- New U.S. lay group called Better Church Governance Inc. announces annual audit of cardinals to expose those credibly connected to scandal called the Red Hat Report.
- The group’s leaders intend to hold the highest levels of church authority accountable, including the pope.
- A team of close to 100 researchers, investigators, and journalists, some of whom reportedly worked for the FBI, will compile the report.
A new lay group devoted to keeping Catholic leadership accountable has designed an audit to ferret out all cardinals credibly accused of abuse or cover-ups.
The group, named Better Church Governance Inc. (BCG), announced the designs for the Red Hat Report at its private launch event on the campus of Catholic University America on Sunday evening. The Red Hat Report, which the group’s organizers intend to produce by April 2020, will be an annual audit of every papal elector and will publicly reveal the names of Cardinals against whom it finds credible allegations. (RELATED: Pope Calls For Prayers Against ‘Great Accuser’ After Vigano Accuses Him Of Cover-Up Again)
The group said the report is intended “to hold the hierarchy of the Catholic Church accountable for abuse and corruption, and to develop and support honesty, clarity, and fidelity in Church governance,” according to Crux Now.
Members of the group devoted over $1 million toward the production of the Red Hat Report, which will be compiled by a team of about 100 investigators, researchers, and journalists. Each cardinal in the report will be ranked on a rating system of “Strong Evidence of Abuse/Corruption, Some Evidence, Positive Evidence Against Abuse/Corruption.”
The group’s operations director, Jacob Imam, said that the report would not only make cardinals’ previously lesser known scandals known to all, but would also help to ensure that the papacy would be in good hands.
“What if we would have had someone else in 2013 who would have been more proactive in protecting the innocent and the young?” Imam asked the event’s attendees.
“Had we had the Red Hat Report, we may not have had Pope Francis,” a presentation at the event read.
Imam converted to Catholicism from Islam in 2015 and is currently a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University. He stated to Crux that neither the meeting nor the group’s goals were meant as an attack on the pontiff, but clarified that “I think it’s fair to say that a defender of traditional values is not something he would identify himself with.”
Imam claimed that, given the dearth of knowledge about Francis after the 2013 conclave, media outlets relied on sources like Wikipedia for information about the then newly elected pope. The Red Hat Report, according to Imam, would have changed that.
As for cardinals, Imam said that the report would seek to determine to what degree each of them were in agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, rather than judge them according to a particular agenda.
“Cardinals need to be held accountable publicly, so there has to be some sort of culture of shame,” Imam said. “They know if they vote for this person…the people that they shepherd, and their pastors, will know about it.”
“This is difficult. There is a dark side to this decision. We recognize that. We are willing to take this on with prayer and fasting…because we can’t allow people to continue to allow our kids, the innocent, the young, seminarians to be devoured the ways that they are,” he added.
Philip Nielsen, managing editor of the Red Hat Report, used Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin as an example of a cardinal whose connection to banking scandals and mention in Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s letter of accusations the group believes should be more widely publicized.
“We can change that … by the next conclave, he needs to be known, worldwide, as a disgrace to the Church. Our plan would be to make sure that his Wikipedia page shows ‘Church Watchdog The Better Governance Group, names Parolin, ‘Extremely Guilty of Abuse’ etc. with a link to the report,” the email read, according to Crux.
The Center for Evangelical Catholicism, a not-for-profit corporation focused on fulfilling the Great Commission, is the fiscal sponsor of BCG.
Phil Scala, CEO of Pathfinder Consultants International, Inc. and who previously worked at the FBI, is listed as a member of the group’s board of directors. The group has also named three of its researchers – Professors Jay Richards of Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Economics, and Melinda Nielsen and Michael P. Foley of Baylor University.
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