My Why

McCarrick and James
McCarrick and the young James Grein

On May 24, 2003, Theodore McCarrick ordained me to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. Over a few decades, McCarrick ordained a couple hundred men, including many of my oldest and dearest friends and spiritual brothers.

Turns out: McCarrick should have been in jail. For ruining a large number of young lives. And the hierarchy knew it, and covered it up.

Was James Grein at my ordination Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine? Or John Bellocchio? Or any of the “Nathans?”

Don’t know. But likely at least one of them sat there, among the 2,000 people present. Watching the man who had caused him personal spiritual ruin ordain me and my brother ordinands to the holy priesthood.

For two years I have tried, with all the little brainpower I possess, to see the whole business from that person’s point-of-view. To interpret all the actions of the Catholic hierarchy from James’, John’s, or Nathan Doe’s point-of-view.

McCarrick ordination
McCarrick ordaining me

I have at times lapsed into intemperate rhetoric. I apologize, again, for that. Please forgive me, dear reader.

I will not, however, stop writing my way through this spiritual crisis. Bishop Knestout has accused me of “choosing my blog over my parishes.” I find that wrong and unfair.

The bishop has threatened to suspend me from ministry and seek to have me dismissed from the clerical state. If he suspends me, that will separate me from my parishioners, at least for a time, since I cannot legally disobey a suspension order. My lawyer and I will of course fight such an order, through the canonical process.

But the fact I have to deal with is this: I cannot minister honestly as a Catholic priest if I do not try to connect my mind with the mind of the clergy sex-abuse victim sitting in the pew. I have no choice there.

I was ordained by a predator. Doesn’t make my ordination invalid, of course. And it places no particular burden on anyone else ordained by McCarrick. But for me personally, I have no choice about this.

I wish none of the disturbance we experience as parishes right now. I want only a tranquil life for us all, praising God and making our way to heaven. I am sorry for the offensive things I have written over the years.

But I cannot say that I am sorry for appointing myself James Grein’s amanuensis and running with it. If I were sorry for that, I would have to be sorry for being the Mark White that God made in the first place.

And for that I am by no means sorry, praised be the Lord Jesus Christ.

24 thoughts on “My Why

  1. Im personally glad your not sorry for being the you that God made…. that being you has made you into one of thebes5 priests i know…. while the list of priests i know in person is fairly small after all I only came into the church 14 years ago…social media has allowed me on s9melevel to hear far more… i believe spirituality rocky mount and martinsville are much better having you right where you are. I won5 pretend to have any inkling of the scope of what the bishop is trying to hide… i dobelieve there is something… but in my prayers for you… is the prayers that he will le5 go of whatever that is and cone to his senses… gods peace and my prayers…

  2. Dear Fr. White: speaking as a layman, I can recognize that Benedict XVI’s Letter to the Church (published Apr 10, 2019) was especially intended for you! I understand that you are in the position of “Job.” Job’s sole duty in his circumstances was to perform “a necessary service to the Truth.” I will let Benedict XVI speak for himself:

    “Jesus Himself compared the Church to a fishing net in which good and bad fish are ultimately separated by God Himself. There is also the parable of the Church as a field on which the good grain that God Himself has sown grows, but also the weeds that “an enemy” secretly sown onto it. Indeed, the weeds in God’s field, the Church, are excessively visible, and the evil fish in the net also show their strength. Nevertheless, the field is still God’s field and the net is God’s fishing net. And at all times, there are not only the weeds and the evil fish, but also the crops of God and the good fish. To proclaim both with emphasis is not a false form of apologetics, but a necessary service to the Truth.

    In this context it is necessary to refer to an important text in the Revelation of St. John. The devil is identified as the accuser who accuses our brothers before God day and night (Revelation 12:10). St. John’s Apocalypse thus takes up a thought from the center of the framing narrative in the Book of Job (Job 1 and 2, 10; 42:7-16). In that book, the devil sought to talk down the righteousness of Job before God as being merely external. And exactly this is what the Apocalypse has to say: The devil wants to prove that there are no righteous people; that all righteousness of people is only displayed on the outside. If one could hew closer to a person, then the appearance of his justice would quickly fall away.

    The narrative in Job begins with a dispute between God and the devil, in which God had referred to Job as a truly righteous man. He is now to be used as an example to test who is right. Take away his possessions and you will see that nothing remains of his piety, the devil argues. God allows him this attempt, from which Job emerges positively. Now the devil pushes on and he says: “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.” (Job 2:4f)

    God grants the devil a second turn. He may also touch the skin of Job. Only killing Job is denied to him. For Christians it is clear that this Job, who stands before God as an example for all mankind, is Jesus Christ. In St. John’s Apocalypse the drama of humanity is presented to us in all its breadth.

    The Creator God is confronted with the devil who speaks ill of all mankind and all creation. He says, not only to God but above all to people: Look at what this God has done. Supposedly a good creation, but in reality full of misery and disgust. That disparagement of creation is really a disparagement of God. It wants to prove that God Himself is not good, and thus to turn us away from Him.

    The timeliness of what the Apocalypse is telling us here is obvious. Today, the accusation against God is, above all, about characterizing His Church as entirely bad, and thus dissuading us from it. The idea of a better Church, created by ourselves, is in fact a proposal of the devil, with which he wants to lead us away from the living God, through a deceitful logic by which we are too easily duped. No, even today the Church is not just made up of bad fish and weeds. The Church of God also exists today, and today it is the very instrument through which God saves us.

    It is very important to oppose the lies and half-truths of the devil with the whole truth: Yes, there is sin in the Church and evil. But even today there is the Holy Church, which is indestructible. Today there are many people who humbly believe, suffer and love, in whom the real God, the loving God, shows Himself to us. Today God also has His witnesses (martyres) in the world. We just have to be vigilant in order to see and hear them.”

  3. A storm of thought and commentary swirl in my mind, but this is not the place or the time for much of what I am thinking.

    I have no right to provide advice, your trial is personal but if asked this would be mine.

    I believe a man has to stay true to his beliefs, failure to do so causes internal conflicts that manifest in pain and suffering. These conflicts would reduce you ability to minister fully.

    The tactical choices you make may be questioned, that you have to be true to you character, nature, values, and beliefs should not be.

    Be clear on what victory looks like, what is core; what is not. Be realistic in the costs and impacts where they can be evaluated. Realistic cost benefit analysis can inform your actions and enable you to direct effort to the best value.

    Ask for help, earlier than you would normally.

    Minister as strongly as possible to you congregations, leave no doubt that your challenge is not about performance or impact.

    Remember you are never alone, do not shut out the people who seek to help, comfort, or counsel you.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, may God bless and show you your true path.

  4. Fr. Mark, you should not and must not ever be sorry for choosing to follow God’s leading. You are the man and the priest God made you to be and God gave you the strength and courage to begin this journey and He will see you through. We hurt for you as we see you going through this…and, yes, we hurt for ourselves because we do not want to lose you….we want you to be with us. But we know in our hearts it would not be right for any one of us to ask you to be less than who you are. You are also humble and honest enough to say you are sorry for offensive things you may have written. That to me is a true priest of God. You set the example for us to follow.
    I pray that the Bishop will recognize the best and right path for the Catholic faith, for the people, for you and for himself, is to seek a point of reconciliation between the two of you that allows you to serve your people in these parishes…one that demonstrates to the world what Christian faith can do. Do not misunderstand: I am not suggesting or even thinking that you should give up the path that God is leading you down in order to keep the peace with the Bishop. (Like briteyyez above, I also am concerned that the Bishop is trying to hide something.) You must obey God and what He calls you to do.
    I continue to pray for you without ceasing. May God’s love protect you and lift you up as you go through this. I pray also for the Bishop, that he may hear God’s call and demonstrate to all through his actions that he is a priest of God, serving God, not himself. I pray for myself and others. May God have mercy on all of us.
    Judy Rogers

  5. Father, at the end of the day, it all comes down to this…each of us will stand before our God and be accountable for our actions which must be in service to Him alone. There will be no scapegoating, no finger pointing and none of the ot the other “stuff” that glorifies self. Each of us will stand before Truth. It defies logic why, for what good purpose, has our Church continued toi protect sexual preditors. Your vow of obedience must not be used as an avenue for others to continue the deception that has greatly harmed God’s church. I pray for you daily and believe your only intention is to promote healing. All of us are called to search our souls which are illuminated by the graces of the Holy Spirit. Continue the fight…most of us lack the courage to enter the battle.

  6. Fr Mark, We either stand for the truth or we stand for nothing! So proud of you for standing for the truth. Jesus’s church will not heal until the illness that has entered it is alleviated. Like an infection in our bodies we treat with antibiotics.this illness must be treated with the truth. And until that happens, our church will not heal. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has left me disappointed and empty, especially the way our new bishop has treated you. Shame on him.

    On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 9:25 AM Father Mark White Blog wrote:

    > frmarkdwhite posted: ” On May 24, 2003, Theodore McCarrick ordained me to > the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. Over a few decades, McCarrick > ordained a couple hundred men, including many of my oldest and dearest > friends and spiritual brothers. Turns out: McCarrick should h” >

  7. It is obvious you are greatly loved and respected Father Mark by so many good people. You have an army of prayer warriors that only want you to have peace and the strength to remain true to self and God’s will. May Our Lady of the Rosary intercede and bring about a peaceful resolution for all concerned. Ave Maria!

  8. John R, you write: “The tactical choices you make may be questioned, that you have to be true to your character, nature, values, and beliefs should not be.” With all due respect to you John, this is what has gotten the Church (particularly the bishops and clergy) into this mess in the first place.

    One should only be true to their “self” to the extent that their “self” conforms to the Eternal Logos of God. Imagine a man having a ‘homosexual’ inclination and applying your way of thinking to his circumstances. According to your understanding of Christianity, he will be a good and holy person even if he commits sodomy/fornication on a daily basis. He will be a ‘good’ person because he is ‘true’ to his own ‘self.’ Do you not see the circular logic? It is absurd. This is essentially the spirituality proposed by the likes of: Karl Rhaner; Hans Kung; Cardinal Kasper; James Martin; Thomas Merton; the German bishops conference; etc. This is a diabolical deception. This is not Christianity.

    It is beneficial to the suffering Church to encourage Fr. White to be ‘true’ to Jesus Christ Himself [the Eternal Logos] even if he has to sacrifice his self-centered desires and ideas. We–the laity–need to live this out ourselves too in this day and age by putting aside the practices of contraception, pornography, genital sterilization, cohabitation, etc. The small percentage of laity who knows this needs to hold bishops and clergy accountable for having exalted their own ‘self’ created agendas that oppose Jesus Christ Himself [[This has unfortunately become the norm over the last 60 years in the name of the ‘spirit’ of the Council]].

  9. I am a survivor of clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey. Over fifty years ago from the age thirteen and continuing for three years, I was raped and sexually abused by my parish priest. I left the Catholic Church for forty years. After my husband died in 2013, I felt the need to attend Mass and though I live in Franklin County, I found myself at Our Lady of Nazareth in Roanoke, Virginia. I was frightened to walk into a Catholic Church, yet the moment I walked in the door, I knew I was home. I often tell people that if I were introduced to Pope Francis and Fr. Joe earlier, I might not have been gone for forty years.
    I have and will always fight for transparency and justice for all victims of clergy sexual abuse. I won’t share my very long journey here, I will tell you that the first person I told was my husband when I was forty-nine years old. I have been diagnosed with C-PTSD and while on most days I am fine, when a story breaks, like that of Jean Vanier, I am a thirteen year old girl again.
    I started by saying, I am a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. I moved from victim to survivor because of Bishop Barry Knestout. I attended his Mass of Atonement in Salem, Virginia. His words touched me deeply. If you asked that little thirteen year old girl if she thought a Bishop would ever acknowledge and apologize for what happened to her, she would have answered, “No.” At that Mass, I distinctly heard the voice of God tell me that healing is in forgiveness. Forgiveness is not excusing. Forgiveness is turning the offence over to God. At the end of that Mass, I turned to my friend and told her, “I know what I need to do. I need to have a Mass said for the repose of the soul of Fr. Pedata (my abuser).” And, I did.
    Forgiveness does not mean I have stopped fighting for transparency and justice. Ironically, my last Bishop in New Jersey was Theodore McCarrick. I also felt betrayed by him.
    I think if you truly want to fight for the victims of clergy sexual abuse, and I have no reason to believe you don’t, you cannot be the story. There are ways, other than your blog, to fight this battle. You and I view Pope Francis and Bishop Knestout through very different lenses and that’s okay. Maybe it’s my maternal instinct that wants to tell you there is a better way to do this. This is not about you fighting with a Bishop, yet most people I talk to only see that one issue. My story and James’ story have gotten lost in the headlines. Maybe there is a way to fight this issue without your blog. Maybe this is about losing the battle and winning the war.
    If you are interested in more of my story or want to hear what I as a survivor need, please feel free to contact me at the email address attached to this response.

  10. Dear Mary Helen Christian, God bless you for what you went through. I myself have several close family members whose lives were destroyed because they were molested by priests when as children. My own mother was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and it destroyed her life in the end. I myself have been casually ‘hit on’ by a priest who turned out to be an active homosexual. (Incidentally, I also have PTSD like you, but that was caused by something else entirely). I say these things to let you know that I truly empathize with you. I can understand where you are coming from.

    But I want to let Fr. Mark White know that his blog does not in any way come across at all as being “all about him” as Mary Helen insinuates. In the world and in the Church today a false idea of “humility” reigns. It is the false humility of McCarrick and his many compromised friends within the hierarchy. It is a diabolical, phony humility that is willing to look away and do nothing even while the “little ones” of the Gospel are scandalized and even preyed upon by wolves. This crisis goes much further than “sexual acts of abuse.” Think of the silence and inactivity of ‘most’ bishops while abortion becomes even more normalized by the powers of the world. Think of the silence of ‘most’ bishops (in many cases, it is enthusiastic encouragement!) while men like James Martin S.J. actively leads young people even further into the madness of Relativism and Gnosticism.

    Authentic “humility” is fidelity to a Divine Person–to an Ultimate Meaning and Purpose that creatures do not get to arbitrate. Authentic “humility” is fidelity to Jesus Christ’s teachings–the nice fuzzy ones AND the not-so-nice ones. Only by striving to live according to Christ’s mercy AND justice will any of us creatures be able to respect and love one another in Truth. According to St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, the preeminent virtue of masculinity involves putting one’s manly virility towards defending truth and justice in the structure of the Family. To be frank: the Church needs more spirited men [[both in the clergy and in families]] like Fr. Mark White! There are far too many cowardly, effeminate bishops and fathers who watch as their own ‘children’ are destroyed by poorly-hidden wolves.

  11. Look at all these thoughtful comments. It seems to me you have three “parochi”….St. Francis, St. Joseph, and St. Blogus. Your ministry is immeasurably more conducive to the salvation of souls precisely because of the wide net it casts. There is no substitute for the personal ministry of a priest in his imitatio Christi/in persona Christi. But. The World Wide Web is a net unlike any other. Fish on, Father Mark!

  12. Father, praying for your strength and courage! It is refreshing to know there is at least one priest who seeks the truth and makes it known. There are many of us now who doubt the validity of the current Pope’s election, especially in view of his recent consideration of allowing women to become deacons, among his other non-Catholic views.

  13. Forgiveness is great, but must only come when appropriate.

    And it’s not yet appropriate.

    What survivors need, at the moment, is advocates.

    People who will speak out and fight for us.

    People who understand that Christ is supreme.

  14. Mary Helen,
    I have thought a great deal about your comments before posting this comment. Your story is unfortunately a familiar one at this point in time. I am glad that you found healing at the Mass of Atonement, despite my personal feelings and concern about the Bishop. Your decision to have a Mass said for the repose of the soul of your abuser is a true example of forgiveness and healing.
    I do not, however, agree with your surmise that Fr. Mark is somehow responsible for having become “the story.” Fr. Mark has written courageously to help bring to light sexual abuse crimes and the way they were pushed aside by the hierarchy of the church. He has worked through his blog to have stories like yours made known. As a result his situation with the bishop has now also become news.
    You mentioned “fighting for transparency and justice.” Hopefully no one is trying to silence you. May God be with you in your efforts.

  15. Dear Socrates et all,
    Thank you for your note, but I believe you miss the critical element. Actions. God gave man free will, but expects man to act in a righteous way. Trueness to ones self can be maintained without actions that counter Gods will or laws.
    The compilation of events that results in a person being the way they are do not mean that that person has to act in a way that is counter to good.
    Love the repentant sinner, not the sins.

    Just my humble opinion, your mileage may differ.

  16. Hi John, thanks for replying. Your words of clarification shouldn’t be necessary, but unfortunately they are. We live in a time when the successor of St. Peter is telling worshipers of a Pagan idol to “be true to your selves;” and when being true to one’s “Self” justifies any lifestyle whatsoever [[since the very idea of “Good” is stripped of any content that creatures do NOT arbitrate]] … You get my drift John? This is unfortunately the false ethos that drives our culture. Even among Catholics, the “righteous way” of conversion from sin is hardly ever clearly explained. When young people hear the words that you initially wrote, they will surely understand you to mean that Salvation is a convenient message of ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ no different from what is delivered by the Dalai Lama and Oprah Winfrey.

    This false, anti-christian ethos has everything to do with the ‘lack-of-a-spine’ manifested everywhere by leaders [[males!]] within the Catholic Church. I am referencing the 1960’s Hippie generation of priests who are now in power as bishops. I am also referencing the 1960’s Hippie generation of husbands (lay fathers), at least 90% of whom indulged in “contraception” and other “Self” centered practices before passing the same mindset onto their children.

  17. Cuando denunciamos los crímenes de la institución religiosa muchas personas salen a defensa argumentando que son pocos los sacerdotes malos y muchos los sacerdotes buenos.
    Nosotros creemos que los sacerdotes “buenos” invariablemente son denunciantes, ninguno con un mínimo de ética y congruencia podría avalar su pertenencia a la iglesia de otra manera.
    Así que los sacerdotes “buenos” han renunciado, o son denunciantes enérgicos (con graves problemas de fe) que no les ha importado enfrentarse a la mafia, estos han dejado de ser cómplices, no son “buenos”, son ¡valientes! De estos si que son pocos.

  18. Speck of Dust, are you implying that when Jesus Christ washed the feet of Judas–the betrayer–that the basic demands of common sense and justice upon earth were annihilated? The following scripture seems to contradict your ‘Hippie John Lennon’ version of the Gospel:

    “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things will come, but woe to the person through whom they come! …If your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell” (Mathew 18:6).

    “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Mathew 5:23).

    These passages give the impression that the God-Man does not intend to annihilate the basic demands of common sense and justice here on earth. Am I missing something, Speck of Dust?

  19. One of the things I wish my father had taught me ( he died before I reached puberty, and before I was groomed and then sexually assaulted by a ‘priest’ of the ROMAN catholic church) is this:

    If it looks like a corrupt, criminal organisation and behaves like a criminal organisation, it’s most likely a corrupt, criminal organisation.

    Jesus wept.

  20. I am praying for you. And sending you healing energy. I love this poem, and as I know you liked poetry, I thought I would offer it at this point. There is always something beyond our present contretemps.

    One Art
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

    —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
    the art of losing’s not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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