The College of Lying Cowards

Gregory installation

“I have called you friends,” says the Lord. (John 15:15)

Sixteen years ago today, I had an explanation in my mind for the state of the Church in America. Over the course of last summer, 2018 quickly became the worst year in the history of American Catholicism. But before that, 2002—the year before my ordination—held the title.

We had learned just how many millions upon millions upon millions of dollars the Catholic bishops of the USA had paid out in hush-money, to cover up crimes.

As I knelt to be ordained, I thought I had a plausible explanation for this. A Romanian-priest friend of mine had pointed out to me: In Romania, people would never hold the diocese responsible for the crime of a single priest. They would hold the priest himself responsible.

In America, my thinking went, dioceses had to contend with the deep anti-Catholic prejudice of our country. The typical American conceives of the Catholic Church as a suspicious foreign enterprise. So American courts treat the Church unfairly. The bishops really had no choice but to pay big settlements.

After all, we all knew too well how much anti-Catholicism this country harbors. During 2002, the lampoonists of press and screen had open season on Catholic priests. Everyone refrained from any caricature of Muslim leaders, for fear of a cruel backlash after 9/11. But you could mock Catholic priests en masse, as twisted sexual perverts, with total impunity. Just like you can now.

McCarrick ordinationToday, however—sixteen years later—I know different. We all know that anti-Catholicism does not explain the endless settlements paid by dioceses in sex-abuse cases.

The revelations of the past year have taught us: the bishops did not make all those payments to protect the victims, or the Church—or because prejudice stacked the legal deck against them. The bishops paid the hush-money to protect themselves. They had everything to lose, if the truth about their dereliction of duty came out. The bishops paid to “protect” people from scandal—not scandal about the sins of priests, but scandal over their own incompetence as enforcers of ecclesiastical law.

One bridge spans the sixteen years I have been a priest: the cover-up of the crimes of the very man who ordained me. His successor in office, Donald Wuerl, knew fifteen years ago that McCarrick had sexually abused seminarians and young priests. This past Tuesday, Wilton Gregory, the newly arrived successor in Washington, praised Donald Wuerl as “above all, a true Christian gentleman.”

But let’s imagine a true Christian gentleman, reading the sworn testimony of one of McCarrick’s victims, in the fall of 2004. Wouldn’t a true Christian gentleman, in Donald Wuerl’s place, think to himself: I need to see justice done here. I have a duty to this poor soul. May God help me to do right by him.

Instead, Wuerl obsequiously sent the whole thing to Rome and washed his hands of it. In the Vatican, they masterminded the McCarrick cover-up. And Wuerl has hidden behind the supposed virtue of filial obedience to the pope ever since.

Lord Jesus calls us His friends. Friends don’t let friends betray what they supposedly stand for. Friends don’t let friends cover up crimes of sexual abuse—even if one of those friends is a Cardinal, or even the pope.

On Tuesday, Donald Wuerl strode in last, at the end of the procession, when his successor was to be installed. The end of the procession is, of course, the place of honor. Fitting that Cardinal Wuerl took that place. He presides, with unique distinction, over the College of Lying Cowards that sat there in their miters in the Shrine on Tuesday.

…Sixteen years in, and this is the priest you have, my dear ones! Let’s keep loving God and His Christ together, one day at a time. Jesus reigns. The One to Whom we must answer, when everything is said and done, is He.

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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

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.

In Love with a Tattered Scarlet Rag

Trump Little Sisters Cardinal Wuerl White House religious freedom
far left

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.”

linus security blanketI, 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.

St Matthews CathedralWhy 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.”

Coach’s Attempt at Clarity (in the Synod Aftermath)

“Father, when you talk you sound like a coach.”

Thank you.

We all play, all the time, the most challenging and sublime of all sports: getting to heaven.

The moral law never struck me as rocket science. God comes first. No sacrileges, swearing, disrespecting legitimate authorities, killing, adultery, stealing, lying, lusting, or being greedy.

The Sixth Commandment binds neither more nor less than any other commandment. That said, the Sixth Commandment certainly means: Husband and wife lovingly conceiving babies = good, sex otherwise = bad.

Raymond Arroyo interviewed one of the prominent Synod-on-the-Family Fathers last week. “Two different Cardinals interpret paragraph 86 in polar-opposite ways, Your Eminence. One says divorced-and-remarried can receive Holy Communion without an annulment. The other says no way. Explain, please.”

moses_ten_commandmentsRaymond’s expression, as the Archbishop of Washington replies that disagreements like this “are just a part of life”–priceless.

Here’s the thing: We priests need to know what we are about when we hear people’s confessions. People sin against the commandments all the time. People sin against the Sixth Commandment all the time. God forgives. Christ shed His Precious Blood so that we could be forgiven.

That said, in order to give absolution, we confessors have to hear a resolution like this: “I’m sorry I did it, and I won’t do it again.” One of the fundamental ‘dynamics’ of a confession, if you will.

Now, as noted above, sex is either 1) marital or 2) sinful. Between “I’m married to him/her” or “I am not married to him/her,” we do not find any middle categories. I really do not intend here to wax rhetorical. And Lord please preserve me from being obtuse. For me, this is a purely practical matter. The question simply is: How is a priest supposed to give absolution to someone who confesses sex outside of marriage, but does not intend to stop?

Yes: Plenty of people receive Holy Communion without also practicing the equally important habit of going to Confession regularly. And maybe some people exercise “discernment in conscience” about their marital status without going to a priest to confess. I have nothing to say about any of that, other than: Everyone should go to confession once a month. (I try not to make it my business to judge the actions of people who don’t ask me to judge them.)

But I feel like I am completely missing something when high-ranking prelates suggest that maybe I could handle penitents somehow differently…??? Doesn’t a penitent’s marital status determine everything, when it comes to the Sixth Commandment? And doesn’t it really go without saying that neither the penitent nor I have the authority to settle disputes about someone’s marital status?

I don’t think I exaggerate if I say: If either the penitent or I thought that we could unilaterally annul marriages, then we really might as well not bother with the business of a confession in the first place. After all, have I not received the authority to absolve sinners because of a public ceremony in front of an altar involving an irrevocable commitment on my part? If public commitments, entered into as acts of religion, do not really bind, then… well… ah… consecuencias muy malas.

“Pastoral accompaniment,” “reaching out,” “emphasizing mercy.” What do these shibboleths mean? I enjoy visiting people in their homes; I enjoy sitting and talking at coffee hours. I have never refused Holy Communion to any adult who approached either with hands folded and mouth open, or with two hands open and ready.

But if someone comes to confession and mentions having sex outside of marriage, what am I supposed to say? You have to make a decision to live without that, at least until it’s not a sin anymore. What kind of coach would I be, if I said anything else?

I think that, perhaps, the more genuinely merciful thing for us to say, when we speak about things like divorce, would be:

We believe marriage is for life. We believe in big families. The world might greet divorce with a ho hum. But we weep. The world might think weddings mainly mean clothes, cake, and photos. But we think a wedding means an unbreakable covenant with the Lord of life.

Also, when we human beings recognize that the game we play ends with death, and we win by getting to heaven, then whether or not I get to have sex with this or that person right now becomes a matter of relative insignificance.

PS. I still think the most truly and fundamentally confusing thing that has happened in decades/centuries is what happened on February 11, 2013. If we find ourselves confused now, it’s because somebody took a liberty that does not really belong to us shepherds, on that particular day.

Also, my man Ross Douthat can count me in as one of his spear-chuckers on the 21st-century R.C. battlefield.

Evening Homily for Second Advent

This is my prayer, that your love may increase more and more, in knowledge and every kind of perception. –Philippians 1:9

These were St. Paul’s words to the Christians in Philippi, when he wrote to them from prison.

Moses with his "horns"
The church in Philippi was the first that St. Paul founded in Europe. It was the community that was most dear to him. The purpose of his letter was to beg the Philippians to comfort him by persevering in faith and love.

Let’s pay careful attention to what the Apostle wrote: “This is my prayer…that you may increase in knowledge and every kind of perception.”

St. Paul did not write to the Philippians to correct them. They had not abandoned the true faith, nor gotten confused, nor slipped back into paganism or into Judaism. The Philippians were on the right track, and St. Paul rejoiced in it.

But he prayed that they might increase in knowledge and discernment. A few moments ago, we made a similar prayer for ourselves. At the beginning of Mass, we prayed: “Father, let us share the wisdom of Christ.” Let us share the wisdom of Christ.

Continue reading “Evening Homily for Second Advent”

Archbishop’s Decree

stbernardine-elgrego
St. Bernardine of Siena holding the insignia of the Holy Name of Jesus

This is what His Grace handed me:

For the welfare of the people of God, I appoint you, Reverend Mark D. White, pastor of Holy Name parish, Washington, D.C.

I hereby commit to you the full pastoral care of souls in this parish…May God grant you the grace and health to carry out this charge of priestly service for souls.

Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

I am unworthy of such trust. Please pray for me. May the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, who together gave our Savior His Holy Name, watch over me and all the people of “Capitol Hill extended” and Trinidad.

Holy_Name_Church_and_Rectory
Eleventh & K Sts., N.E.
Bernardine with ihs
Click AMDG above for more info
Old map--does not include National Arboretum
Old map--does not include National Arboretum

Pastoral Charity

st-peter

In his letters, St. Peter referred to the fact that his job was to remind his people of things they had already learned. They learned them when they first embraced the Catholic faith.

St. Peter also promised to make sure that there would be someone else to remind them after he had died (II Peter 1:15).

mosesThere is an unbroken succession of Popes from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. The succession from one pope to the next began with the fatherly love of the first Pope for his people…

…Please say a little prayer for me. The Archbishop has asked me to come to his office this afternoon. I am afraid he might do something rash, like entrust one of his parishes to me.

Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

…I am working on a new special-edition Bests list, to be published soon. In the meantime, here is an extra:

Best Bobby Darin song:

Three Years Our Shepherd

crozier wuerl

Three years ago today, Donald Wuerl took the crozier in hand to guide the Archdiocese of Washington.

Here are a few words about bishops from the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council:

Christ the Lord, Son of the living God, came that He might save His people from their sins and that all men might be sanctified. Just as He Himself was sent by the Father, so He also sent His Apostles. Therefore, He sanctified them, conferring on them the Holy Spirit, so that they also might glorify the Father upon earth and save men, “to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12), which is the Church.

In this Church of Christ the Roman pontiff, as the successor of Peter, to whom Christ entrusted the feeding of His sheep and lambs, enjoys supreme, full, immediate, and universal authority over the care of souls…

The bishops…, having been appointed by the Holy Spirit, are successors of the Apostles as pastors of souls. Together with the supreme pontiff and under his authority they are sent to continue throughout the ages the work of Christ, the eternal pastor. Christ gave the Apostles and their successors the command and the power to teach all nations, to hallow men in the truth, and to feed them.

Bishops, therefore, have been made true and authentic teachers of the faith, pontiffs, and pastors through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to them…

illuminated-bibleBishops…have been taken from among men and appointed their representative before God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Bishops enjoy the fullness of the sacrament of orders…Therefore bishops are the principal dispensers of the mysteries of God, as well as being the governors, promoters, and guardians of the entire liturgical life in the church committed to them —Christus Dominus

May the good Lord prosper the endeavors of our father and shepherd, Archbishop Wuerl.

…Want to learn more about the Bible? Are you within striking distance of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, U.S.A.? Come to Scripture Study this evening at St. Mary of the Assumption School, starting at 7:30 p.m.!