18 November 2020, The Tablet

McCarrick: sex, lies and the Church

McCarrick: sex, lies and the Church

Maurizio Cattelan’s La Nona Ora (‘The Ninth Hour’)
Photo: Fred Romero


The investigation into the disgraced former cardinal has led to the finger of blame being pointed at Pope John Paul II and his closest advisers. But the author of a best-selling exposé of the culture of cover-up at the Vatican argues that the scandal was the result of hypocrisy about sexuality

Pope John Paul II lies sprawling across a ceremonial red carpet, still clutching his ceremonial papal cross, struck down by a meteorite. As the sculptor Maurizio Cattelan explained, La Nona Ora (“The Ninth Hour”), first exhibited in 1999, represents the Holy Father crushed by the sins of the world. It’s an image that has been haunting me this week, as a series of dramatic events has raised questions about the judgement of Pope John Paul II, and threatened to sour the legacy of his papacy.
Two weeks ago, Polish television channel TVN24 broadcast Don Stanislao: The Other Face of Cardinal Dziwisz, a documentary by Marcin Gutowski. It aroused immense ­emotion across the country. Karol Wojtyla had appointed Stanislaw Dziwisz as his private secretary in October 1966, when he was Archbishop of Kraków; Dziwisz and Wojtyla travelled together to the papal conclaves of August and October 1978; and Dziwisz served as John Paul’s private secretary throughout his 27-year pontificate. He was created a ­cardinal in 2006.

In Gutowski’s documentary, Dziwisz is denounced for having helped cover up several cases of sexual abuse throughout the world. It alleges that Dziwisz had full knowledge of the appalling child sex abuse offences committed by Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the Legion of Christ, yet failed to act. Millions of Poles have been scandalised by these revelations, which also cast a dark shadow on the character and judgement of “their” Pope, a national saint.

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