CastrillÃ³n is a Colombian, born in MedellÃn, who became a Catholic priest and then a bishop during the agony of his countryâ€™s drug-fueled civil wars. In Colombia, he was a remarkable figure: a â€œrustic man with the profile of an eagle,â€ as Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez described him, who left his episcopal residence at night to feed slum children, mediated between guerrillas and death squads and reputedly made his way to Pablo Escobarâ€™s house disguised as a milkman to demand that the drug kingpin confess his sins.
But that isnâ€™t how the world thinks of him today. In the 1990s, CastrillÃ³n was elevated to the College of Cardinals and placed in charge of the Vaticanâ€™s Congregation for the Clergy, where he came to embody the culture of denial that characterized Romeâ€™s initial response to the sex abuse crisis. CastrillÃ³n dismissed the scandal as just â€œan American problem,â€ he defended the churchâ€™s approach to priestly pedophilia long after it had been revealed as pitifully inadequate, and in 2001 he even praised a French bishop for refusing to denounce an abusive priest to the civil authorities.
How did the man who displayed so much moral courage in Colombia become the cardinal who was so morally culpable in Rome? In the same way, perhaps, that college footballâ€™s most admirable coach â€” a mentor to generations of young men, a pillar of his Pennsylvania community â€” could end up effectively washing his hands of the rape of a young boy. [more]