This past summer, an intrepid reporter managed to interview Theodore McCarrick, in the parlor of the Kansas friary where he now resides.
What McCarrick said in the brief interview made me mad. Because I know the man. I know how he is. I know how he lies. I know how he thinks.
In the interview, McCarrick took no responsibility for all the damage he has done. He spoke in the exact same manner that I knew him to speak, back when I was one of his seminarians, when I was one of his young priests.
Nothing but Church politics.
In the interview, McCarrick dealt with the question of his own guilt in precisely the same way that he dealt with me getting expelled from the seminary in 2001. Took no interest whatsoever in: true vs. false, or the trustworthiness of Sacred Scripture, or the holy Catholic faith. He just played Church politics with my own little life.
So: Reading the interview made me hopping mad. But I didn’t write anything about it. Because I had already written McCarrick a letter, over a year earlier, begging him to repent and live in the truth.
But someone else who knows McCarrick read the same interview from this past summer, and decided to write. Not a letter to him, but a few pages for us.
“Nathan Doe” has written an essay that has restored my hope–hope that the truth will heal us. That we will–finally, eventually–get a full grip on this nightmare. And thereby find a way to bring it to an end.
Mr. Doe writes:
By the time then-Cardinal McCarrick stepped in front of the cameras and microphones in 2002 as the face of the U.S. Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis, he had already completed a personal campaign of predatory sexual abuse of minors and young adult males that stretched back across four decades. While the national media waxed poetic about this charming and charismatic Cardinal with a twinkle in his eye, they had no idea that McCarrick was using them to send a powerful message to his countless victims that he was untouchable and in complete control. Can you really blame any of us for believing him?
Unfortunately, it would be another 16 years – and an unspeakable amount of spiritual carnage later – before McCarrick was finally stopped. In fact, the only thing that stopped him was the courage of two faithful Catholic men. Those two men did what no one else could do in 60 years.
Nathan here refers to “Mike” and Mr. James Grein. Nathan refers to himself as one of a number of “Nathans”–so called because they finally found the courage to speak the truth about a sex-abuser with power.
“He was charming. He was self-effacing. He was completely disarming. And he ran that game on everyone. He ran it on his colleagues, donors and on young boys. Everyone around this guy is just a different shade of victim.” (From a Washington Post interview with Mr. Doe.)
Indeed. Just a different shade of victim.
The truly selfless kindness of that statement–made by a survivor of sexual abuse, about me and those like me, who suffered no sexual abuse, but who have indeed suffered the crushing disillusionment caused by McCarrick’s web of lies–which we could kinda see through, but did not know the full depth of…
Nathan’s generosity in recognizing how McCarrick has victimized hundreds and hundreds of us priests and seminarians and countless thousands of faithful Catholics, crushing our faith in the crucible of his own egomania: that generosity is the beginning of Nathan’s heroism.
The second part of it: His generosity in writing out the truth as he knows it, for us. Nathan’s anonymity makes it impossible for journalists to “confirm” his account. And of course no civil or ecclesiastical authorities will vouch for his statements, at least not yet. But… for God’s sake: there can be no real doubt that what Nathan Doe has written is true.
And Nathan perceives the significance of what McCarrick has done.
McCarrick was a walking jurisdictional nightmare who has left a wake of physical, emotional, and spiritual carnage that stretches back, at this point, more than 50 years.
Mr. James Grein may be a little kooky-sounding, at times. But he spoke the truth about his abuse at the hands of Theodore McCarrick. Nathan Doe has confirmed that.
Which gives rise to this question: Shouldn’t we also believe Mr. Grein regarding Joseph Bernardin? Bernardin: the enormously influential, widely beloved, apparently predatory late Cardinal, who is still revered as a mentor by the sitting Archbishop of Washington.
In his essay, Mr. Nathan Doe urges us to remain patient regarding the “McCarrick Report.” The long-promised full disclosure by the Church. Of all the known facts of the case.
What I can tell you is that if they had completed and issued their report before today, I would be sitting here telling you that they closed the book too soon. Don’t underestimate the sheer volume of information that began coming in last year, the number of different channels that information came in through, and all of the various investigative processes and law enforcement agencies that have been involved with the examination of the information.
I pray that Mr. Doe has it right here. I pray that I have had it wrong, with my cynical doubt about the honesty of the mitered mafia.
Nathan trusts that a fundamental impetus to honesty is at work, behind closed doors. Church officials, as we speak, earnestly labor on the gathering of facts. Patiently, prudently marshaling what they need to produce a full disclosure–at least as full a disclosure as we fallen mortals can come up with, in this shadowy life.
Nathan thinks the pope and bishops will reward our patience with a genuinely honest report.
May he be right.
I don’t think he is.
After all, our chief “shepherd,” the pope, has known everything that Nathan has disclosed in his essay–and much more–for a long time. Maybe the pope learned some of it just within the past two years. But pope has known other aspects of the story for well over six. And yet the pope has said “not one word.” He, and his brother bishops, with their preposterous, extended silence about McCarrick, have forced Nathan to write his essay.
No, I think we will all die before the mitered mafia–who actually have all the information–give us any. They simply do not have it in them to give us anything even remotely as healing as the document that Mr. Nathan Doe gave us today.
For that document, I thank you, sir. May the good Lord be with you. I count you among my heroes.