Pope Francis with Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, who turned 75 on Dec. 7.
(Rome) Every pope has his peculiarities in the administration of office. In addition, however, there are customs that were respected by the popes. Under Pope Francis, many things changed, including the retirement of bishops. Critics accuse Francis of acting according to the Peronist maxim: "For friends everything, for enemies, not even justice". Currently, the focus is on the US capital Washington, where the incumbent archbishop reached the canonical age limit of 75 years on 7 December.
Archbishop of Washington since 2019 is Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who, like his predecessor Cardinal Donald Wuerl, belongs to the so-called McCarrick Boys. Theodore McCarrick, as a predecessor of Cardinal Wuerl, was also Archbishop of Washington and himself a purple bearer until he fell deeply in 2018 after an accusation from the New York Times. Because of homosexual abuse, he lost the cardinal dignity and was finally laicized. Who had covered everything McCarrick, who gained the greatest influence under Pope Francis, is still unclear. This also applies to the relationship between Pope Francis and McCarrick. The former apostolic nuncio to the USA Carlo Maria Viganò revealed in 2018 that he had informed Pope Francis about McCarrick's activities as early as June 2013. Francis ignored the information of his ambassador and installed as bishops those candidates in the US that McCarrick suggested to him. McCarrick's desired successor as Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wuerl, also had to leave the field in 2019 after his behavior towards cases of homosexual abuse by clerics became known.
The fact that in 2019, after the fall of McCarrick and Wuerl, a McCarrick boy became the new Archbishop of Washington, showed in a shocking way that old gay cliques and progressive cliques are intact and have influence in Santa Marta.
Gregory's protective hand over Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi
The importance of Washington's appointment of bishops was shown in the dispute over the Communion to abortion politicians such as US President Joe Biden and the now voted out Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. It is remarkable that this implacable advocate of abortion is confronted with homosexuality and abuse in the immediate family environment, although not child abuse.
When several U.S. bishops demanded consequences for politicians who actively promote genocide through abortion and wanted to exclude them from receiving Holy Communion because canon law provides that they are excommunicated latae sententiae, the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, refused this demand and held his protective hand around Biden and Pelosi. He apparently fulfilled the expectations that Pope Francis had placed in him. The point of contention was finally "settled" by Francis himself by receiving Biden in the Vatican in 2021 and then allowing him not only to explain how much the Pope appreciated him, but also to receive Holy Communion. The same was repeated in 2022 with Nancy Pelosi, who even received communion in St. Peter's Basilica in the presence of the Pope. Roma locuta, causa finita. Translated: To whom the Pope grants communion, a local bishop cannot refuse it. Theoretically, yes. The bishop would even have canon law on his side. But he would then be "more papal than the Pope", a negative title that one tries to avoid.
Thus, with the help of the McCarrick boys, who are only a minority in the US episcopate, Francis succeeded several times in imposing his course on the bishops' conference of the United States: in 2018 regarding the fight against sexual abuse by clerics and bishops, 2021/2022 regarding the abortion issue.
"Everything for friends, for enemies..."
Meanwhile, Francis is rebuilding the episcopate through new appointments. According to the maxim mentioned at the beginning, it is to be expected that Cardinal Gregory, who turned 75 on December 7, will remain in office and control the politically important bishopric of Washington.
It will therefore be different in Washington than in the Archdiocese of La Plata, where Archbishop Héctor Rubén Aguer, the Argentine opponent of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was immediately retired, or in the Archdiocese of Ferrara, where Archbishop Luigi Negri had barely finished the thanksgiving service and already had to leave his office, or in the Archdiocese of Milan, where Cardinal Angelo Scola, Bergoglio's opponent in the conclave of 2013, was hardly less quickly removed from office.
In part, this even happened, although the affected episcopal see then remained vacant for years, as happened in the Archdiocese of Caracas, where Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, a staunch critic of the socialist regime of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, retired in 2018 and the episcopal see is still vacant today.
Cardinal Urosa had fallen out of favor with Francis in 2015 because he had participated in the anthology "Staying in the Truth of Christ" before the beginning of the second Synod on the Family in defense of the Church's marriage and moral teaching. On the first day of the synod, he was one of the thirteen cardinals who handed over a letter of complaint to the Pope on October 5, 2015, in which they raised the accusation of a guided synod with "prefabricated results on important controversial issues".
Cardinal Urosa died in September 2021 without Francis, whose friendly relationship with the regime of the "Bolivarian Revolution" is known, having appointed a successor.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: VaticanMedia (Screenshot)