Chrism Mass on the Titanic

Titanic

Here is My servant, upon Whom I have put my Spirit. (Isaiah 42:1)

Mary of Bethany anointed Him. He pointed out: It’s for My burial.

“Christ” means… same as “Messiah”… Anointed. Almighty God put His Spirit on this man. Mary of Bethany anointed Him at the beginning of Holy Week, for burial. But the triune God anointed the Christ at the moment of His conception in His mother Mary’s womb. Jesus always was, and always will be, The Christ.

All Christians revere Holy Week and keep it sacred. But of course it is especially sacred for us priests. The Lord drew us intimately into His work of salvation by choosing all of us, as He sat at table with His Apostles. And gave the world the Holy Mass.

All Christians receive the anointing of the Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation. But we priests have also received an anointing on our hands. We have to use our minds and our voices to do our work, to be sure. But also: the hands. To hold the Host and Chalice.

Do not let your hearts be trouble Passion of the ChristIn our Liturgy, the symbol of the heavenly anointing is an oil called… Sacred Chrism. Every Holy Week, we priests concelebrate Mass with our bishop to consecrate new Chrism for the year to come.

Baptized babies will receive anointing with the Chrism on the crowns of their heads. Christians ready to spread the reign of Christ will receive anointing with the Chrism on their foreheads. And the priests to be ordained in June will receive anointing with it on their hands.

Now, one hundred seven years ago today, the Titanic sank. Last year, Holy Mother Church struck an iceberg. And by all worldly estimations, She’s going down.

I never thought I would walk into the cathedral for a Chrism Mass, with the reasonable man in the back of my head thinking: Dude, you’re like one of those violinists on the deck of the Titanic.

But here I go, up the road to Richmond, knowing full well what all reasonable observers know, during Holy Week 2019: Holy Mother Church is sinking. And the men on the bridge have no idea how to save the ship.

But we have more than worldly estimations to consider in this Church. We have Jesus, the Christ.

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The McCarrick Report

Just put a letter to Archbishop Gregory into the mail…

St Matthews Cathedral

Your Excellency,

In 2001, when Theodore McCarrick took possession of the Archdiocese of Washington, he did so as a criminal fleeing justice. He had sexually abused seminarians and at least one minor.

By late 2004, Donald Wuerl and Joseph Ratzinger, among others, knew beyond any reasonable doubt that the sitting Archbishop of Washington was a criminal. No written law explicitly condemned what they knew McCarrick had done to some of his seminarians. But every honest churchman would have recognized the criminal acts. As Pope John Paul II so famously put it, in 2002: “There is no place in the priesthood for those who would harm the young.”

The Apostolic See had a clear duty: put McCarrick on trial. Didn’t happen.

By this time of year in 2006, McCarrick had turned seventy-five, Ratzinger had become Pope Benedict, and the nuncio called Donald Wuerl. Everyone involved entered into a dishonest pact.

Just a few years earlier, Wuerl had participated in the common promise of the American bishops never again to cover-up clerical sexual abuse. Pope Benedict had been a party to that promise as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But in the case of Theodore McCarrick, they broke their recent promise. Pope Benedict, Pope Francis, and Donald Wuerl proceeded to cover-up the crimes of Theodore McCarrick for the ensuing twelve years. They ended the cover-up only when forced to do so, by circumstances beyond their control.

If Donald Wuerl were an honest man, he would have told Pope Benedict back in the spring of 2006: I will not accept the Archdiocese of Washington as my pastoral charge until we make good on our promise and deliver public justice against McCarrick. Had that happened, Wuerl could have entered St. Matthew’s cathedral without dishonesty. As it was, he sat on the throne in Washington with a lie under the cushion for twelve years, complicit in that lie with two popes.

Sir: Do not enter St. Matthew’s with this same lie burdening you. Insist that the pope acknowledge these known facts. Recognize that the Apostolic See has grievously wronged the faithful of Washington. From at least 2004 until 2018, Rome failed to exercise due vigilance over Theodore McCarrick. Pope Francis must openly acknowledge this, and Donald Wuerl must openly acknowledge his complicity in it. Neither of these men deserve anyone’s trust until they publicly acknowledge these known facts.

Until these admissions take place, do not enter St. Matthew’s in the company of Donald Wuerl, and do not accept the apostolic mandate from Pope Francis. I know you didn’t ask for my advice. But I advise you as a brother, anyway.

Christ always offers us a fresh start. But we have to live in the truth. The truth: McCarrick entered St. Matthew’s a dishonest criminal. Donald Wuerl entered a liar. Two popes lived in this lie for years.

Don’t walk in as another liar.

 

Yours in Christ, Father Mark White

The New Donald Wuerl

mccarrick and wilton gregory

Archbishop of Atlanta to be transferred to: Archbishop of Washington.

Seems like a demotion. Fewer Catholics in Washington than in Atlanta. Fewer parishes. The Metropolitan of Atlanta exercises vigilance over three entire states–Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina; the Metropolitan of Washington, D.C., presides over part of one state, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

But for whatever reason, the ecclesiastical mafia will view Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s transfer as a promotion. Meanwhile, blind Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington, or those who listen only to the radio or to podcasts, will not notice any change, from the old Archbishop to the new one.

I re-read Archbishop Gregory’s statement regarding Theodore McCarrick, from last August. The incredible thing: Nothing has changed since then. Seven long months have passed. McCarrick still lives the same life, in the same place. If we know more about the hidden evils of our bishops now than we did then, no one currently serving in the hierarchy did anything to enlighten us.

But, wait, Father! The pope defrocked McCarrick!

Okay. But: Why? According to what evidence, and according to what legal criteria? [crickets]

Meanwhile, in Australia, the court of the State of Victoria also convicted a Cardinal of sexual abuse. Why? According to what evidence? According to what legal criteria? The judge spelled it all out, in detail, for the public to understand.

Some have argued that George Cardinal Pell never abused anyone. Perhaps he did not. He has appealed the ruling against him.

But the legal procedure according to which George Pell was found guilty and sentenced–there is no question of that procedure’s fundamental soundness. We know what happened. The jury believed the accuser and convicted Pell according to clear laws.

What happened in the Vatican trial of Theodore McCarrick? What laws? What facts? We have no earthly idea.

pope francis head rub

…Yet a third Cardinal was convicted in court. In a civil court in Lyon, France. Not for criminal abuse, but for failing to report criminal abuse, in accordance with the law.

Perhaps one reason why Cardinal Barbarin did not report the abuse: The Cardinal Prefect in Rome (the same one who presided over McCarrick’s Vatican trial) had written to Barbarin, telling him to avoid scandal. The court had subpoena’d the Vatican Cardinal who wrote the letter. The Vatican refused to deliver the subpoena. Barbarin took the fall.

shakespearebetterAfter his conviction, Cardinal Barbarin traveled to Rome to offer his resignation–like a man of some honor might do, under the circumstances. The Pope refused to accept it, citing “the presumption of innocence.” (The Cardinal had already been found guilty.)

…I had a chance conversation with a Mexican friend the other day and learned this: Six years and four months ago, in a diocese northeast of Mexico City, the civil court found a priest guilty of pederasty. They put him in jail. The bishop had tried to cover the whole thing up; Pope Francis promoted the bishop to a larger diocese anyway. The priest will soon finish his jail term, and he will receive a new pastoral assignment…

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, we find a commentary on the relative speeds of youth and old age. Regarding her dear, old nurse, Juliet says:

Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball…
But old folks, many feign as they were dead;
Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead. (Act II, scene 5)

The irony is: Pope Francis has just written a long letter to “young people.” He addresses the sex-abuse scandal. He writes:

The irresponsibility and lack of transparency with which so many cases have been handled have to be challenged. (para. 98)

Indeed, Your Holiness. They must be.

 

McCarrick Verdict

McCarrick ordination.jpg
McCarrick ordaining me a priest, May 24, 2003, Basilica of the National Shrine, upper church

The pope has dismissed Theodore McCarrick from the ranks of the clergy. You might imagine, gentle reader, that I have a great deal to say.

I. Dark Night.

Speaking as one of many men McCarrick ordained, let me first say: this has broken our hearts. I imagine the same goes for all those he confirmed.

Most of us never thought, as he lay his hands on our heads to consecrate us, that a day like this would come. We never imagined any such thing. We believed in God, and in His Christ. We believed in the mission for which we had been chosen–the mission of divine love for which then-bishop McCarrick consecrated us, by the laying on of hands.

McCarrick consecrated us as a successor of Christ’s Apostles. We received our consecration with faith. We cherish the grace of this consecration as the great prize of our pilgrim lives. For such a day as this to come–when the successor of St. Peter has expelled our father in God from the sacred ministry… Well, this is a trial of faith. It is a gut punch. I know none of us would this wish on anyone.

Same goes for all those who worked closely with McCarrick–worked with him to further the cause of Christ, trusting him and believing in him. My memories of 2001-2006 abound with countless such good, earnest people. May God comfort us all.

McCarrick paten chalice

II. Crime and Punishment

McCarrick stands accused of crimes of the gravest kind, and he has never publicly denied the accusations, at least not in any meaningful way. Fact is, if they weren’t true, he owed us a vehement public denial a long time ago.

The crimes:

Desecrating the confessional with the sexual abuse of a minor. Sexually corrupting seminarians and young priests under his fatherly care. Victimizing helpless souls.

These victimized souls have this right: Never to have to endure seeing this priest ascend the altar again. Never to have to see this cruel manipulator stand in the place of the gentle and true Jesus.

Holy Mother Church owes McCarrick’s victims this sentence–his permanent expulsion from the sanctuary. She owes that to all the victims of priestly sexual abuse. May God help all victims find a way to believe in the Holy Mass again.

 

McCarrick concelebration
As the senior deacon to be ordained, I got to stand as principle concelebrant.

III. The tribunal of justice

We need to remember two things about the presiding judge, and the appellate judge, in McCarrick’s defrocking case.

i. The presiding judge of the case, Luis Card. Ladaria Ferrer, recently evaded a subpoena in a sex-abuse cover-up case, by taking advantage of technicalities in international law. That would seem to render him unsuitable to sit in judgment on a sex-abuse case.

ii. Archbishop Viganò accused the appellate judge in this case–the sitting Roman pontiff–of personal involvement in covering-up McCarrick’s crimes. The pope has never answered these charges; he has never denied that he participated in covering-up for McCarrick.

So if the reigning pope had any real integrity as an honest judge, he would have recused himself altogether from the McCarrick case. He would have acknowledged that he had no business sitting in judgment under such circumstances, and he would have appointed a different judge to substitute for him–someone with no personal connection to the matter at hand.

Now, assuming that McCarrick intended to dispute the accusations against him–which his lawyer had repeatedly said that he did intend to do–the verdict has come much more quickly than it reasonably should have.

We know something about Mr. James Grein’s testimony, since James has spoken openly about it to multiple journalists. I see no reason to doubt the accuracy of James’ accusations. It seems fairly clear that McCarrick is guilty of the charges that James has leveled.

But, by the same token, James has said plenty of opaque, unintelligible things. The statement he made today, inspiring in its courage and faith, also contains generalized charges that cannot be verified.

James Grein speaking in Baltimore
Mr. James Grein

Also, the Vatican’s statement today refers to other accusations. About which we know little or nothing. Did McCarrick have adequate time to respond to all the charges?

In other words: This judicial process manifestly lacks integrity. Lacks it profoundly.

If it were an honest and fair trial, then why not release all the documents? (With names of victims blacked-out, if they so choose.) After all, buzzwords like “transparency” flow forth from our prelates’ lips like water these days. Here is a perfect opportunity! Show the world the Church’s true openness by publishing the entire contents of the McCarrick trial record, for the world to read and learn from.

Why not do that? At this point, nothing whatsoever remains of Thedore McCarrick’s privacy. He lost the right to the protection of his privacy when he assumed the bishop’s throne anyway.

No, the only reasonable explanation for the near-total opacity of the Holy See’s announcement of the verdict is this: If the trial record were published, it would not withstand the scrutiny of honest judges and lawyers.

Actually, questions immediately arise, even with respect to the paltry public revelation that the Vatican has made:

In addition to his crimes against James (and perhaps another minor), McCarrick stands convicted of sins against the Sixth Commandment with adults. According to what legal criteria was he found guilty of this crime? What makes a sin against the Sixth Commandment between a priest and an adult a crime?

Perhaps the beginning of the answer lies here: The Vatican announcement continues “with the aggravating factor of abuse of power.” How did the court establish the presence of this aggravating factor? What criteria determine whether or not this factor is present, in any given case?

Also: Considering the fact that many bishops and three popes have known for decades that McCarrick broke the Sixth Commandment with adults who were not really free to resist him, why didn’t anyone try and convict him of this crime long ago?

These immediate questions, and many more like them, will receive no answer anytime soon. Because: these days dangerous, dishonest mafiosi run the one, true Church of Jesus Christ. McCarrick’s sentence does not mean a new beginning. Quite the contrary. The mafiosi have simply passed private judgment on one of their own, because it suited their craven purposes at this particular moment.

McCarrick peace.jpg
May God have mercy on us all. May He heal the wounded. May His justice be done.

Sexual Abuse by Former Pastor of St. Joseph’s

stjoeparishpic

The diocese published a list of priests yesterday, including one former pastor in Martinsville. [Make that two. See below.]

The diocese had promised us priests that we would get a phone call ahead of time, if the list included the name of a former pastor of the parish. No surprise–we never got a phone call.

The diocese’s list provides such sketchy information that we could not be sure at first. Is the Father John Joseph Munley on the list the same priest who served as pastor at St. Joseph from 1971-1975?

The Martinsville Bulletin did some good research and determined that it is indeed the same person. He died in 1995.

In the last twelve hours, I have learned about one of Father Munley’s sex-abuse victims. The victim also has died. He died young, perhaps owing to some degree to the abuse he suffered.

If anyone else wants to talk over anything about Father Munley, I am at your service as always. May the good Lord help us and steady us. Christ’s love and mercy endures forever, and His justice is perfect.

ADDENDUM

I learned from a former parishioner of St. Joseph that another former pastor’s name appears on the list: Father Harris Markam Findlay, pastor from 1955-1959. He died in 1980, while serving in the Diocese of Arlington.

ADDENDUM #2

Fr. Dennis Murphy’s name also appears on the list. Unlike the two priests named above, bishopaccountability.org has a record of Father Murphy.

During Father Murphy’s tenure at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Salem (1985-86), he would travel to Rocky Mount to celebrate Mass at the local Episcopal church, for the benefit of the Catholic people in Franklin County. Those were the days of St. Francis of Assisi parish’s nascency.

The Opaque “Transparency” of the Richmond Diocese

cartoonvillainLet’s use our imaginations. A couple of fairy tale characters.

One: A hard-hearted scheming bishop. He hates some of his priests. He wants to see them suffer. So he includes their names in a published list of sex abusers.

Two: A princely, zealous, loving bishop. He longs for the faithful people of his diocese to live in open, pure chastity. Free of sexual abuse.

The princely bishop carefully studies all the clergy files, to determine if any contain information that would help the public. When he finds something against a priest, he gives the accused the chance to answer.

Then he publishes a list. It helps people heal. And it puts fear into the hearts of potential predators.

Trick is: How to tell these two characters apart, in real life? In a fairy tale, the one would wear a black cape and twiddle his fingers together maniacally. The other would look like Tom Brady in a Roman collar.

But we don’t have the luxury of type-casting. Here in the real world, we must seek evidence, in order to distinguish villain from prince.

The bishop of our beloved Diocese of Richmond summoned us priests to a mandatory meeting. Last week, his Vicar-General wrote us:

“Bishop Knestout will provide pastoral resources to assist in responding to questions and concerns relating to the release of a list of the names of priests who have served in our diocese and have a credible and substantiated accusation of sexual abuse of a minor.”

His Excellency himself did not attend the meeting today. Too busy.* He provided us with the “resources” via certain members of his staff.

Tom Brady

If you’re like me, dear reader, you would arrive at such a meeting with questions, like:

When will the diocese publish the list?

What information will it include? Just names? Summaries of specific cases? Will any additional documents accompany the publication of the list? Legal proceedings, etc?

Why did His Excellency decide to publish this list? And why now?

Guess what? Nope. No answers to any of these!

Okay. So the prince won’t tell us: when, what, or why. How about: Who or how?

Who exactly is working on the compilation of this list? The Vicar for Priests? No.

Who then? Some skilled people.

Will the diocese’s list include only those clergymen tried and convicted in a court of law (or admittedly guilty)? Or will it include any priest accused by anyone ever? Or is there some clear criterion in between, which will settle the question of what names appear?

Answer:

Does “sexual abuse of a minor” include “grooming” activities?

Answer:

Will the diocese’s list correspond to the list already available at bishop-accountability.org?

Answer:

Have we asked victims whether they want to see this list published?

Answer:

Actually: Some victims say that publishing lists can help heal souls. Others say that it’s just a publicity stunt that only makes the victims feel worse. Do we have any evidence to go on, to try to settle that dispute?

Answer:

Mark Herring

…Dear reader, you may remember that our Virginia State Attorney General recently opened an investigation into the dioceses of Virginia. And he published a hotline for victims to call.

Has that hotline received calls? A lot of calls? Involving new cases or old ones?

Has the diocese even asked the Attorney General about that?

Answers from the diocese at today’s mandatory priests’ meeting:

[crickets]

…Now, the fact is: good people have already worked hard to give the public a great deal of information about sexual abuses that have occurred in our diocese. The bishop-accountability list I mentioned above has links to newspaper articles. And you can go to the “tapatalk” of the Survivors’ Network, and search the names on the bishop-accountability list. Lots of information.

But information is only as good as the trustworthiness of the person who provides it. Who can we trust? Do we have a supreme judge in our diocese whom we can trust to do the right thing? About criminal violations of the Sixth Commandment?

Forgive me for slipping into cynicism. But the entire exercise of today’s mandatory meeting, and the imminent release of the list–it all seems to me like a smokescreen, intended to divert attention from something else.

Sacred Heart cathedral Richmond.jpg

Our bishop came to us a year ago. In our cathedral, he sang the praises of his mentor, the prelate who had ordained him to the episcopacy. Donald Card. Wuerl.

Turns out: That mentor has participated in the on-going cover-up of Theodore McCarrick’s sexual abuse of seminarians. Turns out that Donald Wuerl lies. Shamelessly. He lied to one of Theodore McCarrick’s victims two weeks ago.

We Catholics desperately want to trust our shepherds. We want to trust that they know what they do. And do it honestly.

But today’s mandatory meeting? I would sin against honesty if I did not report this: It consisted of morale-sapping groupthink propaganda. I left the meeting as dispirited and angry as I have ever been in my life.

This is “transparent?” If so, what does opaque look like?

—–

* Bishop’s brother died today. May he rest in peace.

Integrity of the Womb and the Confessional

confessional“Who but God alone can forgive sins?” (Mark 2:7)

Indeed.

Sin involves corrupting the pure integrity of God’s beautiful plan. A plan for the salvation and glorification of all things.

We pray for the marchers up in Washington. We share their zeal. In the womb, God knits together an unfathomable plan. It’s like a little Garden of Eden. May no hand of violence ever desecrate that garden.

God, the pure One, can forgive the sins of us impure ones. He even uses some of us impure ones as His instruments of mercy. The Son of God entrusted “the power of the keys” to His Church. He gave His Apostles and their successors in office the authority to forgive sins in the name of God. To continue the Incarnation, so to speak. Jesus, when He walked the earth, had the authority to forgive sins. Bishops and priests have that same authority, as ministers of Christ.

But a profound responsibility accompanies that authority, doesn’t it? When we go to confession, we go with faith in the power of the keys. But we also need to have confidence in the human integrity of the confessor. We have to trust that the priest who hears my confession will respond according to true discipline, guided by holy teaching.

That is: He won’t distort my own conscience by calling good evil or evil good. He won’t betray God’s mercy by being too hard on me, or betray God’s justice by being too easy on me.

My point is: The supernatural grace of Holy Orders means that even a sinner can offer Christ’s sacraments. But in the confessional, our faith in that supernatural grace has to meet a representative of a human institution with integrity. Yes, all priests are sinners, too. But a confessor receiving penitents cannot be a liar. He cannot be a swindler or a sodomite. He cannot be an atheist or a heretic.

unborn…On March-for-Life Day, the young Catholic Church in America takes Her vigorous stand. Faith, hope, and love show up on Constitution Avenue.

But She limps this year. Her faith God invigorates Her as always. But Her inability to trust in the fundamental integrity of the clerical hierarchy saps Her strength.

Our faith in the triune God does not contradict reason. But, at the beginning of 2019, we cannot rationally claim that our clerical hierarchy has integrity. If we did claim that, reasonable non-Catholics would make arguments to the contrary. And we would have no answers.

May God send us leaders to get our footing back. It will take a long time. But we can do it, if we hold on. We sinners, who want to live honest lives.

Pope Francis and Donald Wuerl Contra Mundum

[The information outlined below all comes from multiple reliable sources, although Church officials have made none of it public.]

pope francis donald wuerl

In 1994, then-Father Gregory Littleton wrote to Bishop Edward Hughes of Metuchen, New Jersey. Littleton described the sexual abuse he had suffered at the hands of Theodore McCarrick, Hughes’ predecessor, and Archbishop of Newark at that time.

Sometime during the nineties, Cardinal O’Connor of New York learned of this complaint against McCarrick. In 1999, O’Connor wrote to Rome, predicting that the pope’s plans to make McCarrick a Cardinal would bring shame and division on the Church.

When confronted, McCarrick denied the charges. O’Connor died of old age. John Paul II believed McCarrick’s denials and named him Archbishop of Washington.

In late 2000, another complaint: a former professor at the Newark seminary reported to Rome what he had heard about McCarrick preying on seminarians.

In November 2004, Robert Ciolek spoke to the review board of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, governed at that time by Donald Wuerl. Mr. Ciolek accused a Pittsburgh priest of sexual abuse. He also mentioned that McCarrick had put him in some very inappropriate and awkward situations.

That is: McCarrick insisted that Ciolek rub his back and that they sleep in the same bed. McCarrick forced Ciolek to accept nighttime above-the-waist caresses.

Let’s pause here for a moment. Does what Ciolek described amount to sexual abuse? For a superior to treat a subordinate, or for a cleric to treat a member of the Christian faithful, in such a way? I think so. It’s abuse.

holy comforter st cyprianAlso in 2004: McCarrick “punished” your unworthy servant. For giving a series of homilies in a large suburban parish, about the immorality of artificial contraception. McCarrick moved me to what he thought was “the ‘hood.” In fact, the parish lay in the middle of a thriving white/black/gay/hipster neighborhood, where I had two wonderful years.

Anyway: Donald Wuerl became aware in November of 2004 that McCarrick had preyed on seminarians. (Maybe Wuerl knew before then. But he certainly knew, as of November 2004.) And Wuerl communicated what he knew to Rome.

In 2005:

1. John Paul II died.

2. The Dioceses of Metuchen and Trenton (and the Archdiocese of Newark) paid Mr. Ciolek $80,000 to compensate him for abuse by McCarrick, and by a high-school teacher. Bishop Paul Bootkoski then governed the Diocese of Metuchen, and he reported this to Rome.

3. McCarrick reached the canonical retirement age of 75. (But Cardinals usually serve until 80.)

Apparently in late 2005 or early 2006, Pope Benedict considered the evidence before him and came to this conclusion: I will not judge McCarrick’s guilt or innocence, but I will attempt to restrict his public appearances.

Thus began a cruelly laughable secret seven-year farce: Pope Benedict XVI’s failed attempts to discipline Theodore McCarrick. During that interval, the Diocese of Metuchen paid $100,000 to Mr. Littleton (the first to accuse McCarrick) to compensate him for the abuses he had received at McCarrick’s hands. Everyone kept the settlement secret.

In 2006, Donald Wuerl came to Washington knowing that his predecessor had to leave office prematurely because he preyed sexually on seminarians.

pope-benedict-saturno-hat…Looking back soberly on these turns of events, let’s acknowledge: Pope Benedict presided over a cover-up. The McCarrick Cover-Up. From 2005 to 2013.

Only the pope can judge a Cardinal. The pope should have tried McCarrick for the crime of sexually abusing his seminarians. It may or may not amount to a civil crime. But in the Holy Church, we certainly see what McCarrick did to these seminarians as a damnable crime. The entire proceedings of the trial–the trial that should have happened–should then have been public.

Instead they covered it up. Who? Pope Benedict and quite a few prelates.

The following are certainly complicit: Giovanni Battista Re and Marc Ouellet, Prefects of the Congregation of Bishops. Tarcisio Bertone and Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretaries of State. Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi (papal ambassadors to the U.S., both now deceased) John Myers, McCarrick’s successor in Newark. Edward Hughes and Paul Bootkoski, McCarrick’s successors in Metuchen. John Smith, bishop of Trenton at the time of the first McCarrick settlement.

And Pope Francis, who knew about McCarrick and the seminarians, as of 2013. And Donald Wuerl.

All knew that McCarrick had abused seminarians. All kept it secret. I think we can safely say: All of them had a Christian duty to speak out on behalf of the victims, regardless of how speaking would have affected their own lives. After all, they are all priests, consecrated to Christ, supposedly free of all attachments to worldly considerations.

But none of them spoke out. All kept silent.

None of them ever would have said anything. We would know none of this, and McCarrick’s seminarian victims would still languish in the painful shadows. But then, in New York City, in the fall of 2017, a man accused McCarrick of abuse, while the man was a minor.

mccarrickThe cover-up conspirators participated in keeping the evil secret of not just any prelate. McCarrick was the public face of the American bishops in 2002. The public face of the organization that supposedly committed itself to openness and zero-tolerance of sexual abuse.

No thanks to any of the men named above, we now know this entire sordid story–we who, trusting in the integrity of McCarrick’s life and ministry, have all been cruelly betrayed. Betrayed by the men listed above, who knew the truth, and owed us the truth.

But, even though all of this now lies out in the open, Cardinal Wuerl continues to insist: We did not engage in a cover-up! Wuerl maintains that zero-tolerance and transparency only have to do with sex-abuse cases involving minors.

Wuerl does not consider McCarrick’s history of abusing seminarians to be a matter of public record. He does not regard McCarrick’s abuses of seminarians as ecclesiastical crimes. He regards everything that took place between McCarrick and the seminarians he abused as purely private.

With this distinction Wuerl justifies his years of silence. Meanwhile, any honest Christian looking at the facts sees something else: A cruel betrayal of McCarrick’s adult victims, and a cruel betayal of all the Christian faithful of this region, who trusted our leaders.

Wuerl has lost the confidence of his priests and of his city. And the Apostolic See is well on its way to losing the confidence of the Catholics of this region, too.

Because we can only assume that Wuerl is insisting on this distinction–the distinction between the abuse of minors and the abuse of adults–a distinction clearly obtuse and spurious in this case–for a reason. Namely: Wuerl insists on it because Pope Francis will use the same distinction to convict McCarrick, while at the same time acquitting himself.

In other words, as of this hour, with McCarrick’s summary conviction for the abuse of minors imminent any day, Donald Wuerl and Rome still want to justify the 2004-2018 McCarrick Cover-Up.

Which means our Church in this part of the world will continue to collapse.

 

Donald Wuerl: Shameless Liar

mccarrick wuerl

We read: the Spirit is truth. The Spirit that consecrated the Christ, giving His human soul a prelapsarian integrity. Total engagement with unadulterated reality, unswerving communion with the heavenly Father, faultless courage and selflessness. Man in full. The new Adam, free of sin and deceit.

The integrity of the Christ became our integrity, too–by the Spirit of truth which He breathed forth on His Holy Apostles. We will discuss this further on Sunday. For now, let’s just put it like this: The ministry of Christ’s Holy Church involves human integrity, honesty, open humility before the God—all flowing from the spotless integrity of the Christ.

A year ago, we welcomed our new bishop here in our cathedral in Richmond. Pope Francis’ ambassador handed him the pastoral staff. Everyone cheered. Two Cardinals sat in choir, cheering. Theodore McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington. And Donald Wuerl, sitting Archbishop.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The truth is: I wouldn’t have trusted either of those men any farther than I could have thrown them, even then. We worker bees in the clergy have known for years: Honest Christians do not become bishops. At least not in this day and age, in this particular province of Holy Church. Attaining such an office requires a long initiation phase of flattering sycophancy. Honest men naturally run in the other direction.

Synod of Bishops Pope Francis

But we had no idea, a year ago, of the depths of Theodore McCarrick’s dishonesty. We learned a lot about it, last summer and fall.

Nor did we have any idea about the depths of Donald Wuerl’s dishonesty. At the end of last August, Archbishop Viganó called Donald Wuerl a shameless liar. The pope defended Wuerl, writing that Wuerl has “the heart of a shepherd, nobility, and docility to the Holy Spirit.”

But yesterday the Washington Post published proof that Wuerl is every bit the shameless liar that Viganó said he is.

My dearly beloved: This is not the way it’s supposed to be. When we go to the cathedral and see our leaders, we should think: I want to have the integrity these men have. I want their scrupulous obedience to divine law. God, give me the grace!

Instead, we see a rogues’ gallery of childish liars. We see grown men who have more trouble telling the truth than eight-year-old children. Liars who spew falsehoods not out of malice, but simply because they have never developed the competence to manage the inconvenient facts of this toilsome life on the Planet Earth.

My dear ones, what can I say? “Welcome to our world?” The world of those who have had close dealings with these men for decades, and have known them all along as the frauds they are?

But I can’t put it that way, because it all breaks my heart too much. You don’t deserve this, any more than I do.

We must carry on. Our leaders are incompetent frauds, compulsive liars, defensive little boys who mom just caught having broken the garage window.

But God is no liar. His Christ is no liar. And He still has a Church. And we proudly belong to Her.

Trust: Philip Roth, Donald Trump, James Grein

Roth Plot Against AmericaHistory buffs: Imagine that Franklin Delano Roosevelt only served two terms. Then Charles Lindbergh became president.

Yes, the Missourian aviator after whom a highway and a high school in St. Louis are named. Who addressed an “America First” rally a year after Hitler had marched into Poland. He insisted that the USA must stay out out of the war. “British and Jewish interests seek war, ” Lindbergh argued. But America’s “tolerance” for Jews will “not survive” such a war.

Lindbergh really said that. Two months before Pearl Harbor brought to an end any debate about the US entering the war, and the “America First” movement disbanded.

Lindbergh never actually became president. But Philip Roth gives us an imaginary 1940-1942 USA, in which Lindbergh did. In this novel, the USA allies itself with Hitler. A nine-year-old Jewish boy from Newark, New Jersey, tells the story.

Little Philip rides city buses with a wild school chum, discovering strange non-Jewish neighborhoods. He worships his older brother Sandy and his orphaned cousin Alvin. The family listens every Sunday night to the radio broadcasts of anti-Nazi journalist Walter Winchell, like all their neighbors do.

Philip’s social-climbing aunt marries a prominent Newark rabbi, who had shocked most of Newark’s Jews by aligning himself with the Lindbergh administration. Sandy goes to live on a Kentucky farm for a summer, as part of a program to “mainstream” the Jews–over his father’s strenuous objections. Alvin joins the Canadian army, determined actually to fight Hitler. He loses a leg.

Early in the novel, the family takes a vacation in Washington, D.C., leading to a stark contrast: Philip’s father rhapsodizes about the Lincoln Memorial, then he encounters hostility at a local cafeteria–for talking while Jewish.

Roth manages the nine-year-old-boy point-of-view with masterly brilliance. Little Philip collects stamps, worries about when and where people will get to go to the bathroom, dislikes a neighbor boy for being a clingy drip, and feels guilty for bad things that grown-ups have done.

Above all, he has a heroically devoted mother. Her calm clarity, under extreme pressure, produces a scene that brought tears to my eyes. Worth reading the whole novel just to get to it.

Roth sets the USA’s devolution into anti-Semitic violence in Kentucky. I, for one, do not think that, as a state, Kentucky deserves that.

But let’s leave that quibble aside. Roth moves the story to its conclusion by changing narrative style in mid-stream. From his calm narration of neighborhood and home events, he suddenly shifts his cadence to a rapid-fire, newspaper-like recounting of catastrophe.

Little Philip finds himself surrounded by adults who do not know whom to trust for reliable information. Meanwhile: martial law, riots.

The final chapters reverberate with the sense: What is going on? What is really happening? Whom can we believe?

…Which brings us to: President Trump’s claim that we have a state of emergency at our border with Mexico.

Now: If the man had shut down the federal government in order to protect the innocent and defenseless unborn child, I would cheer. If he had declared: Congress can count on me to veto every appropriations bill. Until we, as a nation, acknowledge that every procured abortion involves the taking of a human life!

You can be sure that I would be leading the rosary at a prayer rally supporting the president right now, if that was the situation we faced.

But it is not.

President Trump has brought us to the brink of the state that Roth evokes in his novel, in his imaginary 1942. America, untethered from facts. America in a haze.

Trump has chosen this hill to die on: A wall, technologically incapable of succeeding at its appointed task, enormously bothersome to neighboring men and beasts, erected for the sake of keeping at bay an enemy that does not exist.

…We also live in Roth’s 1942 USA in the Catholic Church. With no one to trust.

Vatican insiders supposedly say:

Pope Francis will laicize Theodore McCarrick through an abbreviated penal process, before next month’s sex-abuse meeting. The overwhelming evidence against him, compiled by Church investigators, makes a full trial unnecessary.

Meanwhile, the only accuser known to the public gives two ninety-minute interviews on a supposedly reliable Catholic podcast.

He accuses McCarrick not just of specific acts of sexual abuse, but of willfully and maliciously participating in a century-old conspiracy to destroy the Catholic Church. The conspiracy supposedly emanates from an otherwise unremarkable Swiss city. It involves bribes given by Italian-American businessmen and taken by popes for decades.

(In other words, Dr. Taylor Marshall has given James Grein a platform. But he has not done him any favors. Because 90% of James’ two interviews, conducted by Dr. Marshall, consist of incoherent nonsense.)

Meanwhile, the Vatican officially says: No Comment.

…I feel like little Philip. Don’t know whom or what to believe.