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.

 

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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.

 

The Cover-Up of the Cover-Up of the Cover-Up + James Under Oath

Vatican synod hall empty

Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, recently published an article about sexual abuse of minors in the magazine La Civiltà Cattolica.

Father Lombardi enjoys close familiarity with Pope Francis, and the Holy See publishes the magazine. So we can assume that it expresses the Vatican’s thoughts at this point in time. About the upcoming Big Meeting in Rome.

In his article, Father Lombardi misrepresents the history of the McCarrick case. In reviewing the events of 2018, which gave rise to the February 2019 meeting, Lombardi writes:

The former Archbishop of Washington was accused of sexually abusing a minor, an allegation that was found “credible and substantiated” by the review board of the Archdiocese of New York, and of molesting seminarians, and the pope removed him from the College of Cardinals.

First of all, McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals, and the pope accepted his resignation. Second of all, McCarrick’s resignation came not after the finding of the Archdiocese of NY review board, but after the publication in the NY Times of James Grein’s allegations.

Most Orwellian of all: Father Lombardi indicating that accusations regarding McCarrick’s “molesting seminarians” reached the ears of authorities this past summer. In point of fact, we have documentary evidence that a former seminarian accused McCarrick of abuse in 1994. A quarter century ago.

One thing we need to wake up and realize: The US bishops claim that, in 2002, they straightened their sex-abuse problem out. What they really did in 2002 was: Cover it up.

In 2002, they did not resolve all the outstanding cases lingering in their files. They did not admit that they themselves had failed to enforce the basic norms of human decency that upright people know without being taught. They had heard accusations of criminal abuses, and they had not investigated. They had not applied the Church’s own laws.

They, the bishops of the US, had scandalized the world by their mismanagement–their non-management–of sex abuse cases. That was the Scandal of 2002.

But they covered that up by pretending that the problem was the abusing priests. The bishops invoked the empty slogan “zero tolerance”–as if any sane person could ever have tolerated the sexual abuse of a minor. As if the divine law somehow used to tolerate the sexual abuse of minors, but now it doesn’t. Please.

What the bishops did in 2002 was: cover over the reality that stared everyone in the face. Bishops have a duty of governance that requires the prosecution of criminal cases under Church law. But they have neither the will, nor the expertise, necessary to do that duty. They didn’t have it in the 80’s and 90’s; they didn’t have it in 2002; they don’t have it now.

In February, the pope intends to try to do the same trick that the US bishops did in 2002. In 2002, the Boston Globe uncovered numerous unresolved cases of sexual abuse–situations involving particular individuals, in which the Church had failed to see justice done, under Her own law. Rather than face this, the bishops made the whole thing about policies.

Not the victims. Not the cases. Not their own egregious failures. Policies.

The Scandal of 2018 involves individual cases that no one has ever resolved. Pre-eminent among them: the McCarrick case. But the pope wants to make the Scandal of 2018 about policies. Not about his own failures. Not about victims. Again: Policies, policies. (And hopelessly vague policies at that.)

…Now, did someone savvy in Vatican City State intentionally schedule James Grein’s sworn testimony in the McCarrick case for a week when most of the world’s journalists are on vacation? Hard not to think so.

If so, perhaps that savvy cover-up artist failed to foresee that Mr. Grein would recount something this stunning: McCarrick abused him during confession.

James Grein speaking in Baltimore

May justice be done. But don’t get your hopes up. Apparently, “the Vatican wants this finalized by the second week of February–the entire case.”

Which could conceivably have happened–if someone started the prosecution last summer. If someone took James’ testimony in August.

But if you’re just now taking preliminary sworn testimony? Then conclude a just criminal process in six weeks? Giving the accused all the rights he enjoys under law? (Which everyone, even Theodore McCarrick, deserves.)

I don’t see how that can happen so quickly. So, either: 1. No just resolution to the case. or 2. A rush to unjust judgment. Either way: Same problem we have had throughout this scandal: incompetence at the episcopal level, including the bishop of Rome.

…Happy New Year to you, dear reader. We all know that everyone should be able to go to confession without worrying that the confessor is a pederast. We all know that when someone accuses a cleric of sexual abuse in 1994, his trial should have long since been concluded, without rushing, by 2019.

But the mafiosi running the Church don’t operate according to the basic standards of decency and justice which we all know. They operate according to some other strange calculus–a desperate narcissism, somehow both sinister and pathetic at the same time.

James Grein St. Gallen Interview + The Groër Case

As James’ faithful self-appointed amanuensis, I dutifully listened to this entire interview. I found it quite difficult.

James has inspiring things to say. About his relationship with Christ. About his triumph over drugs and alcohol, by God’s grace. About friendship, communication, and doing God’s will.

And he has insightful, illuminating things to say about Theodore McCarrick. He knows a great deal about McCarrick’s life. He says things about McCarrick that resonate with me. (For instance: the man is cheap. Has tons of money, but hates spending it.)

James continues to insist that he cannot discuss ‘on-going investigations’. Dr. Marshall asked James: What did Pope Benedict know about McCarrick? “I can’t go there,” James replied.

My question: Why, exactly, can’t you go there, sir? Or: Could you explain to us what these investigations are, that preclude you from giving any information about McCarrick’s abuse?

I would ask dear James that because: We don’t know. We the People. Out here, just wanting to know the facts, just wanting to see justice done. So this ordeal can end.

STC4584S
St. Gallen, Switzerland

Apparently, according to James, in 1948, Thedore McCarrick studied languages in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Nearly fifty years later, a group of Cardinals and bishops began meeting annually in St. Gallen, to discuss how much they disliked Josef Card. Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Both of these are perfectly honest and reasonable things to do. Learn languages. Talk church politics. Both fine.

And St. Gallen, Switzerland, seems like a perfectly lovely place to do them.

But it would appear that neither of them has anything to do with the other. The young Cardinal McCarrick studying there for some months in 1948; liberal European bishops and Cardinals meeting there in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Nothing to do with each other. Except that they happened in the same place.

I was born in Washington, D.C., in 1970. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Washington, D.C., in 1865. Connection?

According to Dr. Marshall and Mr. Grein, evil spirits must rule the lovely canton of St. Gallen. And they are to blame for both: Theodore McCarrick’s abusive homosexuality. And the election of Pope Francis.

I don’t see the connection myself. According to Dr. Marshall and Mr. Grein, the connection is: Bella Dodd. (Famous ex-communist in the 1950’s.)

????

…My point is: The Marshall-Grein interview above is kooky. Kooky kooky.

Now, people are allowed to be kooky. James Grein is allowed to be kooky. His being kooky does not mean that he’s not telling the truth about Theodore McCarrick abusing him in a criminal manner.

Please, though: Can’t we stick to facts? At least for now?

Evil spirits may very well rule the Swiss canton of St. Gallen. If so, may God help those afflicted by it. But we cannot determine the truth of that claim based on the evidence before us. And it’s not the real question, anyway.

The real question is: Is Theodore McCarrick guilty of crimes? And which crimes, exactly? And what punishment should be meted out upon him, to restore justice?

Hans Hermann Card. Groer
Hans Hermann Card. Groër

Speaking of lovely European places:

In 1995, a sex-abuse victim denounced the sitting Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Austria.

A meltdown ensued. The Cardinal denied the charge. The Vatican would not intervene. Other victims came forward. The other Austrian bishops began to wonder. The Vatican then intervened in a backhanded manner, promoting one of the auxiliary Vienna bishops (Christoph Schonborn) to the status of co-adjutor.

(The Holy See even had an investigation done, eventually, but never released anything.)

The poor little, ancient church of Austria lurched through almost three years of not knowing what to believe. The pope even came to visit, and beatified three saints, and it seemed more painful than joyful.

”The Pope is visiting a burning house,” a victims’ advocate complained. ”But instead of speaking about the fire, he talks about the lovely flowers in front of it.”

At the beginning of 1998, a journalist published a book comprehensively documenting Cardinal Groër’s systematic sexual abuse of students and seminarians over the course of decades.

And then an amazing thing happened. It happened two years too late, and it apparently drew the Vatican’s ire. But it happened.

The bishops of Austria issued a statement. They publicly affirmed, in writing, that they had achieved moral certainty that Cardinal Groër was guilty.

Now: if we didn’t have mafiosi for bishops (and a pope), they would do that for us. A clear declaration. Guilty. Or, maybe, innocent. Whatever the evidence indicates. And it would not take three years.

Scandal Compendium

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If you find yourself at a loose end, dear reader:

Compendium of My Posts So Far on the McCarrick Case and the PA Grand-Jury Report, in reverse chronological order

The Vatican Spills the McCarrick Beans (Off the Record) December 4

More From James’ Amanuensis (with a could-have-been/was comparison) November 21

Guest Exhortation from Dr. Ann White November 17

Tornielli Giorno GiudizioThe Fantasy of the February Vatican Meeting November 15

Proposed USCCB Letter November 14

USCCB 2002: A McCarrick Memory November 13

Non-Persons to the Mafiosi November 10

Journalists and Bishops November 6

The Need a Miracle November 5

Rally in Baltimore; Buffalo Whistleblower; Sioux City and New York City November 2

Here come the Feds: Part I, Part II October 25

Priests’ Convocation: Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Pope a Gaslighter? Two Books

Commentary on Marc Card. Ouellet Open Letter to Viganò

Oct. 6 Vatican Communique on McCarrick: Commentary

Archbishop ViganoMafiosi Run Our Church: The Evidence

Holy Father on the Cardinal Wuerl Train

To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 20

When Will the Scandal End? (McCarrick Settlements Edition)

September 2018 Exchange between Bishop Knestout and Your Humble Servant

Being Catholic Now Q1 a2

Another Open Letter to His Holiness, about Severity

Increasing Sense of Helplessness

How to be Catholic Now, Q1 a1

In Love with a Tattered Scarlet Rag

Transparent and Unfathomable

The Corrupt Conspiracy September 7

Open Letter to the Holy Father September 1 [NB. I have removed this post from my weblog at the request of Bishop Knestout]

Caso Romanones August 31

Should the Pope Resign? August 29

Believing Viganò August 28

Pontifical Prevarication August 27

Late Night with Viganò August 26

The Church’s Center of Gravity August 24

Pope Francis mate.jpgWe Think You’re Incompetent August 22

More about the PA Report August 22

Me and Jake Tapper Hate the Bishops August 20

The Good PA Catholics August 19

Victims Crucifix + Wuerl Fail, Part II August 17

PA Grand Jury Report: Not Bad, But Good August 16

Wuerl Fail August 14

The Teaching that Convicts August 12

Checchio Fail August 10

Our Vichy Regime August 9

James w McCarrickTottering Church August 8

Priesthood Ex Opere Operato August 5

Burbidge Fail August 4

Open Letter to Theodore McCarrick August 1

St. Alphonsus, Pray for Newark and Washington August 1

Going Backwards July 31

James’ Amanuensis July 30

James the Man of the Hour July 30

No Longer His Eminence July 28

New Scandal, Worse than the First July 26

Scandal of 2002 Painfully Revisited June 29

The Spider Web June 20

Vatican Spills the McCarrick Beans, Part II

Tornielli Giorno Giudizio

Anyone watching the work of the American bishops meeting in Baltimore three weeks ago knows that they voted on this:

Be it resolved that the bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourage the Holy See to release all the documentation that can be released consistent with the canon and civil law regarding the misconduct of Archbishop McCarrick.

The bishops voted that resolution down.

Meanwhile, laughter in Rome. Why? Because Rome had already released all the info. By talking secretly to two journalists. The book was published November 6.

“Don’t these silly Americans understand how we do things here?” the Roman cardinali thought to themselves. (Among the Roman cardinali, I include Donald Wuerl, certainly one of Tornielli & Valente’s anonymous sources.)

Meanwhile, we American men wonder: Really? Talking off the record to a sympathetic journalist counts as “accountability?”

Anyway, click Part One of my summary of the book, if you haven’t read it already. We continue now with:

Facts about Theodore McCarrick revealed by the unwitting accountability team of Vigano-Tornielli-Valente…

In December 2005, Pope Benedict XVI knew that McCarrick had abused seminarians.

McCarrick turned 75 in July, 2005, still healthy and energetic. I remember it as if it were yesterday; all us Washington priests had to attend a 75th birthday party held in a fancy new dining hall at Georgetown University.

Even though canon law requires the resignation of all bishops at 75, sitting Cardinal Archbishops generally serve at least two extra years, if not four or five.

But McCarrick did not. Having concluded that McCarrick posed a grave danger to the good name of Holy Mother Church, Pope Benedict rushed the replacement process, hastily naming Donald Wuerl as McCarrick’s successor. Well before McCarrick turned 76.

crozier wuerl

Meanwhile: two things…

1. Everyone knew that Pope Benedict was embarrassing Theodore McCarrick. But we all thought it had to with a fast one that McCarrick had pulled on then-Card. Ratzinger in 2004. Ratzinger had explained that priests could and should withhold Holy Communion from politicians who voted in favor of abortion. McCarrick did not communicate that instruction to his brother American bishops.

We priests in the trenches thought McCarrick got relieved early because of that. Little did we know…

2. The second settlement of an abuse claim against McCarrick ran its course during 2006. Rome got the word.

Vigano wrote about “sanctions” against McCarrick. Vigano supposed that the sanctions began in 2009, after Dr. Richard Sipe published selections from the McCarrick abuse-claim settlement documents.

But the ‘sanctions’ actually began in December of 2006.

Vigano wrote that Pope Francis “lifted” them in 2013.

He did not. Because they had never been enforced at all.

The history recounted in this book–of nuncios and cardinals trying to enforce Pope Benedict XVI’s order that Theodore McCarrick live a retired life of prayer and penance–it reads like the slapstick farce that it was. McCarrick outmaneuvered them all.

Tornielli and Valente document it, in excruciating detail. They propose to contradict Vigano, insisting that Vigano painted an inaccurate picture of a McCarrick effectively punished by Benedict XVI, then liberated by Francis.

But: I don’t remember Vigano insisting that Benedict’s sanctions were effective. As Tornielli and Valente point out, Vigano himself proved utterly inadequate to the task of enforcing them.

Tornielli and Valente try to cast doubt on Vigano’s utterly crucial assertion that he told Pope Francis about McCarrick’s abuses in June of 2013. But Card. Ouellet, prefect of Bishops, has already acknowledged that Vigano probably did tell the pope about McCarrick. (Oullet preposterously claimed that we could hardly expect the pope to focus on such information).

And even if Vigano never told Pope Franis anything about McCarrick, Tornielli and Valente effectively inform us that they all knew anyway–all the Cardinals around the pope. Pope Francis didn’t need Vigano to tell him that McCarrick was a ticking time bomb of scandal that could explode and destroy them all. The pope already knew. He just did not appear to care.

McCarrick sofa

The picture from this hit-piece book against Vigano is manifestly not: Vigano wrong. The picture that emerges is: The people who run our church really, really do not know what they are doing.

I will likely have more to tell you about what I have read, dear reader, but let me close now with:

My Analysis

In 1994, Bishop Hughes of Metuchen, NJ, could have insisted on a church trial of his predecessor, even though that predecessor was his ecclesiastical superior. Trials are ugly, but they do attain the kind of certitude that we can have in this life, about an accused man’s guilt or innocence.

It would have taken a great deal of courage for Hughes to denounce the Archbishop of his province. But the alternative was: Slip into the shadow world of the mafiosi

In 1999, Cardinal O’Connor could have insisted on a trial of Theodore McCarrick, for violations of the Sixth Commandment with his own seminarians. But he did not. O’Connor wasn’t hung up about guilt or innocence, either; he only cared about whether or not McCarrick got promoted.

(Even the good guys among the mafiosi are still mafiosi, my friends. O’Connor was convinced that McCarrick had preyed on defenseless young men. But still O’Connor never suggested that McCarrick had no business remaining in the throne in Newark–and had no business saying Mass at all.)

John Paul II could have, and should have, conducted a trial. But he preferred to think the best about the charming snake-oil salesman.

Benedict XVI absolutely had to conduct a trial. But he did not do so. He assumed McCarrick was guilty. Meanwhile, McCarrick regarded Benedict’s attempts to closet him in a monastery as a “persecution.” Because McCarrick denies to this day that he did anything wrong.

There’s no getting around this: Pope Benedict XVI is guilty of covering up for Theodore McCarrick. The pope worried about scandal. He did not appear to understand that McCarrick’s victims needed justice. Nor did he understand that more victims would surely come forward.

But we can well imagine that Benedict is suffering his punishment right now. He himself made the choice that leaves him in the impossibly painful position that he now occupies. He knows everything about all this. He knows he made a terrible mistake, out of weakness of will.

And he can say nothing. He has information that could help resolve the problem–The Problem, that he knows has released termites into the very foundations of the Church. But he cannot say anything. Because of the choice that he himself made, to live as the “contemplative ex-pope.”

Pope Francis inherited a nightmare situation in which one of his Cardinals (an unusually prominent one) stood accused of grave abuses. But his guilt had never been proved; it had never even been put on trial, by anyone.

Pope Francis absolutely, positively had to conduct a trial, to establish McCarrick’s guilt definitively and remove him from the clerical state.

Instead, Pope Francis blew the whole thing off completely.

Until a man came forward accusing McCarrick of abusing him while he was still a minor. And this apocalypse we have lived through, and continue to live through, began.

The Chief Mafiosi Speak About McCarrick (Off the Record, of Course)–Part I

Il Giorno del Giudizio (The Day of Judgment) by Andrea Tornielli and Gianni Valente

Dear reader, your unworthy servant reads the Italian. So I can inform you of what this book says. They published it in Italy a month ago, and it says a lot:

Tornielli Giorno Giudizio

Two Vatican journalists, intent on making Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano look bad, obtained access to some very knowledgeable churchmen. The churchmen talked.

First: Thedore-McCarrick-related facts, heretofore unknown to the public, which we learn in the first four chapters of this book

1. The Vatican began to look for a replacement for James Card. Hickey, Archbishop of Washington, in early 1999.

John Card. O’Connor, then-Archbishop of New York, had heard about McCarrick abusing seminarians. He wrote to Rome, warning Pope John Paul II that choosing the incumbent of Newark for Washington would lead to a colossal scandal: “The American clergy will become divided, and the reputation of the hierarchy will suffer, with mud on the Church.”

(Yes: prophetic.)

Tornielli and Valente include the reason why O’Connor knew. The priest who eventually received a settlement payment in 2004 had complained to Bishop Edward Hughes, McCarrick’s successor in the diocese of Metuchen, NJ, about McCarrick’s abuse. He complained about it in 1994.

In his August testimony, Archbishop Vigano painted a picture of an enfeebled John Paul II who wasn’t really in the decision-making loop in AD 2000. Tornielli and Valente successfully undermine that picture. I myself had the privilege of meeting the pope in the year 2000; he was somewhat enfeebled. Out-of-it? No way.

Cardinal O’Connor’s letter led to a yearlong delay in choosing a successor for Washington. During that year, Cardinal O’Connor died. Meanwhile, McCarrick wrote Rome, denying the accusations against him.

John Paul II believed the man who had spoken Polish to him, and to Bill Clinton, in Newark in 1995.

john paul ii theodore mccarrick newark 1995
Pope St. John Paul II and Theodore McCarrick, Newark, 1995

[Would like to pause here for one moment, dear, attentive reader.

Discussion of McCarrick’s career tends to focus on his ‘promotion’ to Washington in 2000. But this obscures an important fact: sitting in the episcopal throne of the Archdiocese of Newark, while less prestigious, actually involves shepherding a lot more people. And Newark, unlike Washington, has multiple suffragan sees. Washington barely qualifies as an archdiocese; it has only one very-small suffragan see.

What if McCarrick had not become the Archbishop of Washington? He would not have ascended to the College of Cardinals. But his depredations would still have wounded the faith of thousands upon thousands of Catholics. And hundreds of priests.

Archbishop Vigano, and Tornielli and Valente, have given us a lot of information about events in Rome and Washington since 1999. But we can’t forget: the story of Theodore McCarrick is fundamentally the story of a New-York priest who became a bishop and archbishop in New Jersey. And apparently did quite a few terrible things. Which got covered-up, even before his name appeared on anyone’s list of candidates for Archbishop of Washington in 1999.

McCarrick’s abuses would demand a serious reckoning–of who knew what, and when–even if the ball had bounced a different way for Washington in the year 2000.

Anyway, back to the facts revealed in the book…]

2. In the process of trying to make Vigano look dishonest, Tornielli and Valente make him look fundamentally honest. Their sources corroborate all of these assertions:

On the day after the Vatican announced the pope’s choice for Washington, a former seminary professor in Newark wrote to the Holy See, at the insistence of the then-nuncio to the US, Gabriel Montalvo. The professor re-iterated O’Connor’s charges against McCarrick. (O’Connor’s prior letter explains why Montalvo already knew something about it.)

Tornielli and Valente have a lovely paragraph outlining their presumption (which I believe accurate) that McCarrick ceased his depredations upon arriving in Washington:

The diocese doesn’t have a beach house to which he could invite seminarians. And seeing how close he was to the marble halls of the federal institutions, to the Congress and the President of the USA, McCarrick knew that, with so many eyes focused on him, he had to be much more careful.

In December 2005, the sitting Bishop of Metuchen, NJ, Paul Bootkoski, reported to the Apostolic See this fact: his diocese had secretly settled claims of abuse against McCarrick made the previous year.

(In the meantime, McCarrick had participated in the Sistine-chapel conclave held after the death of JP II.)

At this point, the authors’ sources tell them: Bootkoski, Montalvo (the nuncio), and the officials of the Roman dicasteries all acknowledge the fundamental fact. This problem now sits squarely on the desk of the new pope, Benedict XVI. Only the Holy Father can judge and sentence a Cardinal of the Roman Church…

[Much more to come over the next few days, my dear ones. Click here for PART TWO.]

More From James’ Amanuensis

What could have happened. And should have happened.

Actual facts: Roman characters. Could have/should have: italics.

Late June. The archdioceses of Washington and New York notify the public about an accusation against Theodore McCarrick. The Church publishes a phone#/e-mail/snail-mail address for anyone with knowledge of the case. Also publishes: A clear, thorough explanation of how McCarrick’s church trial will proceed, including the date on which it will begin.

Also in late June: The Holy See releases a comprehensive report about the secret cash settlements between McCarrick and the seminarians he abused. The report includes all relevant documents, with only the names of innocent victims redacted. All bishops and other administrators involved acknowledge their grave mistakes. And resign.

The bishops of Metuchen, Newark, and Washington, D.C. acknowledge the shock and pain of their people. They begin visiting their parishes to help their people cope.

Late July. James Grein comes forward, speaking out about McCarrick through the New York Times. The bishops of Arlington, Virginia (where James is known to reside), Washington, D.C., and New York all reach out personally to James.

Mid-August. The Pennsylvania grand jury releases its report on sexual abuse of minors by priests. The bishops of Pennsylvania, along with all the bishops in the US, acknowledge that they have gravely failed their people. They could have audited their own files, made sure that all sex-abuse victims had been heard, and justice done for them. But instead, the bishops idly sat by, distracted from their duty by their own tender and over-sized egos.

Late August. The USCCB meets in an emergency session and unanimously adopts a resolution. Yes, we have failed you, dear People of God. We will all return to parish ministry and try to learn how to administer the Church’s resources better than we have done. We have developed a five-year process for replacing ourselves with priests currently serving in parishes.

Also in mid-August. The Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C., admits that he made serious mistakes while serving in Pennsylvania in the 80’s and 90’s. He does not get defensive. Instead of focusing on himself, he focuses on his people, who still need a lot of help in coping with the revelations about Theodore McCarrick’s dishonesty.

Late August. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano sees no need to publish a dossier, The public already has all the documents pertaining to the McCarrick cash settlements from 2004 and 2006. The public already knows who covered for McCarrick; they have all resigned.

November. The US bishops hold their annual meeting. The president begins the meeting by announcing the verdict of the McCarrick trial.

Scandal over.

…This is no idle fantasy, dear reader. It could and should have happened this way. Indeed, it would have required a great deal less effort than all the fruitless attempts that Pope Francis and our American bishops have made, trying vainly to justify themselves with pointless abstractions, rather than confront facts.

But, as it is, we find ourselves in a haze.

As I understand the beginning of the EWTN interview which you can watch above, Mr. James Grein is in contact with Church officials. James declines to elaborate about sex-abuse details in this interview, referring to “investigations” now underway. (In July, James willingly gave details.)

Meanwhile, McCarrick continues to maintain his innocence. One of his brother bishops said as much, in Baltimore last week.

mccarrickA trial, therefore, must proceed. In order to reach justice through a contentious process.

It’s never too late! Those governing the Church could right now offer to us a careful, detailed explanation of how the process will unfold.

The fundamental point in dispute: Has James falsely and wrongly accused Theodore McCarrick of grave crimes?

Could be. No one ever reached the truth without hearing both sides.

We considered this question here before. James, sympathetic as he may be in the speech and interview above, has not added to his credibility with the statements he has made this past week. I’m not saying he compromised his credibility, either. He simply added nothing specific to our knowledge of the case.

Perhaps he could have explained better why he refrained from giving details this time around. But it’s not Mr. James Grein’s job to explain such things.

My point here is this: Either the course of justice is moving forward in a way that we can respect, or it isn’t.

If James has testified under oath, and that’s why he won’t get into details on Youtube, then maybe the wheels are really turning.

But, if that is the case, why hasn’t any Church official explained to the public the current state of the process? Why leave us with the strong impression that all any bishop or pope does in the Catholic Church is kick the can down the road, hoping the stupid sheep will forget about all this?

On the other hand, if James has not, in fact, given official testimony, then why not speak more freely in the interview above? EWTN reporter Wyatt Goolsby gave James a wide-open opportunity clearly to spell out McCarrick’s crimes. And if the official Church continues to do nothing, and you say this is “your moment” to speak, why not speak clearly and in detail? Criminals get convicted based on clear details of evidence.

But, again: If James is not to be believed–if he won’t give details because he doesn’t really know what he is talking about–then why won’t someone who knows the facts come to McCarrick’s defense? After all these months, no one has said anything to defend McCarrick from the grave charges James leveled against him in July.

…My old friend Msgr. Charles Pope recently published an essay arguing that Pope Francis now “owns” the crisis.

Would that Pope Francis did own it. The problem we have is that no one appears willing to own the McCarrick case.

And the cowardly refusal to own sex-abuse cases is The Scandal. The Scandal that has brought the pope and bishops of our Church to the state of utter infamy that they now occupy.

Proposed USCCB Letter

James Grein speaking in Baltimore
James Grein speaking yesterday in Baltimore

No one asked me. But if a bishop at the meeting in Baltimore asked me, “What should we do?” I would say:

Circulate the following letter for the signature of all the members of the conference, then send it to Theodore McCarrick…

 

Dear Brother,

 

Mr. James Grein has lodged testimony against you. He says you sexually abused him for two decades. Others have also testified that you abused them.

We believe these charges. You yourself have given us no choice but to believe them. You have not denied them.

We all saw your intelligence and charisma when you led this conference through the sex-abuse scandal of 2002. But, amazingly, you had these crimes on your conscience at that time. How could you manage to stand in the limelight, knowing how dishonest you were?

Your dishonesty at that crucial moment in the history of the Church in America has now scandalized our people–and us–so thoroughly that we hardly know what to do.

We condemn you for what you have done. The debt you owe to James, and to all the people you have wronged; the debt you owe to society, to the Church–it is staggering, terrifying to imagine.

We beg you to go on the record and admit the truth in full. Please do so, under oath, and before suitable witnesses. Admit everything: all your crimes, all your hypocrisy. Acknowledge the damage you have done to others, to the integrity of your office as priest and bishop–the damage you have done to the integrity of our Church.

For our sake, for the sake of those you abused and harmed so deeply, for the sake of all the Christian people, and for your sake: Admit the truth. Repent of your sins. Beg God’s mercy, before it’s too late. Too late for us, and too late for you.

 

Fraternally in Christ, Your brother bishops of the USA