Praised be the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eighteen years ago today, then-Cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick ordained nine of us as priests, sacred ministers of the holy mysteries of Jesus Christ, chaste and loving.
At the ceremony, we all promised to respect and obey the bishop. Over the course of the ensuing years, McCarrick gave me my first three parish assignments. I gladly did his will.
But [PG-13] if he asked me to play with his penis, should I have obeyed?
The Cardinal was a criminal. For decades he abused his power as a priest, then as a bishop, to obtain cheap sexual gratification for himself.
In May of 2006, right after he gave me one of the happiest assignments I have ever had, McCarrick suddenly announced his retirement. He was evidently able-bodied and vigorous. Something weird was going on.
Turns out that the highest authorities in the Church were working behind the scenes to cover-up McCarrick’s crimes. My own current bishop, Barry Knestout, was apparently in-the-know about the cover-up.
It was an institutional deception piled on top of a criminal betrayal. When we learned the truth, over a decade later, many of us experienced intense anger and pain. I will spend the rest of my life trying to deal with the effects of this betrayal of my trust in Church leadership.
We priests do our best to obey. But we are also baptized and confirmed Catholic Christians, who have to prepare ourselves for judgment by God, just like everyone else.
We’re human beings. We’re not trained monkeys.
Last year, Bishop Knestout assigned me as prison chaplain for the diocese. I could not undertake the assignment because…
1. The pandemic has prevented prison ministry for the past year.
2. Bishop Knestout suspended my priestly faculties shortly after giving me the assignment.
A local businessman here recently offered to purchase a building for me to set up an independent church. “Father, people will come from all over!”
This kind, well-meaning Christian has the necessary money. But I do not have the will to do such a thing. I believe in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, governed by Pope Francis, and all the bishops in communion with him.
I obey my suspension and celebrate Mass in the company of just the Lord, the angels, and the saints. Today my Mass will be for Theodore McCarrick, that he might get to heaven somehow. The pope kicked him out of the priesthood two years ago.
I wrote my bishop last month, asking him if we could try to find a compromise about this blog, so that I could undertake the assignment he gave me last year, before he suspended me.
He wrote back, insisting that I would never have an assignment. He urged me to ask the pope to remove me from Holy Orders. Then he quickly wrote again, informing me that he had asked the pope to laicize me. So I could wind up just like the former Cardinal who ordained me. Seems strange, since McCarrick abused people, and I just wrote about it.
Every priest I know finds Bishop Knestout’s petition breathtakingly unbelievable. Especially when you consider that there are convicted criminal pedophile priests alive and well today, who have never been laicized.
I do not know what my bishop has sent to Rome. I have asked for more information, and for a chance to understand the rationale and defend myself.
In his letter to me, Bishop Knestout referred to my “persistent disobedience.” He says I should be kicked out of the priesthood for a failure to honor my promise to obey. He has ordered me to shut up about all this. I have not done so.
Can’t we keep this in mind here, please: I made my promise of obedience to a criminal, a criminal that everyone in a miter covered-up for.
I’m doing my best here. I really am, all things considered.
How about cutting a suffering dude a break? I will happily minister to the incarcerated criminals.
After all, a criminal ministered the holy priesthood to me, eighteen years ago today.
Holy Virgin, help of Christians and Mother of the Church, pray for us who have recourse to you.