Written by Elizabeth Yore
“It is the Argentine attitude: Suppress and ignore” V.S.Naipaul, The Return of Eva Peron
In the summer of 2011, the Puyehue Volcano near the Chilean city of Osorno, erupted sending a cloud of ash billowing into the Chilean skies and blanketing the farmlands with cinders. Perhaps Mother Nature was prescient, anticipating the upcoming volcanic reaction by Osorno Catholics to the appointment of the much despised and discredited Bishop Juan Barros by Pope Francis in March 2015.
At issue, is the papal selection of a bishop with a long and sordid history of covering up clergy sex abuse. Like all political intrigue, the initial wrongdoing is overshadowed by subsequent nefarious behavior, played out in the Vatican corridors.
The improbable twists and turns of this story read like the Vatican thriller, Angels and Demons, with powerful Cardinals and Bishops testifying in court, a secret recording of the Pope in an unguarded and revealing rant, the hacking of explosive emails between two plotting prominent prelates, topped off with an unhealthy dose of illicit sex and serial sex exploitation of minors by a powerful priest.
Weaving through this shocking modern saga of ecclesial intrigue and back door papal politics are the footprints of the Shoes of the Fisherman, who emerges not as the merciful pontiff, but rather as a mudslinging, and churlish political operative. Francis exposes himself as the ecclesial power broker, who defers to his brother cardinals, rather than ‘mercifully accompanying’ the victims of clergy abuse and derides the simple Osorno laity for demanding that the Church get rid of predators.
The story begins with the Catholics of Osorno on their knees praying for a papal reversal. Hopeful that their prayerful petitions would be answered, Osorno Catholics held prayer vigils and candlelight processions, wrote petitions to Pope Francis, imploring him to withdraw the Barros appointment.