Following recent revelations that the General Secretary of the US Catholic bishops’ conference had been caught living an active homosexual lifestyle, commenters are emphasizing – as I did at the time – that this is a problem from the top down. The wrong people were allowed to ascend the hierarchy; and now, from their officially protected positions, they’re allowing the rot to continue. The situation has been made even worse by criminal charges being brought against former Cardinal (now defrocked) Theodore McCarrick. George Neumayr notes:
This trial is sure to serve as yet another reminder of the Catholic hierarchy’s complicity in McCarrick’s misdeeds. After all, those who knew of his misconduct remain in positions of power. “[W]e all knew,” Bishop Steven Lopez has acknowledged.
Some close associates of McCarrick have even received promotions since the scandal. Cardinal Kevin Farrell, his former roommate, holds a high position at the Vatican. Two of McCarrick’s cronies, Cardinal Blase Cupich in Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin in Newark, sit on a powerful Vatican congregation that selects bishops for the United States. (According to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio to the United States, McCarrick “orchestrated” the elevations of Tobin and Cupich in the Church.)
Cardinal Donald Wuerl was made aware of an allegation of misconduct against McCarrick at least 13 years before the scandal broke. The formal complaint reportedly concerned McCarrick’s behavior at his New Jersey beach house, where McCarrick has admitted he shared beds with seminarians. Wuerl is now enjoying a comfortable retirement.
Meanwhile, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, a top official at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), resigned due to a report by The Pillar establishing Burrill’s extensive use of Grindr, a gay hookup app.
. . .
These stories illuminate the homosexual ecclesiastical culture which had protected McCarrick for decades. But, of course, the Catholic establishment refuses to make that admission. It is outraged not by that culture, but by its exposure.
Jesuit Father James Martin, who openly contradicts the Church’s teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts, blasted The Pillar for daring to obtain Grindr data. All the usual defenders of the gay culture in the Church chimed in with similar condemnations, including the Washington Post. Suddenly the Post, which published the Pentagon Papers and countless other works of audacious investigative journalism, is fretting over “surveillance-ethics.”
Voices within the Church defending Burrill and tut-tutting The Pillar’s exposes used similar rationalizations to avert their gazes from McCarrick’s misconduct. That is, the post-McCarrick Church looks pretty much the same as the pre-McCarrick Church. The laxity and lack of vigilance that McCarrick exploited is exactly what permitted Burrill to rise to the top of the USCCB. Instead of apologizing to the faithful for yet another demoralizing scandal, the bishops use proxies at heterodox publications such as the National Catholic Reporter to whine about violations of “privacy” and so forth.
. . .
Had The Pillar not exposed Monsignor Burrill, he would undoubtedly have risen higher in the Church. The USCCB has yet to condemn his conduct. He hasn’t even been suspended as a priest by his local bishop, Bishop William Callahan. Just as the bishops played dumb about McCarrick’s misconduct — some bishops insisted his sleeping with seminarians wasn’t sexual, as even the Vatican report on the scandal noted — so Callahan is pretending that Burrill’s extensive Grindr usage doesn’t establish impropriety.
The Church establishment maintains the big lie that a gay priestly culture played no significant role in the abuse scandal, even though most of its victims have been teenage boys. The protégés of McCarrick, such as Cupich and Tobin, refuse to address that issue. Instead, they give their blessing to Fr. James Martin to push LGBTQ causes in the Church.
The bishops act as if the McCarrick scandal is behind them. But it isn’t. Its fundamental causes remain largely unaddressed, as the Burrill scandal proves. The bishops deflect attention from their own derelictions of duty by complaining about intrusive media. But that is simply a function of their own passivity.
Because the bishops won’t reform the Church, members of the laity have taken up that task. To the extent that the Church is changing, that is due more to pressure from outside sources — lawyers, prosecutors, journalists — than any internal accountability.
Churchmen have washed their hands of McCarrick. But his stain is not so easily erased. As his upcoming criminal trial unfolds, the faithful will have every right to ask: If the Church is past McCarrick, why are his “nephews” still running it?
There’s more at the link.
Rod Dreher received a message from a friend who is a priest, concerning the resignation of Mgr. Burrill. It reads in part:
Rod, this is HUGE. In articles he is described as being “responsible for sex abuse cases“ and being a sort of administrator. But he was the equivalent of the CEO of the United States’ bishops’ official organization. In some respects he had more power than many bishops.
Furthermore, priest employees of the USCCB are supposedly subject to very intense vetting. I know of this both first and secondhand. Mostly what the Conference is looking for is what has been termed “French-cuffed moderates.” These are priests who have learned to be smooth, work the system, never say anything that will create controversy, etc. But they also supposedly look into a priest’s background to make sure that he is “suitable” and won’t turn into a source of scandal. Obviously that sort of vetting failed in this instance.
Or perhaps “failure“ is not the correct term. Given that this priest had been engaged in this sort of behavior for so long and so comprehensively (even whilst traveling on USCCB business, for God’s sake!) there’s no way that some of his confreres and even some bishops didn’t know about this. This guy was groomed and prepared and protected to get to his position. Make no mistake. If the church is fortunate, he or someone who know will spill the beans, and other shoes will drop. God send that that will happen!
Bold, underlined text above is my emphasis. Dreher responds:
This is staggering news. It really is. Almost twenty years after the scandal broke nationwide out of Boston, and after years of Catholic bishops assuring the faithful that the scandal was behind them, a gay pick-up artist was in place as the top non-episcopal USCCB official, and even coordinating efforts to respond to the scandal.
What are Catholics supposed to think? Back in 2002, I got into an argument with a bishop about my writing on the scandal, which he wanted me to stop doing. I finally told him that as a Catholic, one of the reasons I did this writing and reporting was because I did not trust the bishops to clean up the mess. He said to me, “If you don’t trust the bishops, why are you still a Catholic?” Fortunately, I knew that my Catholicism did not require me to believe that particular bishops are moral or competent; I only had to believe that they were validly ordained. But that bishop’s response was truer than I realized at the time. Once I came to believe that the entire clerical institution was honeycombed with sexually active gay men who had no intention of obeying their vows, and by bishops and church officials (straight or gay) who had no intention of stopping them, I began to question the entire Catholic model.
One day I realized that if one of my sons, small children at the time, told me that he felt a calling to the Catholic priesthood, I would throw myself in front of him to prevent him from entering into that pit of vipers. That was a shock. I knew then that my faith was in trouble. And so it proved to be.
. . .
How blind do you have to be to think that the fix isn’t in? Do you remember who was put in charge of the USCCB’s initial 2002 response to the Catholic sex abuse scandal? Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
. . .
And so, in the Year of Our Lord 2021, nineteen years after Boston, and three years after the Church moved against Theodore McCarrick, it fell to faithful Catholic journalists to reveal that the top administrative official at the USCCB, the man in charge of leading the US bishops’ response to sex abuse, is in fact a sexually compulsive closet case.
Shocking, but at this point, not surprising. How are people supposed to trust this organization? I don’t know.
. . .
Popes, patriarchs, bishops, priests, pastors — Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, whatever — shouldn’t make it harder for the faithful to hold on, is all I’m saying. And the Catholic Church should once and for all look hard at the problem of sexually active gay men in the priesthood. The media won’t do it (except for tough, faithfully Catholic journalists like J.D. Flynn and Ed Condon at The Pillar) — but until and unless it is done, nothing will change.
Again, more at the link.
I think that yet again, the media have proved to be emissaries of the Holy Spirit in revealing the corruption that infests the Church. At the time of the earlier crisis over clergy child sexual abuse, I wrote:
As for the media, I believed (and still do) that there was more than enough justification for a ‘witch-hunt’ on their part. Because the scandal had been covered up for so long, and because it had been made worse by the bad decisions of many bishops, it was inevitable that its exposure would cause a sensation. Furthermore, the bishops had signally failed in their duty to protect the faithful, instead choosing to protect their own position and authority, and the institution they served. I was taught at seminary that the Church exists to serve Christ by, in and through serving the People of God. If it fails in the latter endeavor, it automatically fails in the former as well. The media attention being paid to the scandal was simply driving home that truth with renewed force, as far as I was concerned.
I also had to ask whether God wasn’t deliberately using the news media to accomplish something He’d been trying to get His bishops to do for years – decades! – without success. Since they’d so signally failed in their responsibilities, it seemed to me that the Lord appeared to be using the news media instead – conspicuously less than holy though it might be in many ways – to clean up His Church. Needless to say, my hypothesis wasn’t greeted with unbridled enthusiasm by ecclesiastical authorities.
I don’t suppose any Bishop paid any attention to what I said then, and I doubt they’re paying any attention to it now. I was one of those “rebels” who would not kowtow to their authority and let them get away with it. I no longer have anything to say that would interest them, unless I were to surrender completely, and recant my views and my position, and acknowledge that they and the Catholic Church were right all along.
It saddens me more than I have words to say that, almost two decades after my own crisis of conscience and its result, very little has changed. The Catholic faithful are still being misled by an entrenched “lavender Mafia” that has no intention of giving up its positions of power, or of being faithful to the moral teachings of Christ, or of being shepherds of the flock instead of wolves preying upon it.
Unless and until the bishops of the Catholic Church, jointly and severally, act to root out this corruption in their midst, and among their clergy, the Church will continue to be hamstrung in her mission. It cannot be otherwise.
As for those bishops who are guilty of active involvement in, or passive tolerance of, such moral depravity . . . they are, indeed, demonstrating that they are successors to the Apostles – but not to all of them. They’re successors to one Apostle in particular.
His name was Judas.