The pope has dismissed Theodore McCarrick from the ranks of the clergy. You might imagine, gentle reader, that I have a great deal to say.
I. Dark Night.
Speaking as one of many men McCarrick ordained, let me first say: this has broken our hearts. I imagine the same goes for all those he confirmed.
Most of us never thought, as he lay his hands on our heads to consecrate us, that a day like this would come. We never imagined any such thing. We believed in God, and in His Christ. We believed in the mission for which we had been chosen–the mission of divine love for which then-bishop McCarrick consecrated us, by the laying on of hands.
McCarrick consecrated us as a successor of Christ’s Apostles. We received our consecration with faith. We cherish the grace of this consecration as the great prize of our pilgrim lives. For such a day as this to come–when the successor of St. Peter has expelled our father in God from the sacred ministry… Well, this is a trial of faith. It is a gut punch. I know none of us would this wish on anyone.
Same goes for all those who worked closely with McCarrick–worked with him to further the cause of Christ, trusting him and believing in him. My memories of 2001-2006 abound with countless such good, earnest people. May God comfort us all.
II. Crime and Punishment
McCarrick stands accused of crimes of the gravest kind, and he has never publicly denied the accusations, at least not in any meaningful way. Fact is, if they weren’t true, he owed us a vehement public denial a long time ago.
Desecrating the confessional with the sexual abuse of a minor. Sexually corrupting seminarians and young priests under his fatherly care. Victimizing helpless souls.
These victimized souls have this right: Never to have to endure seeing this priest ascend the altar again. Never to have to see this cruel manipulator stand in the place of the gentle and true Jesus.
Holy Mother Church owes McCarrick’s victims this sentence–his permanent expulsion from the sanctuary. She owes that to all the victims of priestly sexual abuse. May God help all victims find a way to believe in the Holy Mass again.
III. The tribunal of justice
We need to remember two things about the presiding judge, and the appellate judge, in McCarrick’s defrocking case.
i. The presiding judge of the case, Luis Card. Ladaria Ferrer, recently evaded a subpoena in a sex-abuse cover-up case, by taking advantage of technicalities in international law. That would seem to render him unsuitable to sit in judgment on a sex-abuse case.
ii. Archbishop Viganò accused the appellate judge in this case–the sitting Roman pontiff–of personal involvement in covering-up McCarrick’s crimes. The pope has never answered these charges; he has never denied that he participated in covering-up for McCarrick.
So if the reigning pope had any real integrity as an honest judge, he would have recused himself altogether from the McCarrick case. He would have acknowledged that he had no business sitting in judgment under such circumstances, and he would have appointed a different judge to substitute for him–someone with no personal connection to the matter at hand.
Now, assuming that McCarrick intended to dispute the accusations against him–which his lawyer had repeatedly said that he did intend to do–the verdict has come much more quickly than it reasonably should have.
We know something about Mr. James Grein’s testimony, since James has spoken openly about it to multiple journalists. I see no reason to doubt the accuracy of James’ accusations. It seems fairly clear that McCarrick is guilty of the charges that James has leveled.
But, by the same token, James has said plenty of opaque, unintelligible things. The statement he made today, inspiring in its courage and faith, also contains generalized charges that cannot be verified.
Also, the Vatican’s statement today refers to other accusations. About which we know little or nothing. Did McCarrick have adequate time to respond to all the charges?
In other words: This judicial process manifestly lacks integrity. Lacks it profoundly.
If it were an honest and fair trial, then why not release all the documents? (With names of victims blacked-out, if they so choose.) After all, buzzwords like “transparency” flow forth from our prelates’ lips like water these days. Here is a perfect opportunity! Show the world the Church’s true openness by publishing the entire contents of the McCarrick trial record, for the world to read and learn from.
Why not do that? At this point, nothing whatsoever remains of Thedore McCarrick’s privacy. He lost the right to the protection of his privacy when he assumed the bishop’s throne anyway.
No, the only reasonable explanation for the near-total opacity of the Holy See’s announcement of the verdict is this: If the trial record were published, it would not withstand the scrutiny of honest judges and lawyers.
Actually, questions immediately arise, even with respect to the paltry public revelation that the Vatican has made:
In addition to his crimes against James (and perhaps another minor), McCarrick stands convicted of sins against the Sixth Commandment with adults. According to what legal criteria was he found guilty of this crime? What makes a sin against the Sixth Commandment between a priest and an adult a crime?
Perhaps the beginning of the answer lies here: The Vatican announcement continues “with the aggravating factor of abuse of power.” How did the court establish the presence of this aggravating factor? What criteria determine whether or not this factor is present, in any given case?
Also: Considering the fact that many bishops and three popes have known for decades that McCarrick broke the Sixth Commandment with adults who were not really free to resist him, why didn’t anyone try and convict him of this crime long ago?
These immediate questions, and many more like them, will receive no answer anytime soon. Because: these days dangerous, dishonest mafiosi run the one, true Church of Jesus Christ. McCarrick’s sentence does not mean a new beginning. Quite the contrary. The mafiosi have simply passed private judgment on one of their own, because it suited their craven purposes at this particular moment.