High-profile leaders in the Catholic Church — including the pope himself — are facing accusations of appearing dismissive regarding allegations of prolonged, systemic sexual abuse lodged against those in their ranks.
However, a number of priests are speaking out via editorials, public letters, the pulpit, interviews, and even social media, calling for the church to further address the accusations made by thousands of parishioners.
One such cleric has taken to Twitter to express his views and frustrations. He spoke with TheBlaze to give further perspective.
What did he tweet?
Father Brian Grady is the pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He joined Twitter just this month, and everything he's posted to his feed is either scripture or comments in reference to the developments in current scandals involving the Church. At times, he didn't hold back.
In his first post, Grady retweeted a message about Pope Francis promoting James Martin, who has controversially encouraged Catholics to "welcome LGBT persons and their families" into the flock. Martin has ripped many priests as "homophobic" and recommended that they find different ways to work with gay parishioners "rather than 'simply repeating Church teaching without considering their lived experience,'" the National Catholic Register reported.
Grady responded to the news: "On this...Lord have mercy! Fr. Martin needs prayers for conversion and words of correction...not words of endorsement or promotion."
On this ... Lord have mercy! Fr. Martin needs prayers for conversion and words of correction ... not words of endorsement or promotion. https://t.co/F5VcWS39qI
— Fr. Brian Grady (@fr_grady) August 25, 2018
After Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano published his 11-page letter leveling explosive allegations against Catholic leadership and calling on Pope Francis to resign, Grady tweeted, "This changes everything. Lord Jesus, please purify Your Church of these wolves and disciples of Judas."
This changes everything. Lord Jesus, please purify Your Church of these wolves and disciples of Judas. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 https://t.co/qJa8VIjWud
— Fr. Brian Grady (@fr_grady) August 26, 2018
But the real zinger from Grady was his reaction to Pope Francis' response to Vigano's letter. The pontiff told reporters, "Read the [Vigano] statement carefully and make your own judgment. ... I will not say a single word on this."
Grady tweeted, "Sounds like someone who is guilty and who is preparing to 'lawyer up.'"
Sounds like someone who is guilty and who is preparing to “lawyer up”. https://t.co/DIySfbXhHF
— Fr. Brian Grady (@fr_grady) August 27, 2018
The priest didn't comment further as to whether or not he believes the pope is actually guilty of any crime, but he did comment on social media the next day: "In some ways, I think the Lord allowed Pope Francis's election to happen: 1) out of respect for the Cardinals' free will; and 2) knowing that the human imperfections of Francis would help in bringing to light the darkness, corruption, and cancer that had infiltrated the Church."
In some ways, I think the Lord allowed Pope Francis's election to happen: 1) out of respect for the Cardinals' free will; & 2) knowing that the human imperfections of Francis would help in bringing to light the darkness, corruption, and cancer that had infiltrated the Church.
— Fr. Brian Grady (@fr_grady) August 28, 2018
What else does he think?
Father Grady spoke with TheBlaze on Wednesday, providing further perspective on recent comments made by church leadership.
One issue is literally close to home for Grady. His parish is part of the Rockford Diocese, which is a neighbor to the Chicago Archdiocese. Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich made headlines this week with his response to the allegations raised in Vigano's letter.
The cardinal told Chicago's WMAQ-TV, "The Pope has a bigger agenda. He's got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We're not going down a rabbit hole on this."
Grady told TheBlaze, "I will admit that I was disturbed by Cardinal Cupich's response. All things considered, this scandal in the Church, what is happening right now, is a priority that we should be focusing on."
"Tragically, the comments by Cardinal Cupich gave the impression that [the sexual abuse allegations] aren't being taken seriously," Grady continued. "It almost came across as flippant — 'Why are they focusing on these issues?' OK, granted, the environment and migrant rights have some importance in varying degrees, but right now the priority should be reaching out to those who have been hurt in the church and to work toward rebuilding trust and healing in the church."
Grady explained, "I believe sometimes that some bishops in the hierarchy may not understand the severity of what is going on with this scandal. As priests in parishes, we're in the trenches so to speak, and so we see directly how people are impacted by these things. Because of their responsibilities and schedules, some Bishops may not always have those direct interactions with the people in the pews that we do and so we often will see more and hear more on how this and other things impact the people."
"People have been shaken by these allegations, and the allegations by Archbishop Vigano are worth looking into," Grady added.
Regarding Pope Francis' refusal to comment on Vigano's letter, Grady said, "In a sense, I believe he was saying 'look into this.' But, like most people, I wish he would have said more. Sadly, instead of the press looking into these allegations, what we have seen more of are 'attacks' on individuals and their reputations. As other bishops have stated, these appear to be credible allegations and so they really need to be looked into."