Does anyone remember the mini-wave of "Jesusland" maps that grew out of the nail-biter 2000 U.S. presidential election? Click here for some background on that.
Well, the famous maps of all those flyover country red states and the northern and coastal blue states evolved into images pitting "Jesusland" against the "United States of Canada" or the "United States of Liberty and Education."
You get the idea, especially if you check out some of the F-word map options that should not be repeated in public.
I thought of this the other day when I read the Crux feature that ran with this headline: "Reactions to Pope allegations offer x-ray of a divided Church." Truth is, at the time I was swamped with all of the commentary and advocacy-news reports about the Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano letter (see full text here). Thus, I really appreciated a rather calm look at one newsy angle of the story, from high altitude (so to speak).
What emerged was this thought -- are the doctrinal wars in the American Catholic Church creating another Jesusland map?
What this Crux story did was chart some of the early reactions to this crisis by bishops who are speaking on the record. Here is the overture:
NEW YORK -- Within hours of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s blockbuster claims that Pope Francis knew about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s history of abuse, the bishop of Tyler, Texas issued a statement saying he found those claims to be credible, asking that it be read at all Masses on Sunday.
“I do not have the authority to launch such an investigation, but I will lend my voice in whatever way necessary to call for this investigation and urge that its findings demand accountability of all found to be culpable even at the highest levels of the Church,” wrote Bishop Joseph Strickland. He went on to include the 11-page testimonial of the former papal ambassador to the United States on his diocesan website.
OK, where is Texas on the Jesusland map?
Then there is this reaction:
Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, named in the report for allegedly downplaying the link between gay priests and abuse, responded with a detailed statement responding to each charge, adding, “As for the rest of the ‘testimony,’ a thorough vetting of the former nuncio’s many claims is required before any assessment of their credibility can be made.”
OK, that's kind of a PR statement and, clearly, not Vigano-friendly. And where is Chicago on the Jesusland map?
You get the idea. Then there is this:
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington also disputed the claims against him in the letter and threw his support behind the idea of an Apostolic Visitation to investigate how McCarrick’s ecclesial career advanced despite a history of abuse.
Sounds familiar. Where is DC on the Jesusland map? And who was the previous cardinal in Washington?
Next we have:
Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark condemned the statement for not advancing the cause of survivors of sexual abuse, adding, “Together with Pope Francis, we are confident that scrutiny of the claims of the former nuncio will help to establish the truth.”
Where is Newark on the Jesusland map? And who was the previous shepherd in that New York City bedroom community?
One more on this side of the nuclear war:
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, also mentioned briefly in the Viganò missive, issued the most strongly worded statement, condemning his brother bishops for allowing the recent allegations to divide the conference and detract from the ultimate goal of providing healing to victims.
“We as bishops cannot allow the pathway of partisanship to divide us or to divert us from the searing mission that Christ calls us to at this moment. We must make public our sinful past. We must engage and help heal the survivors of abuse. We must develop new, lay-governed instruments of oversight and investigation in every element of how we confront sexual abuse by clergy at all levels in the life of the Church,” he wrote. “And we must reject all attempts to subordinate these goals to ideological or personal projects,” he concluded. “For if we do not, we will have betrayed the victims of abuse once again.”
OK, where is San Diego on the Jesusland map? Oh, and what about the rumors that Bishop McElroy is the establishment choice to be the next man with a red hat in Washington, D.C.?
Meanwhile, later on in the Crux report, there are two other bishops indicating some sympathy for Vigano.
In a statement posted to social media on Monday, Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa, Oklahoma said that the allegations made by Viganò “mark a good place to begin the investigations…in order to restore holiness and accountability to the leadership of the Church.”
In another statement, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona said he had worked with the former nuncio for 39 years, and “I have always known and respected him as a man of truthfulness, faith and integrity.” He went on to note that while he could not personally verify the claims by Viganò, he asked that they be “taken seriously by all.”
Let's see. Oklahoma and Arizona are in the red zone, as well.
Now, there is an emerging episcopal consensus -- or at least a public show of one -- around the call for an in-depth investigation of the McCarrick affair (and associated matters) by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
This is interesting since, as I noted in this earlier post, two of the first things that lay and clerical investigators would need to do, in such an investigation, would be: (a) seek the relevant Vatican documents about McCarrick and those who helped protect him and (b) sit down for a long interview with the Vatican's ambassadors to the United States during this drama.
Well, there is the irony. Task (a) is precisely what Vigano urged investigators to do and one of Vatican ambassadors who would be a five-star witness in this case would be (wait for it) Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal nuncio in Washington from 2011-2016.
Oh, and where is Cardinal DiNardo's cathedral located on the "Jesusland" map?
That would be Texas.
Anyone have any other names to plug into this scenario? Yes, yes, I know that Philadelphia and Los Angeles do not fit the map. #DUH