We live in a seedy town. The mayor, the judge, and the sheriff sit on a dusty porch. They while away their slow, empty days. They swap bad jokes. They never give a thought to the town’s future. Because they are corrupt time-servers…
When a Christian clergyman sexually abuses a minor, or any vulnerable person, it effects everyone.
Theodore McCarrick owed something to the people of the Archdiocese of New York, his hometown, where he became a priest. He owed the same thing to the people of the dioceses of Metuchen NJ, Newark NJ, and Washington DC–all of which he led as a bishop. He owed us an honest life. He owed us the loving service of a diligent and zealous priest.
We didn’t get that, apparently. On June 20, the Archdioceses of New York and Washington DC announced that Pope Francis had suspended McCarrick from any priestly duties, because a man (we learned in the New York Times that his name is Mike) had accused McCarrick of sexually abusing him, while he was still a boy.
Now, subsequent to such an announcement, about such a prominent churchman: Our Holy Father, and the incumbent bishops of the affected dioceses, owe something to Mike. They owe something to any other victims. They owe something to all of us whose lives McCarrick has touched. They owe us an open trial of Theodore McCarrick.
Our souls face grave peril here. Our former father in God stands accused of grievous wrongs against trusting, innocent victims–victims who wandered into danger precisely because they shared our faith and our trust in the Church’s clergy.
We need to know the facts. We need to hear the testimony of the witnesses. We need to hear the verdict and the sentence. We need to see justice done. Our relationship with this Church–and therefore, the salvation of our souls–depends upon our having confidence that justice has been served in the case of Theodore McCarrick.
Now, I mentioned trusting, innocent victims, in the plural, because…
1. On July 19, a man named James lodged a public accusation against McCarrick, in the pages of the New York Times. James accuses McCarrick of corrupting him sexually while he was still a boy, and then continuing to abuse him well into adulthood.
2. The Archdioceses’ announcement of June 20 referred opaquely to other victims. We have since learned–no thanks to any Church official–that the other victims include seminarians and young priests. McCarrick apparently corrupted them while they were aspiring, under his care, to become priests. McCarrick thereby gravely endangered their souls, and the souls of all those whose lives they would touch.
So the incumbent pope, with the incumbent bishops of the affected dioceses owe us an open trial, a trial in which all these charges get a public airing. McCarrick deserves his chance to answer. Then a judge must deliver justice. If any of the victims prefer to remain anonymous during such a trial, let them. We can still have a public trial, with their testimony submitted anonymously.
The public need for such a trial has been obvious since the end of July. But neither the pope, nor any of the incumbent bishops, have communicated with us about this. In any way. Neither the pope, nor any of the incumbent bishops, have communicated to the public any facts whatsoever regarding the McCarrick case.
Quite the contrary. We still have no way of knowing if any Church official has so much as spoken with James. Everything we know about McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians has come from them speaking out through the media, or through Archbishop Carlo Viganò’s testimony, or through reactions to that testimony.
McCarrick disappeared on June 20. I myself happen to know where he is. He is in a comfortable house–where I lived for a couple months in 2002, with James Cardinal Hickey, who was then retired and quite ill. But no Church official has ever said anything about when we will see McCarrick publicly face the charges against him.
Pope Francis wrote us a letter on August 20. He never addressed a single fact of the McCarrick case. None of the bishops of the affected dioceses have ever spoken about seeing justice done in the McCarrick case at all.
Our peace, and our relationship with the Church, is riding on this. But, the truth is, none of us have any reason to believe that any of the prelates involved have given this matter a moment’s real thought. We have no reason to think that anything further will happen, when it comes to a public reckoning of McCarrick’s crimes. None of the incumbents in office show the slightest understanding of the duty they have to justice, and to our souls.
A clergyman must act with zeal for souls. A police officer acts out of zeal for public safety and peace. A health inspector acts out of zeal for the public’s bodily well-being. A judge acts out of zeal for the law. A clergyman must act with zeal for souls. He must fulfill his duty because he fears his own damnation and the damnation of those for whom he is responsible. A clergyman must long with all his heart to reach heaven with his flock intact.
A clergyman without this zeal for souls is, in a word, corrupt. He occupies a place of honor; he receives deference; he enjoys notoriety, since the Lord has set him at the head of the household. But he is an empty shell. He just sits there and talks to no purpose. He not only doesn’t do his duty–he forgets what his duty is.
A corrupt clergyman is like a do-nothing mayor or police chief or judge. But with one crucial difference: Instead of endangering public peace or prosperity, the corrupt pope or bishop endangers immortal souls.
Here we are, at the end of this awful summer, facing these facts:
1. We, the people of this region of the Church, deserve to see McCarrick tried for his crimes.
And 2. The pope and the bishops have no intention whatsoever of arranging and executing such a trial. Because the pope and bishops are corrupt, do-nothing, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-ing pharisees.
So this entire region of the Church–and perhaps many other regions, too, for all we know–will remain a decaying, dangerous town. A backwater run by lazy good old boys swapping pointless stories on a dusty porch.
May God help us.