Disturbing 35-Year-Old Echoes


The following quotations come from a series of letters sent to Church officials, beginning 35 years ago. They all came from people who knew that Theodore McCarrick was a criminal…

McCarrick has an attraction to children. I have seen him touching 13- and 14-year-old boys inappropriately. (from a 1986 letter sent to all the Cardinals in the U.S., as well as to the pope’s ambassador to the US, the nuncio)

Civil charges against McCarrick include pedophilia… The charges are substantial and will shatter the American Church. The court of public opinion will question the private morality of all ecclesiastical authorities. (from a 1992 letter sent to the Archbishop of New York)

Though he postures as a humble servant, as an advocate of family life and family values, Theodore McCarrick is actually a cunning pedophile. McCarrick will be exposed for the sick bastard that he is! The reputations of all in priestly ministry are on the line. (from a February 1993 letter sent to the Archbishops of Chicago and New York)

Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct will be revealed. He will be exposed as an ephebophile. (from a March 1993 letter to the nuncio)

McCarrick uses the priesthood for opportunity and access to young boys by ingratiating himself with their families, by openly displaying these fake nephews, by sexually exploiting them while their trusting families genuflect before him. The number of incidents and their occurrence over twenty years foreclose any credible claim of a simple indiscretion or lapse of judgment. His conduct is not ambiguous. He is a consummate sex offender. He is psychologically unfit to serve as a shepherd. Under our penal code, he is a criminal. (from a March 23, 1993 letter to the nuncio)

McCarrick is a pedophile. By saying youths are his nephews, he has facilely explained overnight trysts with them in hotels and in homes of benefactors over twenty years. (from an April 1993 letter to the nuncio)

Bishop McCarrick is a pedophile. Church hierarchy and priest associates have long known of the bishop’s propensity for young boys. Monsignor Dominic Turtora lived with McCarrick at the Metuchen cathedral and knew of McCarrick’s misconduct. He knew the Bishop’s young guests never stayed overnight in guest rooms, but spent the night with the Bishop. (from a August 1993 letter to the nuncio)

Apparently, the authors of the letters were afraid of reprisals if they included their names. In one way or another, McCarrick exercised power over their lives.

The nuncio who received these letters, Agostino Card. Cacciavillan, disregarded them “because they were anonymous and lacked substance.”

These written denunciations of McCarrick that have survived until now–they are only the tip of the iceberg. McCarrick’s victims and their families tried; they tried over and over and over again. Priests who knew the truth tried. They tried to get the leaders of our Church to listen.

They refused to listen.

McCarrick and Gerety
Theodore McCarrick’s installation as Archbishop of Newark, NJ, 1986. Outgoing Archbishop Peter Gerety stands second from the right. (Photo by D.J. Zendler.)

The quotations echo now in a new way, since police have finally charged McCarrick with the crime of sexually abusing a minor.

Thirty-five years after Church authorities first heard about it.

[NB–All the information recounted here about the letters can be found in the Vatican McCarrick Report.]


2 thoughts on “Disturbing 35-Year-Old Echoes

  1. OK, but I get a little worried when I hear, “Apparently, the authors of the letters were afraid of reprisals if they included their names.”

    I suggest this is what Chris O’Leary would call “enabling.” I don’t see that it helps victims to excuse in any way the grown-ups who somehow assuaged their consciences with a mere anonymous letter and no follow-ups.

    If we’re going to stick up for victims, and get them their due justice, we need to hold to account ALL who created the culture in which these pedophiles thrived, including the grown men and women who were afraid to put their names on an accusation of child abuse. I think we can make an exception for victims and maybe even the parents of victims. But outside that, we can’t act like it’s ever acceptable in any way to see child abuse and not take every action possible to expose the perpetrator, make sure potential victims are warned to the hilt, and do everything possible to find those who already have been abused.

    Furthermore, these letter-writers may have had self-interest when choosing anonymity–if they truly saw child abuse and went only to the Church and not police, they might (at least in some jurisdictions) face criminal charges had they John Hancock’ed the letters . At the very best, those who responded to witnessed child abuse with mere anonymous letters were looking out for the Church’s reputation more than the welfare of those kids. Thus they did the same despicable thing for which you’re rightly risking your own neck to call out Church leaders like Law, Wuerl, and even Pope Francis.

    Finally, I contend it undercuts your own case against Bishop Barry to act like their weak anonymity was justifiable in any way. For if you imply that it’s understandable for people who see Church leaders treating victims unjustly to use anonymity and a low profile to keep things just within the Church, then Bishop Barry might well ask you why you haven’t followed their lead like he’s asked of you.

    No, you CAN’T simply sit quiet about the injustices you’re exposing, and the people who saw McCarrick’s predations needed to shout courageously from the rooftop just like you are. Courage, brother!

  2. As an former social worker in child welfare I know how hard it is to take a positive stand. That was always a problem in trying to get backup for complaints re sexual abuse or
    Any other.

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