Three days ago, Catholic News Agency reported on new allegations against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and on the existence of a corrupt gay subculture among priests of the archdiocese. CNA’s source: anonymous Newark priests. Excerpt:
One priest ordained in the early years of McCarrick’s term in Newark said that “a lot of people lost their innocence in the seminary.”
He told CNA that there were two distinct groups of students. “You had the men who were there because they had a deep love of the Lord and a vocation to serve his Church,” he said, adding that those men were the majority of seminarians.
“But there was a subculture, with its own group of men, that was openly homosexual and petty and vindictive with everyone else,” he explained.
The same priest said that before he entered the seminary he was warned he would “see things that weren’t right.” He said he was counseled by an older priest to “just remember who you are and why you are there.”
Several Newark priests told CNA that the same atmosphere existed under Archbishop John Myers, who led the archdiocese from 2001-2016.
One priest who studied during that period recalled being told, as a newly arrived seminarian, to lock his bedroom door at night to avoid “visitors.”
“I thought they were kidding – they really weren’t,” he said.
Another priest told CNA that, as a senior seminarian and transitional deacon, young seminarians would come to him in tears.
“They were just so scandalized by what they saw, these upperclassmen flagrantly carrying on with each other in gay relationships.”
A third priest says that these seminarians were frequently visited by other priests of the diocese, some of whom he later saw at the rectory cocktail parties.
“There was definitely a group of, well I guess we’re calling them ‘uncles’ now. They would come by to visit with the effeminate crowd, bring them stuff and take them out,” he said.
One priest told CNA that, in his judgment, many of Newark’s priests felt resigned to that culture, even after McCarrick left.
“It is so horrible, so repulsive, no one wants to look straight at it,” one priest said. “You don’t want to see it and at the same time you can’t miss it.”
Cardinal Joseph Tobin — you’ll remember him from this accidental tweet:
… was not amused. You’d think he would be outraged that something like this was going on in his archdiocese, which he took over from Archbishop Myers, and vow to clean out the Augean stables. Erm, not so much.
In response, he fired off this letter to his priests:
It is beyond ridiculous that Cardinal Tobin claims no knowledge of a gay subculture in the Newark presbyterate. How stupid does he think people are?
If you read the CNA story, you’ll see that the “personal crisis” of Father O’Malley, the one that caused him to be removed as seminary rector, involved secretly planting cameras in another priest’s bedroom. That’s not exactly the heartbreak of psioriasis. Now, according to Cardinal Tobin, a psychologist has cleared O’Malley for ministry, and he wants to be a hospital chaplain. Do hospital patients really want to get spiritual care from an alleged peeping tom? This is more of the same bishop behavior that got the Catholic Church into so much trouble in the first place: use a psychological evaluation as cover to return a morally unfit man to the priesthood, with no thought given to the ordinary people he would serve. Such is how the recycling division of the Sacrament Factory works.
It’s almost touching that Tobin forbids priests (and, I’m told, all employees of the archdiocese) to talk to the media. He’s lost control of this story now. I suspect that most, maybe all, bishops have. Priests and lay employees know that if they want to see change, they’re going to have to take action on their own.
For example, there was a remarkable homily from the pastor of a Philadelphia parish yesterday. “We’re not going to let the bishops come up with a plan, because they’ve proven that they can’t come up with a plan that works,” said the pastor of St. Raymond Penafort parish (at the 6:00 mark). He added that he and other pastors and lay leaders are going to come up with a plan of action, and not wait around for the Archdiocese to get its act together. Said the pastor, “Enough is enough.”
My source for the Newark letter adds:
I have lost all respect for Tobin, who clearly intends to keep the status quo.
What’s going to be well worth watching nationwide is what happens when priests and lay persons working in chanceries realize at long last that they cannot rely on the bishops to deal effectively and straightforwardly with this crisis — and that the most reliable strategy is going to the police and/or to the media.
Anyway, Tobin will soon be off to Ireland, where he will be a speaker at the World Meeting of Families:
He claimed earlier this year that he meant the “Nighty-Night Baby, I Love You” tweet for his sister. So maybe he can address the faithful about the reality of that love in family life, even as he denies knowledge of the existence of the lavender mafia in his own archdiocese — despite the fact that his predecessor Cardinal McCarrick was a godfather in the thing.