Cardinal Archbishop Cupich of Chicago has weighed in on the Vigano accusations against Pope Francis. He believes Francis is right not to have answered the charges. The pope, he maintains, has a “bigger agenda,” from which he must not let this distract him: “Talking about the environment, defending migrants.” “We're not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”
This is not reassuring.
Talking about the environment and defending migrants are the church's core mission?
This is virtue signalling. This is substituting politics for morality. Once we do that, there is no point any longer in having a Catholic Chruch. We have political parties for that. This politicization is what has destroyed the United Church in Canada, and is destroying the Catholic Church in Latin America.
Is anything accomplished if Pope Francis speaks out on environmental matters? Everyone is in favour of protecting the environment; there is no moral issue here. And Francis has no expertise in determining what approach is most likely to do so.
More or less the same is true of migrants. Some may forget or not care about the interests of the migrants, so the Church does have a role to play. But the public debate is more complex than just being pro- or anti-migrant. And the pope has no special expertise to offer on any more than this very basic issue, which is not really the subject of public debate.
The duty of a religion, any religion, is to give clear guidance on two things: what is True, and what is Good. This kind of virtue signalling introduces confusion instead of clarity over the latter. In doing so, it gives permission to ignore the Good. “I'm a good person; I vote for open borders and a clean environment. I did my bit. So for the rest of it, I am justified to look out for my own interests.” It is a get-out-of-hell-free card, and it will not be recognized at the Pearly Gates.
Cardinal Cupich is doing exaclty this here: feigned concern for the environment and migrants is used as a cover to excuse personal sin: let's not get distracted by trivialities like hypocrisy, abuse of power, child abuse, coverups, lack of repentance, lack of sexual chastity, and sexual predation. The important thing is, we hold the right positions on the environment!
Whether or not Pope Francis is guilty of the specific charges made against him by Cardinal Vigano, it seems beyond dispute that Francis is guilty of muddying the waters on the Good, rather than being a reliable guide. His papacy is turned about the wrong way.