(Ecclesiastical) Death Comes For The Archbishop

CNS put this one at the bottom of today’s list. Just when you might have thought the sacred universe revolved around someplace in the US…

I looked up Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo on the Catholic Hierarchy site. Ordained a bishop at age 41. At the helm of the metropolitan see of Bangui for less than six years. Did all of his priests’ ladyfriends and children just appear since 2003? Or perhaps there’s something else at work in this African church. His predecessor, Joachim N’Dayen, was elevated at age 33 (in 1968) and held office for as many years, excluding time spent as co-adjutor archbishop.

Or perhaps something else is at work in Rome. This item from the secular outlet Africa News presents another side to this. It quoted a letter from Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect for Peoples Evangelization Congregation, to CAR priests:

(M)any bad things have been done to the body of Christ through poor and scandalous comportments.

It is pointless to deny what every body knows. There is no need judging the motives and circumstances of the evil that has been committed. Members of the national clergy, diocesans and religious, you are, in one way or the other, accomplice of the current situation, but each of you shall assume his own culpability proportionally to his own responsibility.

Yikes. Pretty strong words for a letter to clergy published in Le Confident, a Bangui daily. More from Africa News:

Another local daily called L’Hirondelle of 23 May reported that it is in connection with the affair that Rome refused to give to the Central African Church, during the last papal visit in Cameroon, the Instrumentum Laboris – a basic document for the next African synod that each country is supposed to have. L’Hirondelle continued that since then a vast readjustment process has been launched by Vatican.

It is in reaction to the foregoing that indigenous clergymen coming from nine Central African dioceses held the sacerdotal solidarity meeting at Bangui Cathedral on 24 May. They opposed the removal of Monsignor Pomodimo and accused the apostolic nuncio of being discriminatory, partial and selective in the assessment of the situation, since white priests and bishops are also guilty of the same practices.

White priests and bishops indeed. Archbishop Pomodimo doesn’t appear to be in line to take over a major Roman basilica as archpriest, does he? I also don’t see proportional culpability levelled on Irish or American or Australian or other bishops for presiding over sex scandals, do you? Women religious, perhaps.

Let’s be realistic. Roman Catholicism is a big operation. Maybe the Congregation for Evangelization decided to handle this with more firmness than the CDF. No consolation for the CAR clergy and the now-retired archbishop. Pomodimo must have been involved with a woman and children himself to have had the resignation accepted in Rome so quickly. Otherwise, this does look pretty damning for the appearance of racism. I don’t suppose anybody out there is reading this who has more on-the-ground information.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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5 Responses to (Ecclesiastical) Death Comes For The Archbishop

  1. JC says:

    I think that, sadly, the Church has a greater problem with priests in “relationships” than with priests engaging in sex abuse.

    Look at Maciel: the abuse wasn’t what got his evil finally acknowledged; it was his mistress and child.

    When my wife was in Haiti, the priest there said that most of the priests in Haiti do no live in chastity.

  2. Fran says:

    As I said yesterday, and as I have said many times, the lack of moral authority is astounding and heartbreaking.

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    A test of the Vatican’s cojones would be if they imposed this “retirement” on the ENTIRE Irish church hierarchy.

    Fat chance, that …. they are (how do we put this delicately) too fair-skinned for such harsh treatment.

  4. Jim McK says:

    This sort of abrupt retirement is more frequent than you might think. Two of them happened almost unnoticed but for subsequent events:

    Milingo was kicked upstairs to Rome rather than retired, but it probably was for some wayward activity (not necessarily about celibacy). Only when he married in a mass ceremony presided over by Rev Moon did it become noticed….

    Lugo in Paraguay retired from his diocese a year or so before there were even rumors of political ambitions, as far as I can tell. I have seen many explanations for his retirement, including death threats, “liberation theology”, exhaustion… Since his election as president of Paraguay, breaking the Montana Party’s decades long reign, he has been laicized and at least two women have come forward claiming to have had children. Political ambitions or sexual infidelities may have been present before the retirement, but who knows? Maybe they were not.

    Even Abp Quinn’s retirement from San Francisco might fit this mold, where an out of sync pastor is encouraged to retire by hie peers. (I am not suggesting any sexual impropriety, just pressure on an out-of step colleague.)

    I have little doubt that more incidents like these could be found from around the world in the last few years.

  5. Paul Bourriet says:

    Not sure what comments Ivan Cardinal Dias has made when he himself I heard has done such evil things when he was Archbishop of Mumbai and prefect of some congregation. He is the devil in disguise.

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