Happy Friday, Mother-Cabrini 13th.
The pope declared her to be in heaven 82 years ago today.
I present my literary analysis of the Vatican McCarrick Report…
On the one hand:
The report contains testimony about McCarrick’s crimes, testimony that never saw the light of day until now. This testimony adds to the picture already painted by other survivors.
Now that the Vatican has published this report, other heretofore-silent survivors will speak out. I received a phone call yesterday from one such survivor, a one-time seminarian, who had never before spoken to anyone about what McCarrick did to him. Just talking to each other made us both feel better.
On the other hand:
It is perfectly clear that the Vatican did not publish this report to contribute humbly to the public record. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
The Vatican report does not explain McCarrick’s canonical conviction. This report has only a brief summary of the testimony gathered in that process, and the public has no access whatsoever to any of the underlying evidence.
The process by which McCarrick faced justice in the Church remains completely opaque. None of James Grein’s public testimony appears in this report, nor does the testimony of “Mike” (the boy whose penis McCarrick fondled in the St. Patrick’s cathedral sacristy), nor the testimony of any of the “Nathans.” [It appears that Nathan Doe will have more to say, and I very much look forward to reading it.]
My point is: We cannot see the Vatican report as an honest attempt at “transparency.” It is a work of propaganda, produced by an unstable regime, aimed at regaining some of its long-lost credibility.
The Vatican report relies on sources that remain 100% secret. There is no way for anyone to check the accuracy of the report against its sources of information. The report has 1,410 footnotes, but those footnotes do not serve the purpose of footnotes in respectable publications.
A footnote in a respectable publication gives the reader the opportunity to check the accuracy of a clam that the author makes. In the Vatican McCarrick report, only a tiny portion of the cited sources are available to the public.
I am by no means dismissing this report out-of-hand. It contains a great deal of information, which I intend to study very carefully and write about in a series of subsequent posts. I do not think that the report is patently false. Not at all.
The few cup-fulls of truth, however, have been dipped out of a huge swamp of total secrecy. And those cup-fulls of truth have been dipped to serve a clear purpose. Namely, shoring up the power of a teetering corrupt regime.
We believe in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, founded by the Lord on the rock of St. Peter. Pope Francis is the legitimate successor; he is the pope. We can hold these truths while simultaneously recognizing that many of the incumbents in ecclesiastical office right now are dishonest, self-serving cronies.
A skillful lawyer produced the Vatican McCarrick report. Lawyers serve clients. This lawyer served his client well. He produced a document that contains true information arranged in such a way as to reinforce the prevailing myth that keeps the current cronies secure in their self-righteousness.
The myth is: “We are dutifully fixing an old problem, for which we are not really responsible. Things were bad before ’02, but we have steadily improved the situation since then. Things are better now in the Church. Don’t blame us.”
It would appear that the sole aim of the report is to shore up this self-assurance of the incumbent cronies. They certainly need shoring-up in their self-assurance: In any honest organization, they would have resigned in disgrace long ago.
But re-assuring the cronies in their self-righteousness does not do any of the rest of us any good. The episcopal hierarchy of the Catholic Church has lost its credibility completely. This Vatican document does nothing to restore that credibility. It actually tarnishes it further, for two reasons…
First, the obvious one: The Vatican report contains appallingly embarrassing material. For decades, the bishops and the pope were utterly deaf to cries for justice. Those cries were insistent and convincing for thirty years, and the prelates of our Church ignored them.
The report reinforces with concrete details what I have written about the dishonesty of Pope Francis, Donald Card. Wuerl, and Archbishop William Lori. All three had written evidence in their hands, evidence of the danger McCarrick posed. They turned away from it. They justified themselves with excuses that now look utterly ridiculous, considering the magnitude of the damage that McCarrick has done.
As someone who strives to be a conscientious human being, I am profoundly embarrassed to be associated in any way with these three men, and with their cronies. The report reveals the three of them to be the cowardly, careerist apparatchiks that many of us have known them to be for years. (This goes for the pope-emeritus, also.)
Secondly, even though the report reveals all this, it nonetheless reaches an evidently self-serving and mendacious conclusion, exonerating all the incumbent office-holders.
This fact raises the question: What information does the report withhold? We cannot know, since the Vatican is as “transparent” as a brick wall, and this report is no exception. The report could be a pure tissue of lies, for all we know. The ecclesiastical cronies continue to guard all their secrets with an iron fist.
I leapt with surprise when I read McCarrick himself quoted at length, beginning with footnote 245 on page 55. He apparently submitted to extensive interviews for the report. The report discloses absolutely nothing, of course, about how the interviews were done. Under oath? With a lawyer present? We do not know.
McCarrick has claimed that he never got an adequate opportunity to defend himself against the charges leveled against him in his canonical trial. Those charges were leveled by a secret Church prosecutor, we assume. But do not know.
The preposterous fact of the matter is: McCarrick may very well be right about that. He may not have been given due process and a fair trial. His contention to that effect is reasonable enough, given the time-frame in which he was convicted. This Vatican report does absolutely nothing to resolve that question.
The even-more incredible irony is: That has been the problem all along. A Church prosecutor should have tried and convicted McCarrick, in open court, thirty-five years ago. But this mafia of obtuse narcissists does not know how to do anything like that. They did not know how to do it when Ronald Reagan was president, and they do not know how to do it now.