18th Anniversary

McCarrick ordination

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.

mlk birmingham jail cellI 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.

13 thoughts on “18th Anniversary

  1. Fr Mark-I am so disheartened by the treatment you have received. I pray that Gods will be done and this trial you are going through will strengthen you and the ministry you will have on the other side. You are a good priest. The people of the church stand behind you even if the leadership doesn’t . Prayers
    And God bless.

  2. While I do not agree with everything you have said in the past, I am saddened to see how your bishop has been treating you. Saddened but not surprised. I have seen many good priests forced out by their bishop and I have witnessed priests who do not even believe in God, continue to practice. You can fight it, but you can’t win. If the bishop doesn’t want to assign you to a parish, he won’t. Even if Rome saids he should. Prayers for you to make peace with an unjust situation.

  3. Father Mark, I can only imagine the pain that Bishop Knestout and the hierarchy of the church have put you through the past two to three years. I pray for you daily and ask the Holy Trinity to change their hearts so that you may remain a Priest. After all, the Bible says ‘once a Priest, always a Priest in the line of Melchizedek”. I am so sad that you alone have the conscience,strength,and compassion for the many abused youth and seminarians that McCarrick damaged. And this most certainly includes you. May the Lord Bless and keep you and your dear mother safe.

    Ann Gunter

  4. It’s a Very touching story, it really is, may the dear Lord watch you and protect you 🙏 every day.

  5. i pray that you will have some kind of recourse with the Vatican and I will also pray that you will NOT be forced to be laicized. I HOPE and PRAY that an orthodox and honest Bishop will welcome you and others into his Diocese.(Tyler TX, Lincoln,NE or others.
    The Holy father and your Bishop need prayers

  6. I would like to know more about Bishop Barry’s being “apparently in-the-know about the cover-up.” Is there a past blog post or link?

    But apart from that, does Bishop Barry not understand that ALL clergy, including himself, who had ANY association with McCarrick have a HUGE question-mark hovering over their heads concerning their legitimacy? For everyone will want to know THE $64,000 question–whether subordinate colleagues like Bishop Barry only received their bishopric, archbishopric, or other promotion or post in exchange for perpetuating the code of silence and cheating McCarrick’s victims out of an earlier, and thus more effective, day in court?

    Of course, somebody could say this about Fr. Mark as well, and suggest that, hey, maybe McCarrick ordained him only in exchange for silence about McCarrick’s sins. That would be an in-bounds accusation I think, but it wouldn’t hold water because Fr. Mark is doing exactly what one would expect an innocent man to do who’s had the integrity of his position questioned–spell out everything you ever knew in great detail in a public forum, putting on the record what you knew and when you knew it. Father Mark’s blog is an honest attempt at this necessary step, and any of his flock can have confidence in him when they plainly see from the blog that this guy knew nothing and that he’s just as angry as they are.

    But Bishop Barry needs to do the same thing if he ever wants the cloud of suspicion to lift from his bishopric. And not just legalistic, narrowly-worded statements like his 2018 letter. (I cringe when I hear things like “Throughout the time that I was in Washington…,” which constrict the time range of his denial.) He needs to tell everything he every knew about McCarrick and when he knew it. He needs to ask aloud how he could have missed any sign of such grievous sins. He needs to recount his own interactions with McCarrick, for it is certain he saw a side of the ex-cardinal the public didn’t and so we could benefit from his experience. This would help us see more clearly what kind of man McCarrick is/was, and how such types operate so that we can better detect one in the future. In short, Bishop Barry needs to do all the same things he’s persecuting Father Mark for doing.

    And not to pick just on Bishop Barry; the lay faithful must demand a similar exercise in frankness from EVERYONE ever associated with McCarrick, from the Bishop of Buffalo, to the other priests of ADW and of Newark, all the way back to the first priests he ordained for newly-minted Metuchen. Nobody will have any faith in the integrity of ANY of these ministers until they also follow Father Mark’s righteous lead and put their own experiences on the public record for all to see.

  7. OK, thanks for the link. I still might think “apparently in the know” is a little strongly-worded. I’m just looking out for you, buddy; my point is there’s already a very strong motivation for Bishop Barry et al. to tell what he knows without you having to stick your neck out too far and risk “reviling the high priest” and have to take it back the way even St. Paul did.

    I see this like the Jeffrey Epstein situation. Everyone knows the people photographed with him at his mansions or on his planes have lots of explaining to do. Even if they’re totally innocent, out of basic decency and respect for the victims, the Clintons and Stephanopouloses of the world need to detail the nature of their relationship with the man on the public record. If they do so and their stories check out, people will trust them, for everyone knows there are bad apples. But if they don’t do this, people will cautiously infer they are hiding something and treat them as pariahs, also out of decency and respect for the victims. And this is the point, fairness to victims DEMANDS that we question such people as you are doing to Church leaders. Now, such people deserve fairness too, and in fairness to Epstein’s buddies, it’s not at all odd for a billionaire like Bill Gates to be photographed with a man who manages wealth for billionaires. Even in Prince Andrew’s case, it’s not odd that a man accustomed to lavish luxury his whole life would want to spend his time Stateside in a lavish, luxurious mansion. But the onus is now on them to convince the world their relationship was innocent–the court of public opinion doesn’t put the burden of proof on the prosecution. Until they do, who would entrust any earthly endeavor to any of these men?

    It’s similar with McCarrick’s associates and colleagues. Who can now entrust their spiritual welfare to any of these men, especially when so many obfuscate things by speaking through their legal teams? It may well be that Bishop Barry just HAPPENED to be hand-picked out of a humble parish to be the bishops’ [sic] secretary, promoted to vicar, elevated to auxiliary in a very important archdiocese, and then placed in the country’s most beautiful cathedral. It could well be he’s just had a charmed life. But if this is what happened, it’s in his OWN interest to detail honestly and openly the whole story of his dealings with and knowledge of McCarrick, starting with the beginning of his priestly vocation in the seminary. He has to do better than, “Throughout the time that I was in Washington…,” as if we can’t see right through that trick. If he’s truly innocent he should be righteously angry that his legitimate rise up the Church’s hierarchy through talent, fidelity, and hard work is now at risk of being tarnished merely by his chance and unlucky association with a reprobate. But if this is how he feels, it’s awfully odd for him to be so vicious in his attacks on a fellow cleric who merely feels the same way.

    Until he comes perfectly clean about all his dealings with McCarrick, maybe even in a blog of his own, he and McCarrick’s other associates cannot reasonably demand the level of trust that Catholics need to place in their bishops. Does he think all this will just go away somehow? It’s just going to get bigger with time. And if his laicization stunt succeeds, it will only make you more powerful. Like Obi-Wan.

  8. Knestout’s actions against you are a disgrace to himself, to the Apostles, of whose rank he is an unworthy member through his episcopal consecration, and to whole Body of Christ, the Church. Knestout is apparently involved in the coverup of McCarrick’s sex crimes: this is only plausible reason for attempting to suppress you. May the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on him when He shall ask Knestout to “prepare a full account of your stewardship.”

  9. Not considering whether Bishop Knestout’s actions are just or unjust, what would it have cost you to swallow your pride and obey his request to not blog? Many saints have been rewarded for their obedience in the face of apparent injustice. You are pitting your desire to vent on your blog against your priestly vow. A layman could have addressed the McCarrick issue and Church scandals. As an ordained minister your Christ-given duty was to put aside all other concerns and to administer the sacraments to His people. You have betrayed his trust by your pride.

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