Rocco Palmo talks Catholic history in Philadelphia

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 Blogger Rocco Palmo regularly breaks news on the Vatican from his home in Philadelphia.(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Blogger Rocco Palmo regularly breaks news on the Vatican from his home in Philadelphia.(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Blogger Rocco Palmo regularly breaks news on the Vatican from his home in Philadelphia. It’s earned him the reputation of “Church Whisperer.”  He’s also something of an expert on Catholic history in Philadelphia.

He joins Mary Cummings-Jordan to discuss the significant cultural and political upheavals in the Church of the last 50 years — from Vatican II which breathed new life into the Church’s rigid traditions — to the sex abuse scandals and rapidly shrinking congregations that have led dozens of parishes to close their doors for good. 

Here are some of his observations:

“The grand juries in many ways…I mean beyond being horrid in terms of the revelations, became the vehicle to show immense dissatisfaction on the part of the people…it didn’t feel like a church anymore. It felt like a corporation.”

“Everything that could possibly have gone wrong here went wrong.  I mean sex abuse didn’t happen overnight and its cover up…but there was abuse.  On top of it you had this parish and school structure that was acting as if it were the early 20th century — when you had 90 percent of Catholics attending Mass and schools overflowing with kids.  Now you had 18 percent of Catholics attending Mass, but the parish structure had not been meaningfully evolved…and a financial mess which ended up being somewhere around 300 million dollar deficit that nobody knew about.  So it was a complete cultural collapse.”

“You can’t just one day say ‘OK we’re healed and we’re going to move on.’  And the people who have to dictate that healing are the victim survivors of abuse and their loved ones.”

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