New Commandment of Charity

Charles Bosseron Chambers Sacred Heart of Jesus

At Holy Mass today, we read:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)

Some points on this, from the Catechism

1. Charity = love God above all things, and love my neighbor as myself, for the love of God.

2. We learn what charity is from Jesus. He showed the divine love by loving His own chosen ones to the end. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

3. We must love our enemies.

4. “Charity is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful, not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

5. Charity makes a Christian a child of God. We obey Him not out of fear, or for the sake of some short-term gain, but because we love Him as our Father.

6. Divine love makes us joyful, peaceful, and merciful. Also generous and friendly. And willing to correct others.

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Love Your Enemies: Two Dangers

greco_christ-traders-temple

Love your enemies.

The Lord has commanded us to love our enemies. Seems like we face at least two dangers when it comes to obeying this command. [Spanish]

1. What if I’m such a coward that I don’t have any enemies? How can I do good to those who hate me, if nobody hates me, because I don’t stand for anything?

When our Lord Jesus walked the earth, many people loved Him. And many people hated Him. He had friends. And He had enemies. How did the Christ of God make His enemies?

Remember when He drove the money-changers from the Temple? It made His disciples think of a verse from Psalm 69. Zeal for your house will consume me.

The zeal of Jesus Christ. He made bitter enemies because: Zeal for true religion consumed Him. He would stop at nothing to keep open the path of humble and honest communion with God. He showed untiring patience and tender gentleness. But He also showed fiery contempt for anyone who would block the path of true religion.

He loves every soul. But the honesty and humility that a soul needs, in order to live in friendship with God—that kind of honesty and humility does not come naturally to us sinners. We are much more inclined to proud hypocrisy. Christ made enemies precisely by denouncing that proud hypocrisy.

The_Head_of_Christ_by_Warner_Sallman_1941So “love your enemies” means: make some enemies. If I don’t have any courage or any zeal for God, I will inevitably wind up a party to something corrupt. I will just “get along” to the point where I lose myself. I will become a crippled nothing, languishing in the half-realization that I have betrayed my conscience. For short-term peace. So many times that I hardly know how to examine my conscience anymore.

The Lord said: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth… I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Following Christ’s path of principled consistency divides us from others. We can’t make friends with sin or with any kind of spiritual mediocrity.

Ok. But there’s another danger, when it comes to Jesus’ command that we love our enemies. Mistaking friend–or even potential friend–for enemy. In other words, “love your enemies” also means: Whatever you do, do not define yourself by what you hate.

Yes, hopefully we hate sin. Hopefully we hate ignorance and malice. But our hatred of evil doesn’t make us who we are. Our love for God, and for His people, makes us who we are. And that requires that I constantly grow as a person, allowing God to expand my soul.

By sending His Son to live among us, and die at our hands, and conquer death for us, God has extended His loving hand to every human being. He wills to save sinners, not condemn them. God wills only goodness and life for His creatures.

When we follow the path that Christ followed, the path of universal love—even loving our enemies—then we grow. We expand ourselves. And, by God’s grace, sometimes we turn enemies into friends.

So while we must hate sin and evil, none of us grow by hating. We grow by loving holiness and knowledge, loving the beautiful goodness of God, and loving my neighbor for God’s sake.

This, of course, requires enormous humility. And careful prudence. Let me listen carefully to what everyone says, waiting till last to speak myself. Let me try to find a way to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

And let me remember always that I am certainly every bit as obstinate and difficult as the person who annoys me the most. Let me be patient with everyone, as I hope everyone will be patient with me. Which means being patient with myself, too, of course.

Love your enemies. I think we imagine this is enormously difficult. But it’s actually considerably harder than that.

I must have the courage to reject any compromise that betrays God’s love, otherwise I won’t have the right enemies in the first place. But I must also have the humility to acknowledge: I have an awful lot to learn about God’s love.

No way we pull this off, both zeal and humility. At the same time. Unless we receive heavenly aid.

But that’s why we frequent the church. That’s why we go to confession and to Mass.

Help us, Lord, to make the right enemies. Then give us the humility to love them enough to turn them into Your friends.

Adam and Eve on Valentine’s Day

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Leave it to the good Lord.

By pure happenstance of the Lectionary: We read at Holy Mass on Valentine’s Day about God putting Adam and Eve together in the garden. Because “it is not good for man to be alone.” God told us: be fruitful and multiply. Which means men and women falling in love, exchanging Valentines, getting married, and having families.

Which came first? Mankind or the other animals?

Holy Scripture does not exactly answer this question. But the order in time matters much less than the order in being.

We human beings, alone among the animals, can conceive of the world as a whole, as God does. We alone can give distinct names to all the various parts of the world, the creatures that make up God’s creation. Alone among the animals, we form a spiritual bridge between the earth and the mind of God. The marriage of a man and a woman gives us a visible image of the union between God and mankind brought about by the God-man, Jesus Christ.

We know that the pro-abortion, “pro-choice” position betrays the truth. One way you can tell: the very euphemism that the pro-abortion movement chooses for itself. “Reproductive rights.”

Algae “reproduce.” Plants, bugs, other animals—they “reproduce.” Human beings marry. Human beings have families.

If you use words that apply to lower creatures to defend your position when it comes to human beings, you can be sure that you have strayed into a territory where violence reigns. “Reproductive rights” is a phrase from Orwell’s 1984, a mask to cover over systematic bloodshed.

On the other hand: Love. Marriage. Family.

That is the way that God gave to mankind, in the garden, before the Fall. The original gift of God—love, marriage, and family–makes Valentine’s Day happy.

The Border Wall is Illegal

Walk the Border

No one asked me who TIME Magazine’s Man/Person/People of the Year should be. But if they had, I would have said: Isn’t it obvious? Tenny Ostrem and Claire Wernstedt-Lynch.

They started walking a year ago at Friendship Park in San Diego, California. They walked the entire US-Mexico border. They reached the Gulf of Mexico in August.

Two thousand miles, the same length as the Appalachian Trail. (That’s where they met, the two brave young ladies–hiking the Appalachian Trail a few years ago.)

…Some American Catholics cling to an “it’s all about respect for the law” position, when it comes to US-Mexico immigration.

This school of thought, as I understand it, runs like this:

“I am no racist. But I believe in respect for the rule of law. Would-be immigrants to the US must abide by our laws. If they enter the country ‘illegally,’ we have the right to deprive them of their liberty and deport them.”

Similar line of thought, when it comes to the military action ordered by the late, lamented George H.W. Bush in 1991:

“We Americans believe in the territorial integrity of sovereign states. Saddam Hussein violated international law by attempting to annex by force the neighboring sovereign nation of Kuwait. Therefore, the USA legally and rightly made war against Iraq, to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.”

Makes sense because: The territorial integrity of sovereign states is one of the fundamental principles of international law. Our own assertion of the right to deport “illegal aliens” is based on that very principle.

Problem is: The current US-Mexico border is the legacy of a gross violation of that legal principle.

Mexico City occupation by US

This has everything to do with Our Lady of Guadalupe, because the treaty establishing the current border was signed, under duress, in the shadow of the basilica housing St. Juan Diego’s tilma.

And it has everything to do with human rights and morality since we, the United States of America, re-imposed slavery in Texas by annexing it and taking it away from Mexico. We took Texas away from the country that had abolished slavery there in 1829–nearly four decades before we abolished it.

Yes, this is what I am saying: The USA does not have a legitimate claim to the current US-Mexico border. The current border is not legal, according the principles of morality and international law. It is simply the result of the disproportion of military strength between the USA and Mexico 170 years ago.

Christians believe in the rule of law. We do not believe that might makes right. Therefore, we have to recognize that the USA does not have the right to build walls or use military or paramilitary force along the Rio Grande/Sonora Desert/San Diego border.

If we want the rule of law to prevail, we should insist that the US-Mexico border be the subject of bi-lateral negotiations, facilitated by a disinterested mediator. Such negotiations could result in a confrontation with the wrongs of the past, and could lead ultimately to reconciliation and peace.

On the other hand, the position of the current presidential administration with respect to that border does not have a genuine legal or moral basis. We Catholics cannot legitimately appeal to a “rule of law” justification for supporting the border policies of the Trump administration.

Shunning Romanità

Fr. Boniface Ramsey

Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God… So do not be associated with them… Live as children of light. (Ephesians 5:5-8)

Impurity and greed involve idolatry. The Catechism explains:

Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and serves a creature in place of God [2113]. In his original sin, man preferred himself to God. He chose himself over against God, against the requirements of being a creature of God… Man wanted to ‘be like God,’ but without God, before God, not in accordance with God. [358].

Do not be associated with such idolatry, insists St. Paul. In other words: shun sin; shun sinners; preserve the integrity of your witness to God.

Two points on this:

1. I could shun wrongly. That would involve idolatrously worshiping my own self-righteousness. So when it comes to shunning anything or anyone, let me always preserve romanità.

What does that mean? Romanità means having a universal, cosmopolitan outlook. Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Assume I have fellowship in Christ with everyone. Never interest myself in another person’s sins unless I absolutely have to.

2. Today Fr. Boniface Ramsey—the original Theodore McCarrick whistleblower—published a lucid summary of what he knew about McCarrick and when, and what he did about it.

One thing in particular that moved Fr. Ramsey to action: Seeing other bishops—men who knew that McCarrick had preyed on seminarians–seeing them graciously and fraternally interact with McCarrick at the altar at major Masses, like big funerals, etc—seeing them interact with McCarrick and not shun him.

How can you men of God and successors of the Apostles not shun this man, knowing what you know? That thought moved Fr. Ramsey to act, to write, to pester the hierarchy. May God reward him for it.

In sum, then: Without romanità, we risk becoming unkind and self-righteous. But too much romanità, and we become: Compromised in our integrity.

Lord, help us to know when not to shun. And when to shun.

Forty Years Ago Today

Pope John Paul II: His Remarkable Journey

Pope St. John Paul II began his ministry as the pope. Over the course of the ensuing quarter century, many of us came to revere John Paul II as a hero and a spiritual father.

During the 1980’s, when I was in high-school, some of us held on to the pope for dear life. It seemed like he alone, on the whole face of the earth, offered a brave witness to sexual sanity, to chastity–while everyone else was awash in condoms and broken marriages.

Many of us spent the 90’s reading John Paul II’s writings. He consumed himself with teaching the faith inherited from the Apostles. He traveled the world and used the power of his reverberating voice and magnetic charm to evangelize.

Technocrats and feminists hated his intransigence on artificial contraception, abortion, divorce, and the men-only ministerial priesthood. Political and aesthetic conservatives hated his rejection of the capitalist profit motive and his embrace of Vatican II.

But in the middle, we vast multitudes of spiritual children listened eagerly to the man we loved as a trustworthy father. A lot of us wept more bitterly on the day that he died than we had since we were babies. Mainly because we knew we wouldn’t hear the sound of his voice on earth again.

Looking back now with 20/20 hindsight, we can wish that JP II had applied himself more to the reform of the Roman Curia. We can wish that he had understood the sex-abuse crisis better–understood it more as a practical matter, rather than as a purely spiritual one.

st john paul ii

And we can recognize: The way Popes Paul VI and John Paul II defined the Roman papacy after Vatican II left a huge gap in authority. That gap has now brought the Church to the point of paralysis.

Bishops need a disciplinarian, too—just like priests, seminarians, doctors, nurses, accountants, lawyers, bricklayers, school children–everybody needs a disciplinarian. But the world’s Catholic bishops don’t have one. The whole post-Vatican II system of Church governance assumes that bishops will do right. But, as we now know all too well, often they do not.

So St. John Paul II had human faults, blind spots—which we did not want to see, as we listened to him heroically urge us on to holiness.

But let’s go back to October 22, 1978, to what he said in his homily that day. His words resonate today with even more force than they had then.

Our time calls us, urges us, obliges us, to gaze on the Lord and to immerse ourselves in humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself…

The absolute, and yet sweet and gentle, power of the Lord responds to the whole depths of the human person, to his loftiest aspirations of intellect, will and heart. It does not speak the language of force, but expresses itself in charity and truth.

The new Successor of Peter in the See of Rome today makes a fervent, humble and trusting prayer: Christ, make me become and remain the servant of your unique power, the servant of your sweet power, the servant of your power that knows no dusk….

Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ… Christ knows ‘that which is in man.’ He alone knows it.

…Man does not know that which is in him, in the depths of his mind and heart… He is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you, therefore, we beg you with humility and with trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of life eternal.

Non-Political Truths of Marriage

weyden_matrimony1A marriage is a marriage because a man and a woman make vows to God. Getting married is, fundamentally, an act of faith in God. And getting married always involves not just the two individuals, but also their families, the children the Lord pleases to give them, and all the people who will relate to them thenceforward as a married couple. [SPANISH]

The idea that the laws of marriage could ever be the subject of political dispute? Marriage as a political hot potato? That strikes us Catholics as strange and shallow. Marriage is not a “political issue.” Marriage is what Jesus Christ said it is: 1. God made us male and female. 2. A man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh. 3. What God has joined together, let no man separate.

Marriage is not “political.” It is beautiful. Man and wife, united in an unbreakable bond, reflect the love between Christ and His holy People. Husband and wife, faithful through all trials, persevering through setbacks and defeats they never could have anticipated, but never giving up—that offers hope. That offers convincing testimony to the truth of the Catholic faith.

I don’t think I go too far when I say: The faithfulness of husbands and wives makes the world beautiful and trustworthy. Faithfulness made possible by the grace of God, delivered through the sacrament.

Marriage is not “political.” Marriage is spiritual. Discerning the will of God about marriage requires prayer and the regular, sustained practice of our religion. Remaining faithful in marriage requires prayer and the sustained practice of our religion.

And remaining faithful requires embracing the Cross. The world has never seen a marriage that didn’t involve a Via Crucis. If you won’t walk with Christ the Way of the Cross, don’t get married. That said, no one can get to heaven without walking the Via Crucis with Christ. So we all might as well prepare ourselves to follow the Way of the Cross, whether or not we have any thought of getting married.

Marriage is not “political.” But it is legal. Laws can cut like razors, both for good or ill, depending on your point of view. Without following the laws of marriage, you can’t obtain the sacramental grace of marriage. And no one loses the freedom to marry in a scenario in which the laws of marriage didn’t get followed.

elgrecochristcrossSome people think the Church’s marriage laws are too strict, making it difficult to get married in church. Some people think they’re too lax, allowing for too many annulments. No one says that the laws are perfect. But they are fundamentally reasonable.

You have to be mature and clear-minded in order to bring about the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Once that happens, it lasts until death. But sometimes it doesn’t happen, even when a couple tries to make it happen. Because they didn’t meet the legal criteria.

Which means that there is nothing faithless or unspiritual about petitioning for an annulment when you have a solid case for obtaining one. And there’s nothing faithless or unspiritual about Church tribunals granting decrees of nullity in accord with the law.

That said, there certainly is nothing faithful or spiritual about the kind of pride that would lead someone to try to grant him- or herself an annulment. Or the kind of pride that would refuse to seek an annulment when the law would provide for one.

Marriage is not “political.” But, by the same token, it is also not eternal. Christ was made lower than the angels “for a little while.” A man and a woman get married, and live the Christian married life, until death do them part, beautifying the world at every step… But it all lasts only a little while. In the grand scheme of things.

Some choose not to marry because they have no faith and would rather just skate along. Some don’t marry because they won’t make a commitment to love like Christ. Or they don’t know how. These aren’t worthy reasons.

But some choose not to marry because eternal life beckons. Even now, the Kingdom of Christ the God-man beckons. Not marrying because of that doesn’t mean rejecting love. It means embracing the Love that made them male and female in the first place.

Sins and Commandments

The_Head_of_Christ_by_Warner_Sallman_1941

Sometimes the Lord Jesus said genuinely hard-to-understand things. He came to reveal the eternal mysteries of divine love. So the gospels record statements He made that require a lifetime of meditation even to begin to understand. Like “I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me.” [Spanish]

But sometimes Jesus’ words sound out clear as a bell. Like the list of evils we hear at the end of Sunday’s gospel reading. In addition to “evil thoughts,” the Lord listed twelve particular sins that defile the human heart. We can break down the list into four groups, and co-ordinate them with the Ten Commandments. Let’s turn this into a fun little quiz.

Group One: Adultery, unchastity, and licentiousness. First we have to make sure we know what “licentiousness” means. Promiscuity, unprincipled sexuality. So: adultery, unchastity, and licentiousness involve violations of which commandment? Or commandments? Correct. The Sixth and the Ninth, which prohibit violations of the marriage bond.

We can begin to grasp the fundamental holiness of marriage when we reflect on how we each came into existence. Namely, the union of a man and a woman. Because children deserve to grow up in a family, sexual union requires lifetime fidelity. We talked about this a little last week. God makes the rules, and the law of chastity is crystal clear.

The Catechism has a helpful definition of chastity:

The inner unity of a human being, body and spirit. Sexuality becomes truly human when it makes a part of a lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman… either man governs his desires and finds peace, or he lets himself be mastered by them and becomes unhappy. (CCC 2337-8)

Ok. Second group of items on Jesus’ list. Greed, envy, theft. Which commandment? Or commandments? The Seventh and the Tenth. Thou shalt not steal nor covet.

When my neighbor has something good, and that very fact makes me sad, instead of happy; makes me want to have the good thing, rather than my neighbor having it—well, then I’m in trouble.

What’s the antidote? St. Paul wrote about “the desires of the Spirit,” as in the Holy Spirit. If we live the Catholic life, receiving divine grace through the sacraments and praying daily, then God will work within us. He will move us to desire Him. He will make us want the true happiness of Christ’s eternal Kingdom. When we want God, envy, greed, and theft, fall by the wayside.

Charlton Heston Ten Commandments Moses

Third group. Arrogance, malice, murder. Which commandment? The Fifth.

God does not simply prohibit literally killing people, like in abortion or euthanasia. God prohibits not just killing people, but also hating people. When they came to take Jesus to the cross, He told Peter to put his sword in its sheath. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We must practice brotherhood. Some people practice tennis, or yoga. Fine. But Christians practice brotherhood, sisterhood.

Finally, the last group of items from Jesus’ list of sins: Blasphemy, deceit, folly. Which commandments? The Second and the Eighth.

We owe the ineffable mystery of God profound respect. We owe Him silence. We owe Him our attentive ear.

Yes, we must speak of Him sometimes. We’re not agnostics. We have a message to communicate to the world. God has revealed Himself, and He has entrusted His Holy Gospel to us, for us to spread and help souls get to heaven.

But we must exercise great restraint and discipline in speaking of God Almighty. Because His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. Like I said, we are most certainly not agnostics; we believe that God has revealed Himself fully in Christ. But: We give the genuine agnostics a grudging respect. Because they cultivate the skill of absolutely avoiding blaspheming the impenetrable awesomeness of God.

Now, that great God gave us our capacity to communicate, so we must use that capacity well. That means honesty. I daresay that ‘deceit’ might pose the greatest danger of all the items on Jesus’ list. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to…

Problem is: Good intentions can and do lead us down the path of deceit. Because we have Messiah complexes. I am a good person; I please everyone; I do good to everyone…

But wait. Oh, no! I double-booked myself. Or: Oh, no! I’m too tired or out-of-sorts to do that good deed, even though I said I would. Or: Gosh, I’m embarrassed by my own weaknesses and human limitations. I can’t bring myself to admit them even to myself.

So I lie.

Maybe I convince myself it’s a “white lie.” Maybe it protects someone else’s feelings. More likely: It protects my feelings. That is: my egomaniacal delusion that I am Mr. or Mrs. Super-Good Person.

Well, what could I have said, Father? Rather than that little white lie? How about… Nothing.

May God help us to avoid all the sins that Lord Jesus listed. And humbly try to do good.

Even More Dramatic

head-platter

If we were looking for something more-dramatic than the controversy involving the pope and bishops, we found it. The Passion of St. John the Baptist, the anniversary of which we keep today.

St. John, while languishing in prison, sent two of his disciples to Jesus, to ask if He is indeed the Christ. I think we can safely assume that John sent these disciples with this question for their benefit, not his; he knew the truth.

Anyway, the Lord Jesus answered the question with a kind of question of his own (though it was hardly a prevarication 🙂 ) The Lord asked them: What do you see?

I have come, and the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear; lepers are clean, the dead rise again, and the poor have hope. Blessed is the one who takes no offense in Me.

In other words: Look, I may be a humble, dusty, sweaty Nazorean with no property, surrounded by low-class followers. But I am obviously the Messiah. You can see with your own eyes that I am the King of Justice, Peace, and true Life.

Tissot Herod
Herod

…Now to the dramatic moment of St. John’s death.

Herod drunk at his egomaniacal birthday celebration. Engaging in perverse, incestuous sensuality by leering at his own step-daughter, who was also his half-niece, the daughter of his half-brother. Reveling in his worldly power, swearing up and down to give her anything–as if he, Herod, were some kind of tin-pot god.

Then a dark thunderclap cuts through all the debauched levity. Execute the holy man. Kill the herald of the Messiah.

The mother and daughter had called Herod’s bluff.

Herod knew that what they asked him to do was wrong—grievously, preposterously wrong. He knew that a sober man would not think of such an act of violence. He knew that John, and John’s lord Jesus, spoke righteous truth, gave hope, offered people a path toward a good and wholesome life in the sight of God.

A big part of Herod’s own soul wanted to go down that path. But he couldn’t choose it; wouldn’t choose it. Instead, he chose merciless, hopeless, meaningless death. All because he feared being exposed for the puny little fraud that he actually was.

May God save us from such a fate. May He strengthen us so that we can face our choices humbly and soberly.

Let’s start by freely acknowledging that we ourselves are puny little frauds. No need to fear being exposed as such; we declare it ourselves! Then let’s stay close to Jesus and His saints.

New Scandal, Worse Than the First

McCarrick sofa

He spoke with forked tongue. In Dallas. In 2002. When the American Bishops’ Conference supposedly addressed the problem of sex abuse by priests.

If it turns out we are not faithful to what we have all agreed, it will be similar to if we’re not faithful in teaching the faith. This will be a delict that we will be sanctioned for.

Craven hypocrisy. Thundering, preposterous, sickening lies.

We will take this seriously… We will be accountable to do what we promised to do… We must put an end to this.

McCarrick lead the bishops. In their supposedly sincere effort to win back the public’s trust.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, the holy angels looked down upon the spectacle, and they wept. Because the Vatican’s Man of the Hour in 2002, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, himself deserved, at that very moment, to be defrocked and jailed for the rest of his life.

When I wrote about this before, I made a mistake regarding Cardinal McCarrick’s statement last month, when the Pope suspended his public ministry. McCarrick said: “I have no recollection of this reported abuse… I believe in my innocence.”

I interpreted this as an implicit admission of guilt. In my then-naive mind, I could not imagine a grown man, a priest, who could not remember whether or not he fondled the genitalia of an eleventh-grader. So this is the Cardinal’s way of admitting that he did it, I concluded.

But now, with more information available, the Cardinal’s statement makes more sense. It is plausibly sincere. As in:

I myself have watched the sun rise many, many times in my life. Did I ever watch the sun rise from the Virginia side of the Potomac River? Or did I ever watch the sun rise while thinking about 19th-century Italian politics? Can’t say that for sure; can’t remember that exactly. I have no recollection of thinking about Vittorio Emanuele while watching the sun rise. (Though I may have done so.)

sunrise2It appears that Cardinal McCarrick has fondled many different male genitalia in the course of his life. So maybe he truly and honestly can’t remember that particular time in 1971. The one that got him suspended from ministry, forty-seven years later.

I have no patience for vagueness and rumor mongering. Plenty of writers in the Catholic press have felt free to insinuate that “many bishops must have known about this.” But there’s not a single fact in that sentence. Others assume that more, terrible stories about McCarrick will emerge. Maybe they will; maybe they won’t.

But the simple facts that sit on the table now: McCarrick fondled a teenage seminarian in 1971. He abused a boy he had baptized through his pre-teens, teens, and twenties. He manipulated seminarians into sleeping in the same bed with him. The Church paid out cash settlements in secret to protect McCarrick–at least $180,000 that belonged to holy Church, spent to buy the silence of abused seminarians. These facts suffice.

Yes, I believe in due process, not trial by newspaper article. But can we honestly think that these stories are all untrue?

Does Pope Francis care? About McCarrick’s multiple victims?

Do the bishops of the United States care? And do they recognize that the institution called “the USCCB” has now suffered irreparable damage? McCarrick always called himself “a man of the Conference.” The “Conference” has burnt to ashes now, your Excellencies.

Speak. As individual men, as aggrieved fathers in God.  As St. Thomas More put it so eloquently, “Silence gives consent.” The papal and episcopal silence at this point is genuinely sickening.

Wimpy bureaucrat-ese won’t do it. McCarrick’s red robes must burn in a bonfire in St. Peter’s Square. Or no one will ever listen to anything. Any of you say. Ever. Again.