in the newspaper that Philip Roth grew up reading 🙂
Dispatches from the Ecclesiastical Gulag
#1 attempts to make sense of my “offenses” under Church law (May 15, 2020)
#9 Walter Winchell + the Gas-lit Gulag (August 25)
This Sunday’s gospel reading, from Matthew 16, comes as Part Two of last week’s reading. Hopefully everyone remembers: St. Peter boldly declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Peter made that declaration in the name of the whole Church. He professed our faith. [Spanish]
St. Peter had the clarity and courage to profess that faith, not by his own cleverness or diligence, but by the pure grace of God. Same goes for us: we believe in Christ because the good Lord has given us the grace to believe. A gift from heaven allows us to perceive that Jesus of Nazareth, one of the countless human beings who have walked this earth, and lived, and died: a divine gift allows us to grasp that He is the only-begotten Son of the one, true, eternal, and omnipotent God.
So St. Peter professed our Christian faith, at that moment at Caesarea Philipi. But there’s a big But. At that moment, momentous as it was, St. Peter still had not yet grasped the mission of his Savior, at least not fully.
Peter envisioned the Christ on His throne, but he didn’t know that the throne would be a cross. Peter envisioned the Messiah conquering the power of evil; he didn’t know that Jesus would conquer evil by suffering evil. Peter imagined great glory for himself, as the right-hand man of the King of Israel. But at that moment at Caesarea-Philipi, Peter didn’t realize that being the first pope meant that he would die upside down on his own cross, at the foot of Vatican Hill, 1500 miles away from home.
Peter didn’t understand. So, as we will hear at this Sunday’s Mass, he at first bitterly resisted his Master’s plan to die at the hands of evil men. Later, however, when it all actually came to pass; when Christ went to His execution; when the innocent Lamb silently offered Himself to the Father; when it all happened, just as the prophets had foretold, it did resound in Peter’s heart. Yes, this was the utterly inevitable way. The only divinely-appointed way to bring the mission of the Christ to fulfillment.
If I might, I would like to expand a moment on one thing I said last week. I pointed out this fact. On the one hand, honest pagans throughout the ages have seen immediately that the sacrifice of Christ makes this wrong world right. African Bantus and Huron chiefs in Canada have seen a crucifix, understood that this is the Son of God, Who offered Himself for the whole human race, and have said: “This is my King!” Yet the luminous beauty of Christ crucified has gotten lost in the mind of the Western world. It’s like we Western peoples can’t see the beautiful rose that we hold in our own hands.
Why? Maybe it’s because we won’t face the wrongness of the world–the wrongness which needs to be made right by the one and only Christ.
Now, what exactly is “wrong” with the world? Well, how long do we have? We could list some serious issues. The inescapable one—the one that everyone could agree on, at both political conventions, is this: We will all wind up as a set of rattling bones.
–Gosh, how morbid, Father! The virus and your suspension have gotten to you. Why don’t you watch some Youtube cat videos?
But the honest pagan faces it. Our situation is hopeless. No matter how many cat videos we watch, we will nonetheless die, relatively soon.
And that ain’t right. We don’t want to die. Something is profoundly wrong. Death is 100% certain, but the fact strikes us as altogether wrong.
Christ makes it right. The Christ Who dutifully went to Jerusalem, and suffered greatly, and was killed. The Christ Who lost His life for the sake of love and truth. Christ crucified has reconciled heaven and earth. Christ crucified has made human life right again, made it worth living. Hope springs up for mankind because this champion has won His battle. And He won it in order to share his victory with us.
Thank you, dear reader, for praying that my muse would accompany me with inspiration as I try to write a full account of the past two years. Among other things, the book will include a ‘McCarrick Report’–a full synthesis of the facts the public now possesses.
Over the course of the past ten days, I have emptied the contents of multiple pens onto multiple pads of paper, leaving me with a large ream of scrawl-covered pages, drafts of the first three chapters. I think you will find it interesting reading, once the good Lord sends a publisher.
All this writing has provoked two little reflections I would like to share right now.
I. Walter Winchell had a news radio show during the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s. The late novelist Philip Roth incorporated the real-life Walter Winchell into a novel, and transformed Winchell into a fictional character.
Roth’s The Plot Against America tells the story of a Jewish-American family at the time of the 1940 presidential election. Roth changes the outcome of that election. Instead of Franklin Roosevelt winning a third term in office, the celebrity aviator Charles Lindbergh gets elected president.
I wrote about the novel late in 2018 and early in 2019. Since then, producer David Simon caught Philip Roth before his death and asked for the author’s blessing to turn the novel into a mini-series. You can get the six episodes for a reasonable price on Google Play.
I have seen three of them so far. Simon made some narrative changes that I find regrettable, but he nonetheless manages to do the novel justice.
In the show, the family reads the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper. Your unworthy servant will have an op-ed published in that paper this Sunday 🙂 More on that later.
In the novel, Walter Winchell broadcasts a regular Sunday-evening radio show with political commentary. All the Jews in Newark listen to the show religiously, to understand what is happening in the country.
Lindbergh runs for president on a peace-with-Hitler platform. The war in Europe is not our war! The Jews, with their particular point-of-view, might desire war. But it’s not in the best interest of Americans.
Winchell points out: Is he saying we American Jews are not, in fact, Americans?
In the novel, Winchell risks his life by confronting Lindbergh’s propaganda with ruthless logic. The character ultimately gets assassinated. Winchell’s death proves the accuracy of his warnings about the latent violence hidden in Lindbergh’s rhetoric.
…The propaganda that has animated my Winchell-like zeal is: our Catholic hierarchy’s endless empty promises about “transparency” in cases of criminal sexual abuse by clergymen. The vulnerable marginalized class among us: the victim-survivors. Their own courage moves them to seek an honest reckoning, then they get re-abused by the defensive stonewalling of the bishops and their minions.
Someday soon, you will read all about it in my upcoming book. In the meantime, let’s focus on this: You unworthy Walter Winchell here has not gotten assassinated with an actual bullet (at least not yet), but…
II. Some people use the trendy term “gaslighting” frequently; some people have no idea what the term means; often it’s the same people.
So let’s clarify. Gaslighting involves: Attempting to deceive your victim into feeling guilty for wrongdoing that never actually happened. Generally speaking, the gaslighter can convince the victim of falsehoods because the gaslighter remains sober (or at least claims to), while the victim is drunk. That leaves the victim vulnerable to gaslighting, since his or her own memory can’t correct the disinformation.
But we can use the term in other contexts. Like where the authority of the gaslighter comes not from sobriety during the victim’s drunkenness, but rather from a relationship established by a pious promise of obedience in the Church.
Now, why do gaslighters do it? According to experts, the gaslighter intends to make a victim feel dependent. Gaslighters tend to have an irrational contempt for their victims.
As I have gone back over all the events in detail, I see that Bishop Knestout has gas-lit me for two years. The record shows multiple attempts to make me feel guilty for wrongdoing that never happened.
It began in early September, 2018. The bishop ordered me to remove a post here. I complied. Then I asked the bishop to write me with his reason for the order.
He wrote back, accusing me of two things.
1. Refusing to work constructively with his secretary to schedule a meeting with him, after I requested a meeting. In fact, I never requested a meeting.
2. Breaking communion with the Church by demanding that the pope resign.
But I had never demanded that the pope resign. I had begged him to resign.
In November of last year, Bishop Knestout appeared unannounced at the parish in Rocky Mount. He told me that I had refused repeated requests to come to Richmond to meet with him. In fact, I was still waiting for an answer to an e-mail I had written, asking what he wanted to meet with me about.
When the bishop came to Rocky Mount that day (Nov. 21, 2019), he ordered me to remove my blog from circulation completely. I immediately complied. Three weeks later, I wrote to him, explaining the situation as I saw it and asking him to reconsider. I proposed a compromise.
The bishop never referred to the proposal I made. He and I met in his office two months later. At the meeting, we had no discussion of any specific content of this blog. The bishop compared my writing to “a meal with something in the middle of it that sours it all.”
He insisted that I was “inordinately attached” to writing, and it was “negatively affecting” me. Therefore, “in terms of social media, it should just stop.”
He went on to say, about the criminal sex-abuse crisis, “I know some things are frustrating, that haven’t been resolved. But in your writing the frustration seems to continue and never kind of gets resolved there.”
When the corona led to the cessation of all public Masses, I wrote to Bishop Knestout again. I notified him of my intention to resume communication through the internet, since we no longer had any other way to communicate with people. I asked him kindly to remove his threats to remove me from office.
He never answered. Instead, a week later, he wrote to the parishioners. He accused me of breaking communion with the Church.
He accused me again of refusing to meet with him, even though I had driven to Richmond to meet with him five weeks earlier. He mis-cited a blog post title. He cited the title as “Pope Francis a Heretic.” The actual title read: “Pope Francis a Heretic?”
During Easter week, Bishop Knestout wrote to me. “You have published scurrilous attacks, denigrating the authority of the Church, including the Holy Father and the college of bishops. You have disturbed the peace and good order of the Church, setting aside the notion that everyone is entitled to have their good names left unblemished… It appears your blog is more vital to you than your two parishes.”
On April 18, Bishop Knestout came unannounced to Rocky Mount again, to celebrate the livestream parish Mass. (At that point, no one was allowed in church at all.)
During the Mass, the bishop spoke about me from the pulpit, with his back to me. He told the on-line audience that he and I had an “old wound” between us, and the “canonical process” would sort it out.
It was the first time I ever heard about an “old wound” between us. I have not heard a single word about it since.
At the Mass, Bishop Knestout acknowledged that, according to Church law, I remained the pastor of the parishes until we heard back from the Vatican. Two weeks later, before we heard anything, he suspended my priestly faculties and had me locked out of the parish church and my house.
We heard from the Vatican in June. They dismissed my appeal on a technicality and told me to go to my new assignment. I asked the bishop to restore my faculties, so I could do an assignment. He told me I could not have my faculties back as long as I continued writing here.
A newspaper reporter asked the diocese about my situation. The press office told him that I had refused my assignment.
…According to Medical News Today, gaslighting causes the victim to begin to doubt his or her sanity, causing feelings of confusion and powerlessness. The long-term effects of gaslighting include trauma, anxiety, and depression.
I appreciate your prayers for me. Those prayers have, in fact, worked a miracle. At least right now, I basically feel fine.
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself. [Spanish]
God the Father of mercies.
We did not exist. The seas and rivers did not exist. He took pity on us in our non-existence. He took pity on our unimaginable poverty—the poverty of not even being anything at all. Out of mercy, He made us.
The Father of mercies: He simply gives. Gives life unto peace and blessedness. He stabilizes and fortifies. He sustains everything He has made with His immovable-rock-like steadiness.
We fall short of this. We are like financial records that have not been attentively kept. Or like a marriage that has been neglected. Something—someone—must reconcile us with the Good, with truth and reality and the plan that God has. We’re like old, desiccated brick walls that need pointing, liable to leak and then crack and crumble—unless a stronger and more loving power fills the cracks in us with some solid bond.
The stronger and move loving power? Christ, the Son of God. His sacrifice on His cross effects the reconciliation between God’s pure goodness and us.
The Western world has fallen into a weird spiritual malaise and can’t see the thing that every honest pagan who has ever heard the Gospel has immediately seen. The world, without Christ, languishes in hopeless estrangement from the Creator. But: The world with Christ, with Christ crucified and risen? Reconciled with God.
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself, and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.
The Reconciler, having reconciled the world and God by shedding His innocent blood, pours forth reconciliation from His own Heart. The Holy Spirit of mercy, at work in the world, pointing the desiccated mortar. Finding a miraculous way to balance the ill-kept books.
This is not a zero-sum cosmos, people. That’s the glory of the Gospel. God always has more to give. Christ pours out His Spirit of mercy and reconciliation into the humblest and most apparently innocuous moments.
Okay, time for the quiz. Which text have we studied here so far? God the Father of mercies… Correct! The prayer of absolution in the sacrament of Penance.
We hear all about it in the gospel passage for this Sunday’s Mass. Lord Jesus gave St. Peter and the Apostles the power to bind and to loose. This power abides in the world.
…Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace.
The ministry doesn’t belong to the priest, as if it were in his own power as a man to loosen the sins of his people. No—Holy Mother Church possesses this ministry, because the Lord endowed Her with it.
At this point in my life, all this comes as a somewhat painful reflection. No priest can reconcile a sinner without having the proper authority to do so, delegated by the Church. Bishop Knestout has suspended my authority to do this. The only person I can validly absolve of his or her sins is someone in immediate danger of death. Any other absolution I would give? Not just disobedient on my part; it would not even be the sacrament.
Now, the Church’s law stipulates that a bishop should only revoke a priest’s authority to hear confessions for a serious cause. We priests get ordained to reconcile sinners. Wherever a priest may find himself, that becomes a place where a sinner can return to God’s grace.
Generally we hear confessions in the church, in the confessional. But a hospital room, an airplane, the corner of a factory or a restaurant, a car, a mountainside—all these places can become confessionals, if the need arises. And in the course of the lives of most priests, all these places do become confessionals, at one time or another.
So it hurts, not being able to do what I was ordained to do. When people ask to go to confession, I have to tell them I’m not allowed to help them. I think my brother priests would feel the same pain, if they had to endure this weird deprivation of the authority to absolve sinners.
To this day, I don’t know what ‘serious cause’ Bishop Knestout has in mind. I haven’t taught anything unorthodox. When penitents have sought moral guidance from me, I have always spoken according to the Catechism.
Be all that as it may, at least I can offer my private Masses for the salvation of sinners. And I myself can still go to confession, to another priest, thank God.
The Lord always has a plan. May He sort this all out. May He be merciful to us all.
PS. Bill Wyatt wrote an informative report about our trip to Richmond this past Sunday.
McCarrick Report? Let’s hear from the man himself…
From the Washington Post, April 17, 2002:
McCarrick discussed the [Spotlight] scandal and his recommendations for the church’s response at a luncheon with editors and reporters of The Washington Post. Few other prelates of his rank have spoken so extensively on the issue to the media.
…More than 10 years ago, while he was bishop of Newark, McCarrick said, he was accused of pedophilia “with my own family” in a letter sent to some of his peers in the church hierarchy.
“I immediately did two things,” he said. “I wrote a response and sent it to the nuncio [the pope’s representative in the United States] because I figure everything’s gotta be clear. And then I brought it to my Presbyter Council, the council of priests in the diocese. I said, ‘This is what I got. I want you to know it.’ Because I think light is what kills these things. You gotta put them in light. And then nothing ever happened. He never wrote another letter or anything.”
McCarrick’s spokeswoman, Susan Gibbs, said later that the unsigned letter implied that he had sexually abused his nieces and nephews but it had “no specific allegations, no names, no nothing . . . just rumor.”
After telling this story, the cardinal added, “If there’s any interest with anyone here, I can say I’m 71 years old and I have never had sexual relations with anybody — man, woman or child. And that can go on the record.”
Asked what he thought might be the long-term impact of the scandal on the church, McCarrick predicted that it would “cause a greater openness on the part of all of us, and that has to be good, because the church is supposed to be a family and you can’t have a family if only half the people know what you’re doing. The sunshine should come in.”
Church leaders, he added, “will have to be . . . more open in our financial dealings, more open in our personnel practices, more open in how we train our seminarians . . . I think people are going to look [more closely] now, and they have a right to.”
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick will be among 11 U.S. cardinals going to Rome to meet with Pope John Paul II next week.
I stumbled across this, in my book research. It took me up short.
1. The dishonesty of the man makes you want to spit, then break something, then spit again, then holler like a banshee.
2. The ’02 scandal should “cause a greater openness on the part of all of us. The Church is supposed to be a family, and you can’t have a family if only half the people know what you’re doing.” Church leaders “will have to be more open. People are going to look more closely, and they have a right to.”
3. The Washington Post owes us soul-crushed Catholics an apology, too. For letting themselves get enchanted by the devious imp. The vaunted Post journalists failed abysmally to scrutinize McCarrick’s ’02 prevarications.
When we re-read McCarrick’s patter about what happened in Newark in the early 90’s with the knowledge we have now, something jumps off the page.
He never explicitly denied it. He never explicitly denied what we now know he spent decades doing, to the ruination of many souls.
He denied “having sexual relations” with man, woman, or child. One imagines that this predator defines “sexual relations” in the strictest possible sense. WARNING PG-13 He had his fingers crossed, when it came to: ogling, stroking, fondling, and masturbation.
And it was the abuser himself who called his victims his “nephews.” Excuse me while I barf, dear reader.
“Light is what kills these things.”
Yes it is, you poor devil-twisted soul. Yes, it is.
Please, dear reader, keep praying that my muse will continue to accompany me with gentle kindness in my scribbling. I will share some chapter drafts with you soon.
Enrique Rangel-Rodriguez (aka @EnRanRod) had the idea. Greet the students returning to campus at Virginia Commonwealth University, in front of our cathedral.
We talked to a couple dozen students, we chanted, and we prayed. Mindy did great with the video.
With the Lord’s help, I will write a book. Tentative working title: Ordained by a Predator.
I plan to write five chapters:
1. Summer 2018
2. What I Think Happened with McCarrick
3. The Church We Believe In
4. The Bishop-Knestout Affair
5. “Justice for Father Mark?”
May the good Lord give me two weeks of peace and quiet to write a draft. May He send me a book agent who could help me get it published. (Please let me know, if you know someone.) May He guide my mind and my pen.
Send thoughts and ideas, if you have them. (I may or may not be able to answer, these next couple weeks, but I promise to read any ideas I get.)
This Sunday, we will keep another prayerful vigil in front of the Cathedral in Richmond, beginning at 4:00pm. 823 Cathedral Pl, Richmond, VA 23220.
Please come. We have seats available on vans from Rocky Mount and Martinsville. Call or e-mail Joe Kernan: 540-263-1516 or 276-632-9941 or firstname.lastname@example.org
O God, who crowned the Blessed Virgin Mary with surpassing glory, grant, through her prayers, that we may merit to be exalted with you on high, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son.
(from the Collect for the Vigil Mass of the Assumption)
Happy 12th anniversary of this little weblog ❤️
But she recognized the Son of God when she saw Him. She called Jesus the “Son of David.” In other words, the Messiah, the anointed One. [Spanish]
She prayed to Him, with faith in His power. This was no mere man, not just another wandering rabbi. She knew she wasn’t talking to a simple Jew. She was talking to the God of the Jews, the Creator of heaven and earth.
She believed He is God. So she did not hesitate to humble herself. Faith and humility go together. You cannot separate faith and humility from each other, any more than you can separate peanut butter and jelly or Starsky and Hutch.
Then the Lord put her humble faith to the test a little bit. Let’s imagine the whole scene unfolding not in Palestine, but at our local WalMart. She’s in the baby-food section. He walks by, in his blue vest.
‘Lord, heal my daughter!’
‘Not just now, ma’am. They need me on Aisle 3.’
‘No. Please. Have mercy. She’s tormented by a demon, and I know You are the Lord of all angels and demons!’
Oh, I forgot to mention one detail, in this re-imagined version of the story. The woman comes from Dallas. She’s wearing a Cowboys COVID face mask. She’s begging God for mercy through a Dallas Cowboys mask.
Put yourself in the shoes of the Christ. We know His Heart beats with infinite merciful love. But even if you came to the earth to save sinners, you might hesitate.
The Lord put the woman’s faithful humility to the test. He made her beg. He made her grovel. She had to acknowledge explicitly the superior power and dignity of the One with Whom she spoke.
She did the right thing. No one should ever grovel before a fellow human being. We all have equal dignity in God’s eyes. If someone tried to make me grovel for something really important by insulting my allegiances, by saying something like: ‘Ok, you can have what you ask for. But only if you change your mask for this here New-York Yankees mask.’ In such a situation, you would have to stand up for yourself and resist.
But not with God. He made all the Cowboys fans and Yankees fans; He made all the different fans, in the first place. He holds them all in His sway. He knows better than we do what will do us the most good. Compared to Him, we are literally nothing. He made us out of nothing, to give Him glory by being who He made us to be.
The Lord insisted on this kind of humility from the Canaanite woman. She showed it, in full. He insisted on her humility not because He despised her, but because He admired her.
He saw her zealous motherly love. He saw how her focus on her daughter put everything else into perspective, including herself. She did not let her self, her ego, get in her own way.
‘I know I’m no Jew,’ she thought to herself. ‘I know I don’t have any rights in this conversation. I am begging God for pity, for mercy, for kindness.
‘I’ll carry your price-gun to Aisle 3 for you, Lord. I’ll do anything. Just help me.’
She withstood the test of humility and faith. God said: “Let it be done for you as you wish.”
In the beginning of the world, He had said, “Let there be light.” And there was light, because the light was humble enough to let itself get brought into existence out of nothing, by the infinite power of God.
Now He said to the Canaanite woman, “Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter breathed free. Because the woman knew she was dealing with the same Person, Who had made the light in the beginning. And she prayed to Him accordingly.
Today we have a guest reader for the video version 🙂
(Tenemos lector invitada hoy dia)
Conscientious people recognize that the Church in the United States cannot live Her life in any kind of healthy manner without coming clean regarding the decades-long McCarrick Cover-up.
Catholics and non-Catholics alike realize this. Conservative Catholics and liberal Catholics all realize this.
Two weeks ago, the “conservative” National Catholic Register editorialized about it:
Yesterday, the “liberal” National Catholic Reporter did the same:
When the Register and the Reporter have the same editorial position on something, that’s what you call an “American Catholic consensus.”
Non-Catholics also recognize the imperative. Journalists, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, have helped us by doing thorough investigations.
Two days ago, two reporters in New Jersey published a record of the McCarrick Cover-up. They based their report on extensive research and interviews.
The article comes as a great gift to the Church, helping Her do what the pope and bishops have not had the will or clarity of mind to do.
Here’s a full, easily readable and print-able .pdf file of the article.
It’s a heartbreaking read. But we believe in something called reconciliation. That is, getting the grace of God back, by living in the truth. No one enjoys confessing your sins. But you sure feel lighter when it’s over.
Some quotes and summarizations from the New Jersey Herald article…
In 2002, McCarrick had taken a leadership role among American cardinals, becoming the face of the church as it promised to reform itself in the wake of allegations that bishops had been covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests.
But NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey has learned through interviews and shared documents that McCarrick overlooked abuse allegations made against several priests in the Newark Archdiocese. And the former cardinal is now accused of abusing children himself in three New Jersey lawsuits — including one filed last month alleging he shared children with other priests at the Jersey shore.
In 1997, an aspiring seminarian met with McCarrick to tell him that a Newark priest had sexually abused the young man’s brother and had beaten him. McCarrick promised action. But he did nothing.
So the aspiring seminarian wrote to the Cardinal Archbishops of Boston and Los Angeles, begging them to intervene.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles wrote back:
“Archbishop McCarrick is greatly concerned about all these problems and issues, and I know that you can rely upon him to be attentive to these pastoral needs.”
And the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston:
“Your pain and frustration is familiar to me because I have had to deal with the problem of sexual misconduct by clergy. Pray for the leaders of the Church, that we might do God’s will whenever this awful problem occurs.”
The aspiring seminarian got the message. He told the New Jersey reporters:
It was, ‘this isn’t our problem.’
(Both those Cardinal Archbishops later got exposed as serial cover-up artists. But the one received a Vatican funeral with full honors. The other continues to present himself as an elder statesman of the American Church.)
You may remember my mentioning another priest ordained by McCarrick, who has tried to contribute to the public record, Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo. He spoke with the New Jersey reporters.
Msgr. Figueiredo translated McCarrick’s letters to the Vatican into Italian, so he had a lot of correspondence which shed light on what happened. In late 2018, Figueiredo offered to go over all this correspondence with the current Archbishop of Newark, Joseph Card. Tobin. Tobin refused. Tobin said, “this is not the time to discuss that.”
A few months later, in May 2019, Figueiredo posted some of the letters on a public website. Tobin then attacked Figueiredo for failing to “disclose these grave facts earlier.”
When the New Jersey reporters asked the Newark Archdiocese about this, the press office replied:
“Cardinal Tobin has not seen the contents of the letters to which you refer, and it would be inappropriate to comment on them without seeing them. Information and correspondence publicly released or information still not made public by Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo properly belong to the Holy See to investigate.”
In their report, the New Jersey reporters reproduce one of the McCarrick letters to the Vatican that Figueiredo gave them, from 2008.
McCarrick claimed in that letter what he had told us priests and seminarians of Washington, in 2002: “I have never had sexual relations with anyone, man, woman, or child, nor have I ever sought such acts.”
The courageous testimony of Francis M., reported last month by the New York Times, gives the lie to McCarrick’s claim. Not to mention the previous testimony of James Grein, one-time St. Patrick’s Cathedral altar boy Mike, the Nathans, John Bellocchio, and John Doe 14, among many others.
The New Jersey reporters also include the disclosures of Father Boniface Ramsey, which you read about here almost two years ago.
Father Ramsey tried to blow the whistle on McCarrick the day after the Vatican announced that he would be the new Archbishop of Washington. In December 2000, Ramsey called, and then wrote to, the Apostolic Nuncio to the US.
Ramsey told the New Jersey reporters: “They knew about it. They didn’t do anything.”
The reporters conclude with Michael Reading’s painful story, which Elizabeth Bruenig told two years ago, while she still worked at the Washington Post. McCarrick abused Reading at the now-infamous Sea Girt NJ beach house.
He went to an upstairs bedroom to change and said McCarrick stood there watching. He finally realized the prelate wasn’t going to leave until he changed into his bathing suit. Later, on the beach, he said McCarrick stuck his hand under Reading’s swimsuit in front of other seminarians. He said they didn’t talk about it and he didn’t know what to do.
The New Jersey reporters add details about what happened after Michael Reading reported the abuse. (This part is a little confusing, because it involves two men named Reading, who are not related. McCarrick abused Michael Reading, who then reported it to Ed Reading, a priest of a neighboring diocese.)
The Rev. Ed Reading, a priest of the Paterson Diocese, was alarmed when the seminarians told him they felt pressured into sharing a bed with McCarrick and having to undress in front of him… Reading reported it to his bishop, who indicated he would contact the Vatican’s U.S. representatives.
“Something had to be done,” said Reading, who now works as a substance abuse counselor outside of the Paterson Diocese. “It’s emotional abuse and it’s a power problem.”
About two weeks later, Newark priests told Reading that church officials made an unannounced visit to the archdiocese, apparently to clamp down on use of the beach house. It was perhaps the first attempt to curtail McCarrick’s activities. But like some other actions later taken by priests and church officials, there were either no consequences or they were fleeting, as McCarrick took seminarians to the shore home for years afterward.
The New Jersey reporters missed one important source of information, the Italian book Il Giorno del Guidizio, which I summarized for you in November 2018. I wrote to the New Jersey reporters yesterday, to alert them to this additional source of information.
Because they don’t know the book, the New Jersey reporters write:
The allegations against McCarrick remained an open secret in the church even after the Newark Archdiocese and Metuchen Diocese paid two seminarians to settle claims against him in 2005 and 2007… McCarrick retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese in 2006, when he turned 75, the Vatican’s required age of retirement. It is not known whether his departure was connected to the payouts.
It actually is known that McCarrick’s departure from Washington came so suddenly because of the payouts. A Vatican official spoke off the record about it, back in the fall of 2018. The official revealed this chain of events:
McCarrick turned 75 three months after Benedict XVI became pope.
Years earlier, while he was still Card. Ratzinger, Benedict had concluded that McCarrick posed a danger to the good name of the Church. The Vatican became aware of the first McCarrick settlement in December 2005, apparently.
The pope then rushed the replacement process for McCarrick. (Healthy sitting Cardinal Archbishops usually remain in office until age 80.) Donald Wuerl became the new Archbishop of Washington well before McCarrick turned 76.
Then the McCarrick-retirement phase of the cover-up began. The details of that phase, once they all come to light, will likely serve to explain why your unworthy servant languishes in unjust suspension from ministry.