Il Giorno del Giudizio (The Day of Judgment) by Andrea Tornielli and Gianni Valente
Dear reader, your unworthy servant reads the Italian. So I can inform you of what this book says. They published it in Italy a month ago, and it says a lot:
Two Vatican journalists, intent on making Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano look bad, obtained access to some very knowledgeable churchmen. The churchmen talked.
First: Thedore-McCarrick-related facts, heretofore unknown to the public, which we learn in the first four chapters of this book…
1. The Vatican began to look for a replacement for James Card. Hickey, Archbishop of Washington, in early 1999.
John Card. O’Connor, then-Archbishop of New York, had heard about McCarrick abusing seminarians. He wrote to Rome, warning Pope John Paul II that choosing the incumbent of Newark for Washington would lead to a colossal scandal: “The American clergy will become divided, and the reputation of the hierarchy will suffer, with mud on the Church.”
Tornielli and Valente include the reason why O’Connor knew. The priest who eventually received a settlement payment in 2004 had complained to Bishop Edward Hughes, McCarrick’s successor in the diocese of Metuchen, NJ, about McCarrick’s abuse. He complained about it in 1994.
In his August testimony, Archbishop Vigano painted a picture of an enfeebled John Paul II who wasn’t really in the decision-making loop in AD 2000. Tornielli and Valente successfully undermine that picture. I myself had the privilege of meeting the pope in the year 2000; he was somewhat enfeebled. Out-of-it? No way.
Cardinal O’Connor’s letter led to a yearlong delay in choosing a successor for Washington. During that year, Cardinal O’Connor died. Meanwhile, McCarrick wrote Rome, denying the accusations against him.
John Paul II believed the man who had spoken Polish to him, and to Bill Clinton, in Newark in 1995.
[Would like to pause here for one moment, dear, attentive reader.
Discussion of McCarrick’s career tends to focus on his ‘promotion’ to Washington in 2000. But this obscures an important fact: sitting in the episcopal throne of the Archdiocese of Newark, while less prestigious, actually involves shepherding a lot more people. And Newark, unlike Washington, has multiple suffragan sees. Washington barely qualifies as an archdiocese; it has only one very-small suffragan see.
What if McCarrick had not become the Archbishop of Washington? He would not have ascended to the College of Cardinals. But his depredations would still have wounded the faith of thousands upon thousands of Catholics. And hundreds of priests.
Archbishop Vigano, and Tornielli and Valente, have given us a lot of information about events in Rome and Washington since 1999. But we can’t forget: the story of Theodore McCarrick is fundamentally the story of a New-York priest who became a bishop and archbishop in New Jersey. And apparently did quite a few terrible things. Which got covered-up, even before his name appeared on anyone’s list of candidates for Archbishop of Washington in 1999.
McCarrick’s abuses would demand a serious reckoning–of who knew what, and when–even if the ball had bounced a different way for Washington in the year 2000.
Anyway, back to the facts revealed in the book…]
2. In the process of trying to make Vigano look dishonest, Tornielli and Valente make him look fundamentally honest. Their sources corroborate all of these assertions:
On the day after the Vatican announced the pope’s choice for Washington, a former seminary professor in Newark wrote to the Holy See, at the insistence of the then-nuncio to the US, Gabriel Montalvo. The professor re-iterated O’Connor’s charges against McCarrick. (O’Connor’s prior letter explains why Montalvo already knew something about it.)
Tornielli and Valente have a lovely paragraph outlining their presumption (which I believe accurate) that McCarrick ceased his depredations upon arriving in Washington:
The diocese doesn’t have a beach house to which he could invite seminarians. And seeing how close he was to the marble halls of the federal institutions, to the Congress and the President of the USA, McCarrick knew that, with so many eyes focused on him, he had to be much more careful.
In December 2005, the sitting Bishop of Metuchen, NJ, Paul Bootkoski, reported to the Apostolic See this fact: his diocese had secretly settled claims of abuse against McCarrick made the previous year.
(In the meantime, McCarrick had participated in the Sistine-chapel conclave held after the death of JP II.)
At this point, the authors’ sources tell them: Bootkoski, Montalvo (the nuncio), and the officials of the Roman dicasteries all acknowledge the fundamental fact. This problem now sits squarely on the desk of the new pope, Benedict XVI. Only the Holy Father can judge and sentence a Cardinal of the Roman Church…
[Much more to come over the next few days, my dear ones. Click here for PART TWO.]