Guest Post: Anthony Patriarco

His Eminence Marc Cardinal Ouellet

Prefect, Congregation of Bishops

st-peters-sunrisePalazzo della Congregazioni

Piazza Pio XII, 10

00193 Roma, Italia


June 27th, 2020


Your Eminence,


Father Mark White, pastor in the diocese of Richmond Virginia in the United States, has been suspended from public ministry. His Excellency, Bishop Barry Knestout, issued the decree with subsequent further instructions to vacate the rectory and prohibitions to interact with his parishioners.

With a regret borne of despair, we continue to be informed that Father Mark’s petition for hierarchical recourse has been refused. His Eminence Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect, Congregation for Clergy, noted in his letter to Father Mark’s canonical lawyer, a Mr. Podhajsky, that they had neglected to use the word “procurator” in Father Mark’s original mandate to his representative, and this was partly the basis for the failure of Father Mark’s petition for hierarchical recourse.

As the Church and Christ’s words have stressed, there is no Justice and no hope of Reconciliation without God’s Grace and Love. Bishop Knestout himself, during Divine Mercy Sunday Mass at our parish, declared that the point of Father Mark’s judicial appeal was so we could be reconciled as brothers and sisters in Christ.

However, within a brief span of time, before this appeal was completed, the Bishop circumvented this process and suspended Father Mark and deprived him of the mutual love and respect of his parishioners. With due respect, it does not seem that a reliance on the technicality of naming a procurator reflects Justice and Reconciliation, since it appears deprived of God’s Grace of His Love.

St. Joseph’s, Martinsville

But instead a further dry discussion over the technicality of an abbreviated judicial appeal, I wanted to speak of Father Mark’s joyful public ministry at our two local parishes that he serves—Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and St Joseph’s in Martinsville, Virginia. It is rare, truly rare, to find the Joy in ministry that Father Mark brings. As we are all aware, without God’s Love and Grace, there cannot be true Joy. Without the Holy Spirit moving within us, there can be no true Joy in the fulfillment of God’s promise for us.

Father Mark’s ministry is a rare instance of true Joy in one’s calling. It is a Joy that fills our parishes with Love, and with a vibrancy that is not all that common in many of our parishes today.

It is gift to us that Father truly communicates with his parishioners. Father genuinely listens—with his whole heart, with his full attention and with the wisdom of our Christian Faith. It is a true communication, with each seeking to learn and understand each other, and not a lecture. He has helped me, and others, grow in Faith and Love with his patient communication.

It is a gift to us that Father’s Joy in the Word overflows during the celebration of Mass. Personally, I have transferred from another area parish because God’s Word during his sermons resonates so clearly with me. His Joy in the gift of the Mass is an inspiration and not a mechanistic chore, as it seems at times to a few other priests.

It is a gift to us that Father energizes with the Holy Spirit such a vibrant and nurturing Catholic community. It is a living, dynamic, and growing Faith community, not one that is stagnant and fossilized. With Father’s leadership and example, we celebrate together the many joys of God’s Love for us, and we mourn together the burdens that life may bring. It is a multilingual and multicultural community. It is such a young and dynamic Faith community that, for example, has been inspired by Father to produce more than its share of seminarians for such a small parish.

St Francis of Assisi Rocky Mount
St. Francis of Assisi, Rocky Mount

It is a gift to us that Father is kind and caring shepherd to the flock that God has entrusted him with. He is our shepherd who unfailingly guides us in our Catholic Faith and in its teachings. He is our shepherd that unfailingly manifests God’s Love for each and every one of His children. He is our shepherd who is unfailingly there in our time of personal and community need.

Father Mark is a gift to his flock of God’s Love and Grace. Father Mark is an inspirational priest in his ministry for us in how to live God’s purpose for each and every one of us in our lives.  Father Mark’s purpose is in public ministry and his Joy in this ministry is evidence that he has met God’s call for him.

The suspension of Father Mark from the public ministry that God has called him to with such Joy deprives him of the core of his purpose. And Father alone does not suffer in this deprivation. Those of us of his parish who are inspired by God’s Love and Grace though him are also deprived. As a loving and caring Catholic community, we also suffer by his absence and suspension from the public ministry. And, I would humbly suggest, that our Catholic Church as a whole suffers and is deprived when such a gifted minister is shunted aside.

How can Justice and Reconciliation be consistent with God’s Love and Grace without so much as a canon appeal of his situation? Dismissed, based on a technicality?  How is suspending Father Mark from his ministry and from the parishioners who love him consistent with God’s Love? How is suspending Father Mark from the Church, who he is so clearly devoted to, and isolating him from his brethren priests consistent with God’s Loving understanding of us?

With deep humility, please at least hear Father Mark’s canonical appeal according to its merits and find a path forward with God’s Love and Grace to resolve this situation.


Yours in Christ,

Anthony G. Patriarco, MD, PhD

Smuggled Out from the Roman Synod Hall… (includes Card. Ouellet commentary)

As you may know, dear reader, our Holy Father meets in Synod this month with representative bishops from around the world.

The meeting occurs behind closed doors. As the “Information Secretary” Father Antonio Spadaro put it: “The fathers must know that what they say will remain in the hall.”

But here at Achilles and His Gold, we want to know more. So we trained an intrepid mouse named Xavier Rynne to carry a portable recording device under the Synod dais.

We reviewed the recordings so far, and we found that most of the speeches involved petty infighting, meaningless apologies, lame abstractions, and indecipherable nonsense.

But we have faithfully transcribed the intervention of Stephen Card. Fermoyle, from the diocese of Columbia Pictures…

the cardinal tom tryon

Your Holiness, Eminences, brother bishops: The Catholic people of the world have a religious duty to give us the benefit of the doubt. Yet we have still managed to make it impossible for them to do so.

They prefer to think about us prelates as little as possible. Who can blame them?

Our people would love us if we simply did one thing. Send them trustworthy priests. No sexual predators.

A simple enough task for us to manage. Yet we have screwed it up royally.

Here we find ourselves, in this magnificent echo chamber, giving four-minute speeches to each other. Meanwhile, civil authorities execute raids on many of our offices. The Church universal careens toward an international legal and diplomatic crisis. The Holy See faces the all-but-inevitable prospect of a confrontation with other sovereign states regarding the secrecy of our clergy records.

What are we doing here? Don’t we all have an obvious duty to resign?

Pope St. John Paul II taught: It is a doctrine of faith that the authority of the Supreme Pontiff derives directly from Christ, of whom he is Vicar on earth. No Catholic can doubt this. The pope serves at the pleasure of… God.

Every 20th-century pope, starting with Pius XI, considered resigning in their waning years. None did.

Pope John Paul II decided not to resign because:

He feared creating a dangerous precedent for his successors, as one of them might be exposed to subtle maneuvers and pressures by those who wish to depose him.

[the quote comes from Julian Card. Herranz’s account of a conversation with JP II’s confidante Stanislaw Dziwisz]

Then the first 21st-century pope, Pope Benedict XVI, taught us to think differently.

Many of us felt deeply betrayed by Benedict’s abdication in 2013. He had concluded that he no longer had the competence to fulfill the office. I disagreed with him on that. I thought: You’re competent to occupy St. Peter’s chair as the prayerful old man that you are. You don’t need to fly on airplanes. You don’t need to celebrate Holy Mass in huge stadiums. Just stay home, keep the faith, and pray.

But Benedict thought differently. He put a new concept on the table: A pope should assess his competence to hold the office.

Is it wrong to suggest to the Holy Father a good criterion of self-assessment? Namely:

Can my people trust me to ensure that the victims of sexual abuse get a hearing? And receive justice as promptly as possible?

From the More-Evidence-that-the-Answer-to-this-Question-is-No file…

mar cardinal ouellet
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

Archbishop Carlo Viganò and I now have something in common (other than being white Catholic priests with glasses). Both of us now have received letters from our ecclesiastical superiors, trying to make us feel guilty for proposing that Pope Francis should resign (because of his evident hypocrisy and incompetence in handling cases of sexual abuse.)

[Click HERE to read the letter I received. Click HERE to read the letter Archbishop Viganò received yesterday.]

Three points about Marc Card. Ouellet’s open letter to Archbishop Viganò…

I. The Cardinal’s letter includes a significant error regarding recent facts.

Ouellet writes that Pope Francis “divested [McCarrick] from the dignity of a Cardinal when a credible accusation of the abuse of a minor became evident.”

In fact: On June 20, the Archdioceses of New York and Washington announced that a credible allegation had been made, at some point prior to that date.

Then, on July 19 another allegation appeared in the New York Times.

Then McCarrick apparently resigned from the College of Cardinals. On July 28, the Vatican announced that the pope had “accepted McCarrick resignation from Cardinal.”

An honest lapse of memory on Ouellet’s part? Changing an acceptance of a resignation after a second shoe dropped a month later into: An immediate divesting of the dignity of Cardinal.

An honest lapse? No. Looks much more like a self-serving, convenient lie.

II. Card. Ouellet confirms Viganò’s earlier assertion that McCarrick had been disciplined long before this past summer. Ouellet writes: “The former Cardinal, who had retired in May 2006, had been strongly advised not to travel and not to appear in public.”

Ouellet also confirms that he informed Viganò about this, when Viganò began his tenure in Washington in 2011.

Ouellet then engages in a magnificent subterfuge, a subtle prevarication worthy of the Church-mafia.

On the one hand, Ouellet confirms what Viganò courageously made known to the world. Namely that the Holy See knew. Seminarians had accused McCarrick of sexually abusing them. Because of this, someone in the Vatican ordered McCarrick not to appear in public or travel.

Then Ouellet turns around and asserts: “At that time, unlike today, there was not sufficient proof of [McCarrick’s] guilt.”

Whoa, Nellie.

i. If there was not sufficient proof of his guilt at the time, then how could anyone justify ordering him not to appear in public or travel? We’re not talking about a period of weeks, or even months. Seven years.

For seven years, a Cardinal of the Roman Church was under orders not to appear in public or travel. But his guilt was in question? He might have been innocent of abusing seminarians?

No. Either the Holy See did McCarrick a grave injustice. Or there really was no honest doubt about his guilt. Which brings us to…

ii. If there really were genuine doubts about McCarrick’s having abused the authority of his office to satisfy his sexual perversity, then why did the dioceses in New Jersey pay out cash settlements to his victims?

Thanks to Archbishop Viganò (and Richard Sipe before him) the world knows something about these settlements. We know some of the facts about what McCarrick did. Strange, manipulative, craven sexual abuse of subordinates who would have risked their futures saying No.

If he had not done these things, then McCarrick, and the dioceses involved, could have fought the allegations openly. Indeed, if he did not do these things, then he–and the Holy See, and the dioceses involved–owe us all a vigorous, public defense of McCarrick’s innocence right now.

But, in fact, among those who knew the details, there has been no real doubt that McCarrick preyed on subordinates. There has been no genuine doubt about it for well over ten years now.

So: Cardinal Ouellet actually writes the script of The Scandal without even realizing it.

The Scandal is: The authorities who govern the Church cannot be bothered to adjudicate cases of sexual abuse. They have no interest in the truth. They only care about covering things up. So as to perpetuate the myth that they know what they’re doing.

Ouellet tells the tale of exactly how this cover-up by half-measures happened in McCarrick’s case. Over the course of the past fourteen years. In the Holy and Apostolic See of Rome.

…But we still haven’t gotten to the most genuinely jaw-dropping thing that Ouellet writes.

III. Ouellet acknowledges the perfect plausibility of Viganò’s insistence that he informed Pope Francis about McCarrick on June 23, 2013.

This was the essential point of Viganò’s testimony; it was the crucial fact. As of June 23, 2013, Pope Francis knew that Theodore McCarrick had preyed sexually on subordinates. And yet McCarrick continued to minister publicly and travel extensively, representing holy Mother Church as a Cardinal. All in flagrant violation of any meaningful kind of zero-tolerance policy.

The only person who could have disciplined McCarrick for his crimes: Pope Francis. For five years, the pope did nothing.

Ouellet denies none of these facts. Rather, Ouellet writes to Viganò about that day–June 23, 2013:

I imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information that [Pope Francis] would have gathered on that occasion about many persons and situations. I strongly doubt that McCarrick was of interest to him to the point that you believed him to be, since at the moment [McCarrick] was an 82-year-old Archbishop Emeritus who had been without an appointment for seven years.

Please, Nellie. Whoa. Stop, horses.

Your Eminence, can you really be saying this? A sitting pope, hearing from a sitting Apostolic Nuncio to the US that an American Cardinal is a known sexual predator who has ruined multiple lives–

You, Eminence, are saying to us, your people, that we cannot possibly expect the pope to focus on that disclosure? To focus on it enough to do anything about it sometime within the ensuing five years?

What kind of sick joke are you mafiosi trying to pull over on us Christians? Your Eminence, you have condemned yourself out of your own mouth. Twice.

Your Holiness, your Eminences of Rome: You are steering our ship, the Barque of Peter, into an iceberg.