Vox Populi est Vox Deo?
The lecture went forward, and this morning's Inquirer tells us it wasn't pretty.
Well, the Cardinal will have a slightly more friendly audience today as he holds a Holy Hour for the priests of the archdiocese at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Whether there'll be any time for questions or exchanges is unknown at this point.
Catholic laypeople, angered by last week's grand jury report alleging sexual abuse by priests and cover-ups by the Philadelphia Archdiocese, unloaded on Cardinal Justin Rigali last night as he gave a talk at Villanova University.
Rigali gave an hour-long talk on a 40-year-old Vatican social document named "Gaudium et Spes," which translates from Latin as "Joy and Hope." He found little of either during the beginning of the question-and-answer period that followed his speech, presented before about 200 people in the school's Connelly Center.
The first questioner, Judy Gray, noted that Rigali had mentioned "human dignity" 37 times in his speech. She wanted to know how that squared with his support of "criminal cardinals who have protected oral and anal rape."
Rigali defended his predecessors, Cardinals Anthony J. Bevilacqua and John Krol, against charges that they orchestrated cover-ups.
"I think I will have to leave this judgment to God," Rigali, who has apologized for the sexual transgressions, responded to Gray's question.
"I'm sure you will. I'm sure you will," Gray countered. "You're a phony!"
Asked later why she had attacked Rigali at a public meeting, Gray, from St. Philip Neri parish in Lafayette Hill, said: "Where else? I can't get to him. I've written him a million times."
"That thing about human dignity [in Rigali's talk] pushed me over the edge," she added.
Another speaker in the question-and-answer period, Marian Moran, a former Catholic youth minister, urged the cardinal to go to the parish level to talk to youths on dealing with the problems caused by the disclosures.
"It's been a really rough week. It's been a really rough 31/2 years," said Moran, who lives in Media. "We need to heal. Our youth needs to heal."
"You need to hear this youth. You need to hear that they're hurting and they're very disillusioned."
Rigali, who noted that he had a good interaction with archdiocesan youths during last summer's Catholic world youth meeting in Cologne, Germany, acknowledged that work had to be done with young people but did not commit to holding meetings.
Moran later said she thought the cardinal's answer was "poor."
"I want something concrete," she said.