Donald Cardinal Wuerl loves. He loves his scarlet robe.
Not because of the Precious Blood of Christ, and the blood of Christ’s martyrs–which the robe fundamentally represents. Rather, Cardinal Wuerl loves the prestige. And the deference that the robe seems to demand from the sycophants who surround him.
But a painful fact gnaws at the Cardinal’s heart. Namely this: A little New-York leprechaun wore the robe before him. And that fork-tongued bastard sullied the robe. He covered it with dirt.
Theodore McCarrick wore the scarlet robe of the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C. He, too, gloried in the prestige and the deference. He even stood in front of all the news cameras in 2002, to trumpet the ‘great achievement’ of the Dallas Charter.
And the whole time: he belonged in jail.
…Last month Cardinal Wuerl gave two interviews. To try to comfort the faithful upon the release of the Pennsylvania grand-jury report on clerical sexual abuse.
Nikki Battiste of CBS asked the Cardinal, “How does it feel, knowing that children were sexually abused at the hands of priests under your watch?” The Cardinal would not, or could not, answer the question. Instead, he said: “Well, that’s why, if that came to the light, we moved to remove that priest.”
I, for one, still want to hear the answer to the question that Ms. Battiste asked. (More on that below.)
But, if you’re the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, why express your own emotions? When you have the power to manipulate the emotions of those around you, who have no choice but to serve you?
In the second interview, referring to disciplining priests who had sexually abused children, the Cardinal said to Tom Fitzgerald of Fox 5 DC: “How we dealt with things in the late 80’s/early 90’s is different from the way we would today.” To which Mr. Fitzgerald responded: “What could possibly ‘evolve’ when it comes to understanding child sexual abuse?”
Dear reader, please go ahead and watch both of these interviews in their entirety. The second one is both long and enormously painful to watch. But click the links, and see for yourself. Then ask yourself this question: Who could come away from watching these interviews and think that this man is honest? Who could think that he has a grip on reality?
…The sitting Archbishop of Washington has the duty to help his people to cope with the gut-punch: his predecessor belonged in jail. During his entire tenure. The former Cardinal Archbishop of Washington. Should have been in jail the whole time.
Not easy to cope with. But someone has to master his emotions about it, and then help the rest of us cope.
Problem is: Cardinal Wuerl needs someone to help him cope. He obviously cannot cope. The thing he has loved for so long–his scarlet robe, with its prestige, and a cortege of sycophants trailing along–this treasured thing isn’t worth a damn anymore.
Why not burn the red cassock on the steps of the cathedral? And yell every curse word you can think of, in a fit of rage against the leprechaun from New York? All on camera. That would comfort the faithful a million times more than the two interviews above.
What we are witnessing in the Church of Washington is this: the pathetic spectacle of a delirious man, in love with a tattered rag, clinging to it with childlike desperation. And demanding that those around him pretend that the garment is still shiny and new and lovely.
Please, please, please: Step aside, your Eminence. Find a cozy, shaded sun-room somewhere, and do crossword puzzles. We need a man willing to cope with reality.
Sitting on the throne of St. Matthew’s Cathedral doesn’t mean prestige anymore. It means a long, hard, quiet struggle. People spitting in your face, and you saying in reply, “Bless you for your honesty.”