Count the Holy See Among the Abusers

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when 
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
or rats’ feet over broken glass

(from T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”)

Cupich Scicluna Zollner Vatican summit

If I could have entered the Vatican building, I would have asked:

How could His Holiness have done it?

After he knew about McCarrick making his seminarians put on sailor suits and give him nighttime back rubs? After the pope knew that McCarrick made them masturbate him and forced them to submit to his masturbating them?

Knowing all this, the pope let McCarrick (among other things) concelebrate the Archdiocese of Washington jubilarian Mass last year. McCarrick celebrated his 60th jubilee. The then-Cardinal spoke and received a standing ovation from all the bishops and priests.

May 2, 2018.

At that point, Pope Francis had known about the sailor suits, the back rubs, and the forced mutual masturbations for at least four years and ten months.

What does the consecrated celibacy of priests, nuns, and monks mean? Our renunciation of something so lovely as the marital embrace?

One thing it means is this: On the other side of death, a more wonderful embrace awaits us. The divine embrace (please God we get there) will make even the holy joy of matrimony seem like small, passing potatoes by comparison.

Consecrated celibacy in the Church focuses us all–all Christians, young and old–on: the great hope we look for in the life to come.

When our young ladies and gents live through their period of temporary celibacy with this hope as the basic reality of life, then they can make a genuinely free choice about marriage.

The pope’s meeting in Rome these past four days completely missed the true meaning of what happened last July and August. When James Grein finally felt free to tell the world the truth about Theodore McCarrick, Jesus Christ won a great victory. When the still-living victims in Pennsylvania had the opportunity to stand tall, in the full light of day, and denounce as dreadfully wrong what had happened to them, Christ won.

The cruelest part of sexual abuse is: The abuser confuses the victim’s conscience.

My conscience is saying: Wait a minute. Something terribly wrong here.

Meanwhile, the abuser acts authoritatively as if: This is normal. This is how people do. This is what sex is.

What happened last July and August: In these particular cases, conscience finally won. The truth finally won. No, this is not what sex is like. We know what sex is meant to be from Jesus in heaven. He fulfills everything at the wedding banquet of the Lamb. We start to know what sex is really like by: believing that God loves me enough to make me happy forever, whether I marry or not.

I get to choose. To live a life of holy celibacy until I die. Or marry. My choice. God alone owns by body. And He has entrusted it 100% to me, to give to a spouse if I so choose.

Theodore McCarrick does not own my body. Or Father George Koharchik of Altoona-Johnstown. Or Father Gale Leifeld of the Capuchins. Or Father John Joseph Munley of the Diocese of Richmond. If I have to walk out alone into the a strange street to get away, I will–God will protect me.

The abusers had stitched together little secret shadow worlds, in which sexual slavery was normal. Last July and August, Mr. James Grein, Mr. Shaun Doughtery, Mr. Peter Isely, and many others, stepped out of those worlds, into the sunlight of Gospel truth. Christ won.

“The Catholic Scandal” = when pope and bishops don’t see the victory in situations like this. When the pope or the bishop does not celebrate with the liberated captive, and then turn around and punch the abuser squarely in the face.

“The Catholic Scandal” has never meant: O me! A priest committed sexual abuse! O my! Most adults recognize soberly that priests can and do commit sexual abuse. Sure, it makes sense to try to prevent it. Makes sense to do criminal background checks. Makes sense to train everyone to keep on the lookout for warning signs. But we cannot outsmart the devil.

The Catholic Scandal = when the institution that carries the secret of genuine sexual freedom in Her holy bosom does not react to the revelation of sexual abuse like Herself. The scandal is when higher-up shepherds (bishops, pope) do not react like fathers.

Fathers rejoice when they learn that a child has escaped slavery and lived to tell the tale. Then they go after the slaver with a baseball bat. The Scandal = bishops and pope hemming and hawing, shifting and mumbling, then sidling away.

Points of ecclesiastical procedure remain squarely on the table.

Is “grooming” for abuse itself an actionable crime in the Church? What must a diocesan bishop do when the civil authorities cannot, or will not, do anything? When will the Roman tribunals…

a. resolve the large backlog of abuse cases?

b. make their proceedings intelligible to the victims and to the public?

c. establish a means for trying, and punishing, not just bishops who abuse, but also bishops who have failed to react to abuse cases with the Church’s loving zeal for chastity, sexual integrity, and freedom?

The pope’s meeting addressed none of these questions. Instead: “a program very carefully stage-managed to keep the most troubling questions at a distance from the Vatican itself” (as Robert Royal put it).

This Roman meeting was no holy gathering of the successors of the apostles at the tomb of St. Peter. No. They didn’t even manage to use one of the Vatican’s many consecrated places to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy. They had Mass in a reception hall.

This meeting = the attempted construction of a little abusive shadow-world of its own.

Here’s what I mean. A true father does not rely on his children’s approval. Rather, when bad things happen, he deals with the bad things as best he can, according to his best lights. And his children get to lean on him.

In our Church right now, the whole thing goes the other way. We don’t have real fathers right now. Instead, the pope and his minions desperately seek approval. From somewhere. They put on shows to try to manipulate us into congratulating them for “doing the right thing.”

Everything they said in Rome these past four days has been said many times before. Over and over and over again. In 2002, Pope John Paul II said: We face the mystery of evil here. This morning Pope Francis said: We face the mystery of evil here.

In 2002 they said: Bishops’ conferences will get a grip on this problem. This morning they said: Bishops’ conferences will get a grip on this problem.

People who know me know that I am fundamentally an easy-going dude. I was happily doing my little thing, trying to give halfway-decent pastoral care to my lovable cluster-parish flock, until this latest chapter in our Catholic life together began last June 20.

I used to tell a lot more jokes in my sermons. But I have to get deadly serious right now.

I despise everyone involved in the pope’s Roman meeting. I despise them all.

In my book, the only respectable place to stand was outside. Outside the manipulative little show. Out in the Roman sunshine–where the victims’ groups stood.

Everyone inside; everyone in the Synod Hall; all the journalists with credentials in the briefing room; the whole distorted communication apparatus, that can’t see what a colossal, manipulative charade the whole thing was: I despise.

What’s the answer to the question that no one had the courage to ask? Namely: Why, when Pope Francis first learned about the way that McCarrick had abused his seminarians–why did the Pope not immediately act? Why didn’t he do anything to try to save our faith from the corrosion it has suffered these past eight months? Why did he learn about the sailor suits, the back rubs, and the mutual masturbations–and then just hang loose with it, until forces beyond his control made him change course?

What’s the most-reasonable answer? Using Ockham’s razor, to remove all superfluous abstractions, and try to get to the simplest explanation?

Jorge Bergoglio is a McCarrick himself. Either a McCarrick manqué (never did, but wanted to) or a full-blown McCarrick. A despicable McCarrick.

May God help us.

10 thoughts on “Count the Holy See Among the Abusers

  1. I read Fr. Mark’s blog early this morning. I knew then how I felt about it and where I stood on this question. But I waited…took time to think through all that I have learned and what is known now about this scandal. Most importantly, I took time to pray. Now I am ready to write.
    I have, as have many others, followed all of this for months now. I have read everything presented by Fr. Mark as well as other info that was available. I believe I have tried to be fair in considering all of the information provided. I have dealt with the feeling that something was missing, something that should be “seen” but wasn’t.
    Regarding the meeting in Rome, I have tried to keep a positive outlook, have hoped for some glimpse of a reason to think changes will be made. I do feel that there have been some positive steps…releasing the names of the priests charged with abuse was one step. I will continue to hope and pray that more will be done in the future. What do we do without hope? But I am no longer optimistic. My concern is that after all of the “beginnings” we will lapse into a state of “enough has been done.”
    Regarding McCarrick, the biggest question and concern was: Why didn’t the Pope act on what it seemed obvious was known to so many? Was it a matter of forgiveness? Even so, forgiveness does not mean the person who committed the crime should be allowed to continue on as if nothing had happened. while the “true priests” who honored their vows were sometimes mocked in public because of the revelations coming forth. So why was this ignored for years? And then an obvious conclusion, so simple and so logical. And so heart-breaking.
    I confess to some “fear” in being honest in a blog about my opinion. Why? I am not sure. I am just one lay person in the pew. Silencing my “voice” would not make a difference.
    Maybe I am tired of “fighting.” I am retired now, but, as a woman, I know what it was to fight for fairness and recognition in the business world. I also know what it was to fight in the religious world, to have to fight to get a 25 cents an hour pay raise for my employees at a church institution, employees living almost at a poverty level, who needed the money far more than those who didn’t see why they should give a raise.
    All of that being said, I do believe that if I stay silent, if I am not willing to make my “voice” heard through this blog, and perhaps in other places, that I am committing the same sin as those in positions of power who choose the path of least resistance and hope it will all “go away.” If I am not willing to support a priest, my priest, who has the courage to speak openly about this situation, then I have no right to complain when nothing is done.
    I do not have Fr. Mark’s powers of intellect or his ability to research, read and share all the information available. But that does not relieve me of the responsibility to do what I can. At this point in time, I feel that means voicing my support for Fr. Mark’s stand.
    It is time for the laity to let those in authority know that we care and that we appreciate and support priests like Fr. Mark who love the church enough to boldly declare what is happening.
    I know that the only “fear” I should have is of standing by, silently, and of failing my God with my silence.
    May God have mercy on us if we stand by and remain silent. It will then be we, ourselves, who will need God’s forgiveness.
    Judy R

  2. I typed out a long reply…. don’t think it went…. so kinda trying again….
    First… hi mike…. while yes I think the laity coming closer to the cross and less of the world would help, it’s hard to know it’s for this issue in particular when so many of the shepherds have covered it up….by that I mean more the hierarchy above the diocesan priest, not that priests haven’t been involved but it seems people put a lot of stock in what the bishops have said….

    Father mark, this post saddened me maybe more than all the others..I keep praying things will change or that we will see some sign of the bishops truly coming forward with something concrete…. I had a lot of hope in the February meeting, I don’t have the same hope for June. I pray for the priests and bishops and pray enough people join in doing so to change some hearts and minds to the better. I also always pray that you will not lose your sense of what is truly right, and will not lose the drive to make sure it is always said…

  3. I agree with you on your opinion, Father Mark, but your last three sentences are too blasphemous for me to continue on with your blog. Not an example of an “easy going ” priest. Good bye, Father Mark.

    1. CCC 2148. Seems to me that a careful reading of that paragraph would leave open the question of whether it’s okay to speculate as I have done, considering all the circumstances involved right now.

  4. The C9 is a hotbed if abusers. Cupich, Tobin and Farrell are given places of honor. The Pontifical Academy of Life is dismantled. The Pope knew about deaf children being abused and did nothing. He knows about McCarrick and not only does nothing, he removes whatever sanctions were placed on him and sends him to China to sell out the underground church. I think you may be right. What else can people of good will conclude?

  5. “People who know me know that I am fundamentally an easy-going dude.” I just said a prayer for you. Self-knowledge is kind of over-rated anyways.

  6. Why don’t people equate the Vatican with any form of secular govt.? You have your liberals and conservatives absolutely divided and not interested in the truth or the “Law of God”. The church is a divine incarnation run by fail, sinful humans. The popes infallibility according to doctrine is very precise and narrow and the conditions must all be met, otherwise he is acting as any other mortal man, susceptible to sin. Remove the log from your own eye first and then remove the splinter from your neighbors. The truth is that I will spend my entire life removing my own log and will never have time to concern myself with my neighbors splinters.. Get your own house in order and keep it that way. Don’t worry about the pope or the Church because Jesus said, “No weapon forged against you shall prosper.” Keep the faith in Jesus baby!

  7. Fr. Mark, I love and respect you. You have a gift for crystallizing the truths of our faith and inspiring us. I have been blessed to experience the love of Christ through you. I love you enough to tell you that I think your accusation against the Pope is hurting your flock (which I gratefully consider myself among) and further divides the church. Our Holy Father deserves better. There has not been one single point of information in this heartbreaking scandal that would ever point to him being an abuser. Ockham’s razor is an interesting theory, but that is all it is. It presupposes that those who apply it can understand the situation in its entirety to rule out the supposedly superfluous. None of us can claim that, only God alone can do that. There are countless reasons why our Pope may not have responded as it seems to us he should ; we do not have facts that have been tested out in any type of court proceedings with cross examinations and a real uncovering of the truth. I realize the Vatican has chosen not to be transparent, and I pray for that day to come. However, in my heart I believe there is far more going on behind the scenes that we can be aware of, and there may be valid reasons for that that other than a continued cover up. This scandal has given us plenty to be heartbroken about, let’s not add to it by accusing the Holy Father of something so horrific, without merit and based on a philosophical argument. We need to pull together and love and pray for our church, and not try to further divide her. We need you inside the church, helping to heal and rebuild her. With my prayers and love.

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