves any question about the stupidity and sheer injustice of what they are involved in.
This does not concern just me. As the list of signatories to the document we are releasing in a few day shows, this is, and has been for centuries, the standard practice of the Church.
And, four years later and still out of ministry, I still wonder that so many bishops, and indeed religious superiors, can sleep easily in their beds when very blatant injustice and abuse is being perpetrated in the name of Christ. For instance, the Irish bishops have consistently washed their hands of it, saying that it is none of their business. And of course whatever part our Papal Nuncio has played in all this will never be known. He too disowns all responsibility!