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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When the Rules Apparently Weren’t the Rules

Francis and Benedict

If you saw any news yesterday, you know that the pope issued new laws about reporting sexual abuse.

They include a procedure for accusations against bishops. Those go to the Archbishop. If someone accuses the Archbishop, you go to the neighboring bishop. Then the bishop who receives the accusation forwards it to the pope’s ambassador to the country, the ‘nuncio.’

Sounds simple enough. So simple, in fact, that we could be forgiven for thinking: Wasn’t that already the law?

And it sounds not only simple, but also familiar. It’s what happened in the case of Theodore McCarrick, over twenty years ago. McCarrick sat as an Archbishop. At least two of his suffering sex-abuse victims told neighboring bishops. The bishops told the nuncio.

 

That’s right. Nothing.

McCarrick became a Cardinal. Bishops arranged secret settlements with his hurting victims. In 2008, after all the bishops in his former dioceses, and all the high-ranking Cardinals and popes in the Vatican, all knew about McCarrick’s abuses, McCarrick not only continued to carry on as if nothing had happened, he actually preached at the Beatification of a saint.

Pope Francis’ new law also establishes that exploiting your authority in the Church in order to get sex counts as a crime, even if the victim is over 18. And the new law establishes that covering-up for such crimes also counts as a crime.

Again, my beloved, I think we could be forgiven for thinking: Wasn’t all that a crime already? Doesn’t every God-fearing person on the face of the earth know that exploiting your clerical authority to get sex offends God, and the victim—offends them so grievously, that you must be punished for it? Wouldn’t any churchman of sound mind know that, without anyone having to spell it out in a papal motu proprio?

el-grecost-paulToday at Holy Mass we read in the Acts of the Apostles about how evil St. Paul was–before he became good, by God’s gracious mercy. St. Paul never made any secret of the evil he had done. And he never let himself off the hook, simply because he didn’t know any better, when he viciously persecuted the Church. No—he knew perfectly well that he should have known better.

I’m sorry to have to say this, and I’m sorry to have to hammer it out with you, dear reader, ad nauseum—but if I don’t write about it, I will lose my mind.

Pope Francis has done the opposite of accountability. He and his predecessor both broke the very rules he laid out yesterday, in the case of Theodore McCarrick. Now, instead of holding himself accountable, the pope pretends that no one knew the difference between right and wrong before May 9, 2019.

This is the exact same thing that the American bishops (including McCarrick himself, of course) did in 2002. They made rules that any reasonable person would have thought were the rules all along—rules which the bishops themselves had broken for decades. What they didn’t do, and still have never done, is hold themselves accountable for having done great wrong themselves.

They pretended that the rules weren’t the rules when they broke them. Now the pope has done the same thing.

…St. Paul, honest sinner and protector of the Church of Rome, pray for us!

St. Paul, Admitted Malefactor and Heavenly Authority

Caravaggio Conversion on the Way to Damascus Paul

Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church. Acts 8:3.

Who wrote this–the human author? Did St. Paul want St. Luke to write this?

Well, we can safely presume that St. Luke wrote the whole book of Acts in consultation with St. Paul. After all, St. Luke narrates significant stretches of his account of St. Paul’s work using the pronoun “we.” St. Luke traveled with St. Paul from Asia Minor to Greece, from Greece to Jerusalem four years later, and from the Holy Land to Rome two years after that.

We can rest assured that St. Paul gladly approved of St. Luke reporting for all the world how the younger Saul originally tried to destroy the Church. St. Paul referred to the same fact in his own letters. To the Galatian Christians, Paul wrote: “You have heard of my former way of life, how I persecuted the Church.” To the Corinthian Christians, he wrote: “I am not worthy to be called an apostle, since I persecuted the Church.” To the Philippians: “With zeal I persecuted the Church.”

Now, yes, the younger Saul had acted out of ignorance of the truth of Christianity. But he knew that didn’t exonerate him of the malice he had shown. Paul admitted openly, without fear, that he had sinned grievously. He had received mercy from Christ. Paul responded to that mercy with pure honesty and love.

St. Paul went on to co-found the Holy and Apostolic Church of Rome. Throughout the ages, popes have invoked the authority not just of St. Peter, but of St. Paul as well. Even though Paul had done such great evil. The truth had come out, God had shown mercy, and no one has ever doubted the heavenly authority of St. Paul of Tarsus. His sins do not taint his authority—because he freely admitted everything, holding nothing back.

(And of course we could say all of that about St. Peter, also.)

mccarrick and wilton gregory

Would that we found ourselves now in such a situation, when it comes to our pope and bishops! But let’s look at what happened in Washington, D.C., Newark, N.J., and Rome, over the course of the past year.

In all three of these churches, the successors of the apostles had participated in a massive cover-up of sex-abuse crimes by Theodore McCarrick. Last June a little of the truth came out, from another source. Despite the pope and bishops’ multiple-decade effort to keep it all hidden.

Did the cover-uppers come clean then? To the contrary, they tried to put a lid on it. Then a little more of the truth came out. They tried another lid. Then even-more-damning facts came out. Yet another ploy to keep a lid on it. By the beginning of October, all three of the incumbents had promised “full reports.”

But that empty promise was: just another lid they tried to put on the steaming mess.

Where are those accountings, those reports, those acknowledgements? Where are the fearless admissions that can restore trust?

(They are nowhere, my friends. They don’t exist. Last month, the New Yorker magazine published an interview with the original source of the original McCarrick revelation, Ms. Camille Biros. She revealed that there are as many as seven sex-abuse cases against McCarrick pending in the Archdiocese of New York.)

See, here’s our problem. Paul admitted the worst of all the things he had done. The worst part of the truth was out there, freely acknowledged.

But when a guilty party won’t even openly admit the facts that we already know, we can only assume that the reason is: There’s worse. What we know about the McCarrick cover-up is bad. But there’s actually much worse that we don’t know. That’s the only reasonable conclusion.

St. Paul, repentant enemy of the Church and protector of the Holy See of Rome, pray for us!

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

Count the Holy See Among the Abusers

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when 
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
or rats’ feet over broken glass

(from T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”)

Cupich Scicluna Zollner Vatican summit

If I could have entered the Vatican building, I would have asked:

How could His Holiness have done it?

After he knew about McCarrick making his seminarians put on sailor suits and give him nighttime back rubs? After the pope knew that McCarrick made them masturbate him and forced them to submit to his masturbating them?

Knowing all this, the pope let McCarrick (among other things) concelebrate the Archdiocese of Washington jubilarian Mass last year. McCarrick celebrated his 60th jubilee. The then-Cardinal spoke and received a standing ovation from all the bishops and priests.

May 2, 2018.

At that point, Pope Francis had known about the sailor suits, the back rubs, and the forced mutual masturbations for at least four years and ten months.

What does the consecrated celibacy of priests, nuns, and monks mean? Our renunciation of something so lovely as the marital embrace?

One thing it means is this: On the other side of death, a more wonderful embrace awaits us. The divine embrace (please God we get there) will make even the holy joy of matrimony seem like small, passing potatoes by comparison.

Consecrated celibacy in the Church focuses us all–all Christians, young and old–on: the great hope we look for in the life to come.

When our young ladies and gents live through their period of temporary celibacy with this hope as the basic reality of life, then they can make a genuinely free choice about marriage.

The pope’s meeting in Rome these past four days completely missed the true meaning of what happened last July and August. When James Grein finally felt free to tell the world the truth about Theodore McCarrick, Jesus Christ won a great victory. When the still-living victims in Pennsylvania had the opportunity to stand tall, in the full light of day, and denounce as dreadfully wrong what had happened to them, Christ won.

The cruelest part of sexual abuse is: The abuser confuses the victim’s conscience.

My conscience is saying: Wait a minute. Something terribly wrong here.

Meanwhile, the abuser acts authoritatively as if: This is normal. This is how people do. This is what sex is.

What happened last July and August: In these particular cases, conscience finally won. The truth finally won. No, this is not what sex is like. We know what sex is meant to be from Jesus in heaven. He fulfills everything at the wedding banquet of the Lamb. We start to know what sex is really like by: believing that God loves me enough to make me happy forever, whether I marry or not.

I get to choose. To live a life of holy celibacy until I die. Or marry. My choice. God alone owns by body. And He has entrusted it 100% to me, to give to a spouse if I so choose.

Theodore McCarrick does not own my body. Or Father George Koharchik of Altoona-Johnstown. Or Father Gale Leifeld of the Capuchins. Or Father John Joseph Munley of the Diocese of Richmond. If I have to walk out alone into the a strange street to get away, I will–God will protect me.

The abusers had stitched together little secret shadow worlds, in which sexual slavery was normal. Last July and August, Mr. James Grein, Mr. Shaun Doughtery, Mr. Peter Isely, and many others, stepped out of those worlds, into the sunlight of Gospel truth. Christ won.

“The Catholic Scandal” = when pope and bishops don’t see the victory in situations like this. When the pope or the bishop does not celebrate with the liberated captive, and then turn around and punch the abuser squarely in the face.

“The Catholic Scandal” has never meant: O me! A priest committed sexual abuse! O my! Most adults recognize soberly that priests can and do commit sexual abuse. Sure, it makes sense to try to prevent it. Makes sense to do criminal background checks. Makes sense to train everyone to keep on the lookout for warning signs. But we cannot outsmart the devil.

The Catholic Scandal = when the institution that carries the secret of genuine sexual freedom in Her holy bosom does not react to the revelation of sexual abuse like Herself. The scandal is when higher-up shepherds (bishops, pope) do not react like fathers.

Fathers rejoice when they learn that a child has escaped slavery and lived to tell the tale. Then they go after the slaver with a baseball bat. The Scandal = bishops and pope hemming and hawing, shifting and mumbling, then sidling away.

Points of ecclesiastical procedure remain squarely on the table.

Is “grooming” for abuse itself an actionable crime in the Church? What must a diocesan bishop do when the civil authorities cannot, or will not, do anything? When will the Roman tribunals…

a. resolve the large backlog of abuse cases?

b. make their proceedings intelligible to the victims and to the public?

c. establish a means for trying, and punishing, not just bishops who abuse, but also bishops who have failed to react to abuse cases with the Church’s loving zeal for chastity, sexual integrity, and freedom?

The pope’s meeting addressed none of these questions. Instead: “a program very carefully stage-managed to keep the most troubling questions at a distance from the Vatican itself” (as Robert Royal put it).

This Roman meeting was no holy gathering of the successors of the apostles at the tomb of St. Peter. No. They didn’t even manage to use one of the Vatican’s many consecrated places to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy. They had Mass in a reception hall.

This meeting = the attempted construction of a little abusive shadow-world of its own.

Here’s what I mean. A true father does not rely on his children’s approval. Rather, when bad things happen, he deals with the bad things as best he can, according to his best lights. And his children get to lean on him.

In our Church right now, the whole thing goes the other way. We don’t have real fathers right now. Instead, the pope and his minions desperately seek approval. From somewhere. They put on shows to try to manipulate us into congratulating them for “doing the right thing.”

Everything they said in Rome these past four days has been said many times before. Over and over and over again. In 2002, Pope John Paul II said: We face the mystery of evil here. This morning Pope Francis said: We face the mystery of evil here.

In 2002 they said: Bishops’ conferences will get a grip on this problem. This morning they said: Bishops’ conferences will get a grip on this problem.

People who know me know that I am fundamentally an easy-going dude. I was happily doing my little thing, trying to give halfway-decent pastoral care to my lovable cluster-parish flock, until this latest chapter in our Catholic life together began last June 20.

I used to tell a lot more jokes in my sermons. But I have to get deadly serious right now.

I despise everyone involved in the pope’s Roman meeting. I despise them all.

In my book, the only respectable place to stand was outside. Outside the manipulative little show. Out in the Roman sunshine–where the victims’ groups stood.

Everyone inside; everyone in the Synod Hall; all the journalists with credentials in the briefing room; the whole distorted communication apparatus, that can’t see what a colossal, manipulative charade the whole thing was: I despise.

What’s the answer to the question that no one had the courage to ask? Namely: Why, when Pope Francis first learned about the way that McCarrick had abused his seminarians–why did the Pope not immediately act? Why didn’t he do anything to try to save our faith from the corrosion it has suffered these past eight months? Why did he learn about the sailor suits, the back rubs, and the mutual masturbations–and then just hang loose with it, until forces beyond his control made him change course?

What’s the most-reasonable answer? Using Ockham’s razor, to remove all superfluous abstractions, and try to get to the simplest explanation?

Jorge Bergoglio is a McCarrick himself. Either a McCarrick manqué (never did, but wanted to) or a full-blown McCarrick. A despicable McCarrick.

May God help us.

The Book We Desperately Need Jon Krakauer to Write

McCarrick and James
Theodore McCarrick and James Grein

 

All the following people have something in common.

 

Mr. James Grein

former priest Gregory Littleton

former priest Robert Ciolek

confidential secretaries who worked for Bishop Edward Hughes of Metuchen, New Jersey, who died in 2013 (He succeeded McCarrick in office.)

secretaries and assistants who worked with Msgr. Michael Alliegro of the diocese of Metuchen, who died in 2009

the confidential secretary who typed then-Archbishop of New York John Card. O’Connor‘s 1999 letter to Pope John Paul II, about Theodore McCarrick (O’Connor died the following year; John Paul II died in 2005)

Stanisław Card. Dziwisz, who likely opened O’Connor’s letter, and all the secretaries who worked with him

all the lawyers, private advisors, and confidential secretaries who worked for Bishop Vincent dePaul Breen, Hughes’ successor as bishop of Metuchen, who died in 2003

Bishop Paul Bootkoski, emeritus of Metuchen, Breen’s successor

all the lawyers, private advisors, and confidential secretaries who worked with Bootkoski

John Myers, Archbishop-emeritus of Newark, NJ (McCarrick’s successor in office there)

the members of the Pittsburgh diocesan Review Board, which met in November 2004, and heard Robert Ciolek’s claims about McCarrick

the lawyers who arranged for the settlement payments to Ciolek and Littleton

Father Boniface Ramsey, former professor at the seminary at Seton Hall University in Newark

the confidential secretaries of Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the USA, who would have opened the dossier Bishop Bootkoski sent to the nunciature on December 6, 2005 (Montalvo died in 2006)

Pope Benedict XVI

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, personal secretary to Benedict XVI

Pope Francis

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (the Vatican whistleblower)

the confidential secretaries who have worked in the Roman offices of the previous and current Cardinal Prefects for the Congregation of Bishops (Giovanni Battista Re and Marc Oullet) and Cardinal Secretaries of State (Tarcisio Bertone and Pietro Parolin)

confidential secretaries, advisors, and lawyers who worked with Theodore McCarrick during his various tenures

Mr. Theodore McCarrick

 

All these people had a part in “The McCarrick Affair”–the long-term cover-up of his sexual abuses, which has left the Church in this region in a death spiral. They all likely have strained consciences over this.

Which means: We can safely imagine that many of them would talk to a skilled journalist, one without a Church-politics ax to grind. They would tell their stories to someone who could put the whole business together into a unified, fair account.

jon krakauer
Jon Krakauer

All of these people also likely know others who know things–things about which the public as yet knows nothing.

We need a straightforward narrative, sir.

The English-speaking world’s access to facts has suffered because Andrea Tornielli’s Il Giorno del Giudizio has not appeared in our language. Yes, Tornielli undertook a blatantly biased attempt to discredit Archbishop Vigano. But the book nonetheless contains a great deal of solid information.

The Vatican brass talked to Tornielli, thinking that he would put together a book defending them from Vigano’s charge that they conspired in a cover-up.

But these men have long grown accustomed to having people think as they order them to think. They completely misunderstood what they were doing. They revealed to the Italian-speaking world many previously unknown details about: The cover-up that they had in fact conducted.

Please, Mr. Krakauer! Tackle this project!

If you need a $100,000 or $150,000 book-grant to get started–perhaps to hire an Italian translator, if you don’t know the language yourself–I will find the money. No problem.

Please.

[Click here for links, if you want more background information.]

 

 

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.

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.

In My Dreams

the Apostolic See of Rome, having conducted a thorough trial of Theodore McCarrick, publishes all the documents of the case, for the world to read (with the names of abuse victims redacted, if they so request).

scales_of_justiceWhat would the .pdf file look like?

It would include a document outlining clearly the criminal charges, like:

1. Gravely violating the Sixth Commandment by engaging in acts of sodomy with those under his spiritual care, including with at least one boy too young to consent to sex.

2. Profaning the Sacrament of Penance by soliciting sex from a minor during Confession.

3. Betraying the trust of the Christian faithful by knowingly withholding the truth about his crimes when asked by the pope to hold office as a bishop, archbishop, and Cardinal-Priest of Rome.

(And other charges, as the accusations given under oath might indicate.)

The .pdf file would also include: All the documents produced during the investigations into McCarrick’s crimes by the review board of the Archdiocese of New York (in the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018). Also, all the correspondence between New York and Rome.

And McCarrick’s responses regarding that investigation.

The .pdf would include all the sex-abuse settlement documents from 2004 and 2007. And all the correspondence among American prelates and Roman officials pertaining to those settlements.

It would include the entire sworn testimony of Mr. James Grein, as well as any other sworn testimony that has been taken.*

Also the entirety of McCarrick’s response to the accusations in that testimony.

The .pdf would include a detailed finding of corroborated facts. It would clearly lay out any disputes regarding facts.

A carefully reasoned legal document would then spell out precisely the principles according to which McCarrick should be judged, guilty or innocent.

Then a document giving the judgment, with careful reasoning, and the sentence imposed.

…I could well imagine that such a .pdf would run 200 or 300 pages at least. I would use up all my toner to print it out. I would read it through completely during the night. And write a summary of it for you, dear reader.

Then I would be able to sleep again, like I haven’t slept in many months. Because we could start over again. We could believe again. Believe that the Church can handle something like this, live in the truth, and step forward into the future as Herself.

…I know that, at this point, this seems like nothing but a pipe dream. That the Apostolic See could manage this in 2019. That is, manage to conduct a trial of Theodore McCarrick, and do it in such a way that the entire proceeding could be laid open to the eyes of the world, and we would see that justice had been done, with only blind zealots on either extreme end of the liberal/conservative-tribe spectrum trying to poke holes in it.

It’s a dream. But as far as being able to sleep again–those of us whose relationship with God has relied in one way or another on Theodore McCarrick–I don’t see any other way to get there.

Granted, no human judicial process ever achieves total clarity about everything, like the Divine Judgment will. But that doesn’t mean we humans shouldn’t try.

Human fallibility does not mean that Holy Mother Church should dispense with having laws against crimes, and judges and inquiries and court cases. As in any community of people, someone has to mete out punishments intended both to bring about the repentance of the damnable law-breakers, and for everyone else: to restore trust in the integrity of the institution.

* As we noted here, James Grein testified last week in an ecclesiastical “court.” (Church law cases do not take place in a courtroom; the process involves documents; James’ testimony will be entered into evidence as a written document.)

Reports have circulated since, in various communications media, about the nature of James’ testimony, and how it fits into the case. James himself, and his lawyer, appear to be the sole sources for those reports.

James gave another extended youtube-video interview with Dr. Taylor Marshall. As in the case of James’ previous interview with Dr. Marshall, it seems to me that the wise viewer, who separates clear facts from wild speculations, will wind up with just a few nuggets of actual information. (A man can be both a brave sex-abuse victim speaking the truth about what happened to him, and a bit of a kook at the same time.)

Those nuggets of information about McCarrick’s crimes are precisely what the judge of this case must weigh.