Several hours ago a bombshell detonated in the Vatican. A former Papal Nuncio, that is, ambassador, to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, released a stunning statement on the significant allegations of abuse that are swirling about disgraced former cardinal, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.
To fully understand what is going on here, one has to step back from the major child sexual abuse scandal that crested around 2002. The recent grand jury report out of Pennsylvania covered a similar time period. This is not said to mitigate the horror that some members of the clergy inflicted upon innocent children but to point out that the grand jury report covered the same time period as earlier investigations in the Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown dioceses and happened before extensive safeguards were put into place around 2003-04. What McCarrick is being accused of is substantially different and it speaks to a much more significant problem within the Catholic priesthood.
An explosive New York Times article today details the sexual abuse seminarians and priests endured under Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the many reports of it bishops and Vatican officials received and ignored.
“I have blown the whistle for 30 years without getting anywhere,” Father Boniface Ramsey, a former seminary professor at Seton Hall University from 1986 to 1996, said. Seminarians told Fr. Ramsey about the cardinal taking them to his beach house, where he would assign one young man to sleep in his bed, an assignment accompanied by unwanted back rubs by which seminarians were “disgusted.”
Ramsey reported McCarrick’s predatory behavior to former papal nuncio Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo “and at his encouragement sent a letter to the Vatican about Archbishop McCarrick’s history” when he was appointed to be archbishop of Washington. He never received a response.
He also reported McCarrick to former New York Cardinal Edward Egan, who is now deceased, and in 2015 Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley. The New York Times noted O’Malley was “appointed by Pope Francis to lead a commission on sexual abuse of children” and he declined to comment for their article.
Long story short, McCarrick was using the Catholic seminary at Seton Hall as a harem. His boy-toys were given rapid promotions. Those not into buggery were shunted aside. McCarrick’s power was such that even men not in his “circle” were afraid to come forward. Sadly, this is not news. Nearly 20 years ago, a book titled Goodbye Good Men documented how some seminaries were gay clubs that screened out…and forced out…normal men.
This is how Madison, WI, Bishop Robert Morlino describes the issue:
For the Church, the crisis we face is not limited to the McCarrick affair, or the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, or anything else that may come. The deeper crisis that must be addressed is the license for sin to have a home in individuals at every level of the Church. There is a certain comfort level with sin that has come to pervade our teaching, our preaching, our decision making, and our very way of living.
If you’ll permit me, what the Church needs now is more hatred! As I have said previously, St. Thomas Aquinas said that hatred of wickedness actually belongs to the virtue of charity. As the Book of Proverbs says “My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate wickedness (Prov. 8:7).” It is an act of love to hate sin and to call others to turn away from sin.
There must be no room left, no refuge for sin — either within our own lives, or within the lives of our communities. To be a refuge for sinners (which we should be), the Church must be a place where sinners can turn to be reconciled. In this I speak of all sin. But to be clear, in the specific situations at hand, we are talking about deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics. We’re also talking about homosexual propositions and abuses against seminarians and young priests by powerful priests, bishops, and cardinals. We are talking about acts and actions which are not only in violation of the sacred promises made by some, in short, sacrilege, but also are in violation of the natural moral law for all. To call it anything else would be deceitful and would only ignore the problem further.
There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publically-deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia — this despite clear evidence to the contrary. It is time to be honest that the problems are both and they are more. To fall into the trap of parsing problems according to what society might find acceptable or unacceptable is ignoring the fact that the Church has never held ANY of it to be acceptable — neither the abuse of children, nor any use of one’s sexuality outside of the marital relationship, nor the sin of sodomy, nor the entering of clerics into intimate sexual relationships at all, nor the abuse and coercion by those with authority.
In this last regard, special mention should be made of the most notorious and highest in ranking case, that being the allegations of former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s (oft-rumored, now very public) sexual sins, predation, and abuse of power. The well-documented details of this case are disgraceful and seriously scandalous, as is any covering up of such appalling actions by other Church leaders who knew about it based on solid evidence.
While recent credible accusations of child sexual abuse by Archbishop McCarrick have brought a whole slew of issues to light, long-ignored was the issue of abuse of his power for the sake of homosexual gratification.
Even after the McCarrick scandal broke, Pope Francis has focused his public statements on the sexual abuse of children and completely ignored a pattern that exists of homosexual predation within some seminaries. (For background reading I’d recommend Why Men Like Me Should Not Be Priests and these from a priest in Florida here | here | here about the coercive pressure even devout priests are under if they end up in the wrong diocese).
Now to the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. The document is 11 pages and names a lot of prominent clerics as having responsibility for McCarrick’s upward mobility. Viganò is under a lot of attacks, naturally, but there are two data points in the document which have the ability to push the Papacy into a crisis.
But finally I learned with certainty, through Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, then-Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, that Richard Sipe’s courageous and meritorious Statement had had the desired result. Pope Benedict had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the Cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.
And Pope Benedict has confirmed placing restrictions on McCarrick.
I’ve been hearing all day from reliable sources claiming high-ranking prelates and Vatican officials have confidentially confirmed that private sanctions were in place against McCarrick. It now appears that the Vatican will not dispute this if they go on record.
— C. C. Pecknold (@ccpecknold) August 26, 2018
The second data point is that under Pope Francis, McCarrick was not only relieved of any restrictions, he assumed a role as that most prominent US cardinal and was personally involved in the selection of archbishops for influential archdiocese. And one has to ask how this came to be and are their similar cases waiting in the wings in Argentina if Pope Francis makes the wrong decision.
Francis's response to press queries about the Vigano statement is beyond feeble. If it's not true, why not say, "It's not true"? https://t.co/bSVX21qDhT
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) August 26, 2018
This is Viganò’s conclusion:
In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.
There is no smokescreen of “this is pedophilia which has nothing to do with homosexuality” available here. This case, and there will be numerous others to follow…keep your eye on Rochester, NY, among other places…this is a fairly cut an dried case of the organized homosexual abuse of seminarians.
And I point out these two items because if the rest of Viganò’s letter is hogwash, and these two items are true, then it is difficult to see how Pope Francis is able to maintain any authority over his priests.
Now you are about to see the most amazing thing ever as the media, which has spent the better part of two decades directly attacking the Catholic Church, suddenly circle the wagons to defend McCarrick and Pope Francis from his accuser because the obvious solution to this problem is crystal clear even to Pope Francis:
“Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open,” the pope was quoted as saying by newspaper La Stampa’s Vatican Insider service. “If in doubt, better not let them enter.”
Archbishop Viganò belongs to a camp of traditionalist Catholics deeply critical of Pope Francis, and blames homosexuals for the child abuse crisis that has destroyed the church’s standing, writes our man in the Vatican, @jasondhorowitz. https://t.co/hvnviZbcSW
— Ellen Barry (@EllenBarryNYT) August 26, 2018
And they are going to do there level best to sandbag these allegations because admitting that homosexual men are engaged in the systemic sexual abuse of other men under their power is something neither the New York Times nor any other mainstream media outlet will do.
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