In Love with a Tattered Scarlet Rag

Trump Little Sisters Cardinal Wuerl White House religious freedom
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Donald Cardinal Wuerl loves. He loves his scarlet robe.

Not because of the Precious Blood of Christ, and the blood of Christ’s martyrs–which the robe fundamentally represents. Rather, Cardinal Wuerl loves the prestige. And the deference that the robe seems to demand from the sycophants who surround him.

But a painful fact gnaws at the Cardinal’s heart. Namely this: A little New-York leprechaun wore the robe before him. And that fork-tongued bastard sullied the robe. He covered it with dirt.

Theodore McCarrick wore the scarlet robe of the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C. He, too, gloried in the prestige and the deference. He even stood in front of all the news cameras in 2002, to trumpet the ‘great achievement’ of the Dallas Charter.

And the whole time: he belonged in jail.

…Last month Cardinal Wuerl gave two interviews. To try to comfort the faithful upon the release of the Pennsylvania grand-jury report on clerical sexual abuse.

Nikki Battiste of CBS asked the Cardinal, “How does it feel, knowing that children were sexually abused at the hands of priests under your watch?” The Cardinal would not, or could not, answer the question. Instead, he said: “Well, that’s why, if that came to the light, we moved to remove that priest.”

linus security blanketI, for one, still want to hear the answer to the question that Ms. Battiste asked. (More on that below.)

But, if you’re the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, why express your own emotions? When you have the power to manipulate the emotions of those around you, who have no choice but to serve you?

In the second interview, referring to disciplining priests who had sexually abused children, the Cardinal said to Tom Fitzgerald of Fox 5 DC: “How we dealt with things in the late 80’s/early 90’s is different from the way we would today.” To which Mr. Fitzgerald responded: “What could possibly ‘evolve’ when it comes to understanding child sexual abuse?”

Dear reader, please go ahead and watch both of these interviews in their entirety. The second one is both long and enormously painful to watch. But click the links, and see for yourself. Then ask yourself this question: Who could come away from watching these interviews and think that this man is honest? Who could think that he has a grip on reality?

…The sitting Archbishop of Washington has the duty to help his people to cope with the gut-punch: his predecessor belonged in jail. During his entire tenure. The former Cardinal Archbishop of Washington. Should have been in jail the whole time.

Not easy to cope with. But someone has to master his emotions about it, and then help the rest of us cope.

Problem is: Cardinal Wuerl needs someone to help him cope. He obviously cannot cope. The thing he has loved for so long–his scarlet robe, with its prestige, and a cortege of sycophants trailing along–this treasured thing isn’t worth a damn anymore.

St Matthews CathedralWhy not burn the red cassock on the steps of the cathedral? And yell every curse word you can think of, in a fit of rage against the leprechaun from New York? All on camera. That would comfort the faithful a million times more than the two interviews above.

What we are witnessing in the Church of Washington is this: the pathetic spectacle of a delirious man, in love with a tattered rag, clinging to it with childlike desperation. And demanding that those around him pretend that the garment is still shiny and new and lovely.

Please, please, please: Step aside, your Eminence. Find a cozy, shaded sun-room somewhere, and do crossword puzzles. We need a man willing to cope with reality.

Sitting on the throne of St. Matthew’s Cathedral doesn’t mean prestige anymore. It means a long, hard, quiet struggle. People spitting in your face, and you saying in reply, “Bless you for your honesty.”


14 thoughts on “In Love with a Tattered Scarlet Rag

  1. We all make choices in this life, some of them bad and some of them good. When we make bad choices, we have to pay the price – all of us can relate to that. If I were a victim, I would forgive but I sincerely wouldn’t want others to suffer my anguish. I would want justice and I would expect that the hierarchy of the church would want that, too – 100% of them. But, this is the real world and there are still a hierarchy of elitists in the church that think the problem is solved. Search current happenings that continue and you will realize that’s you can separate forgiveness from justice. God would want that for his Church.

  2. Fr White, Thank you for your courage and your honesty.

    In Christ,


    “Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” ~ St. Therese of Lisieux


  3. What a read.When I am reading this,Its like Watching a Movie.You cannot make this up. And another thing,This reminds of Washington,D.C.Cover-ups.Thank you Father Mark.

  4. Wuerl wrote that letter to the Vatican asking for guidance and saying he knew that treatment for these types of abusers didn’t work…and then did absolutely nothing about Paone and kept transferring abusers. I still can’t wrap my mind around how someone does that. He should be in jail.

  5. SY-CO-PHANT more at a servile self-seeking flatterer. I had to look that one up, and it does not define Fr. Mark, and must not define any of us but too easily can by our willfully ignoring WRONG; NOT getting fighting mad over SIN that devastates the many. Especially when it blasphemes Our Lord and His Church – which is US! It seems to me Our Lord shines winnowing Light into darkness to reveal the very real rot long entrenched. How will there be schism enough to rive out His Faithful Church from the false one given over to evil without His Light. Personally, I expect more ‘breaking news’ of more and worse than McCarrick, Wuerl, and PA. Hey, we are in the early rounds of a Life and Death fight!

  6. What does that say about you?? He ordained you….you must have known what he was…didn’t you?
    Is the view pretty good from the cheap seats?

    1. Yes, I knew that the Archbishop who ordained me was a dishonest man. But I believed the Lord was calling me to be a priest… As far as the seat I have, I happen to love it very much, even if ecclesiastical careerists might regard it as “cheap.” … If you’re insinuating that I’m a coward who just harps from a comfortable distance, all I can say is that there is nothing about any of this that scares me. I feel like I’m on the field trying to move the ball downfield while our so-called leaders are still trying to figure out how to lace their cleats.

  7. God bless you Father White. You are a warrior and you are right. God called you to be s priest. Like many, I’m sad and sickened by the scandal in the church I love so much and has molded me into the person I am today. I will not give up my faith nor practicing as a faithful Catholic. I do believe Cardinal Wuerl needs to resign. His arrogance by remaining will have a profound impact on those in his diocese. I truly believe many of our young people will leave. I pray thus isn’t so but could and will happen.

  8. Mr. Or Ms. Edwards. Most of us look up to good priests like Father Mark. If he is sitting in a cheap seat, what kind of seat are you sitting in? I look back on many, many years not listening to good priests after Vatican II and support for our many good priests is much needed right now. Please don’t lower Father Mark to a level of being in a cheap seat – he is fighting hard for the purification of our church and sadly is still in the minority.

  9. Nancy very well said. I can’t imagine that was a past parishioner, surely just someone who stumbled upon the blog. I’m thankful for his blogs and look forward to them and have never and would never thought his blog posts were wrong…

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