I don’t believe that the main reason that Christianity is collapsing in America is because of church scandals. It has much more to do with broader and deeper trends in modernity — with science, with capitalism, with technology, with the Sexual Revolution. But the churches have hurt themselves tremendously with their sex scandals. A Protestant friend who has been having to deal with this in his denomination told me it is taking a tremendous toll on him. You should know that just because you don’t see it reported in the media, there’s still a lot going on on the scandal front.
Today the Washington Post reports that seven more men are claiming that they were molested by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as boys — and that these claims are known to the Vatican. In fact, these boys — now men — testified in the Vatican’s own investigation of McCarrick, and in law enforcement’s investigation. One of those boys, whose identity the Post is withholding, per its policy, has written an anonymous essay online, called “Essay For The Faithful.” You should read it. He talks about how Uncle Ted was covered in Teflon:
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?
In this excerpt, he answers a couple of questions; “The Nathans” is the term he uses for himself and the other McCarrick abuse victims:
Why is the Vatican’s report on McCarrick taking so long?
I have no insights at all into who is writing that report and how all of that will work. 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.
If there is one thing I am sure that Church and civilian authorities can all agree on, it is that 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. I am personally inclined to grant all of the investigators all the time they need to do whatever work is necessary to get this done right once and for all.
How could people around McCarrick not have known?
In my view, this is a lazy question. Also, I often see this question get weaponized by special interest groups, usually with cunning precision. If you were to ask any one of the The Nathans that question, each of us would tell you that unless that person in close proximity to McCarrick was (A) a male, (B) of the right age, (C) during the right period of time, it is extremely unlikely they were aware of what was truly going on. We wouldn’t say that because we are wishfully assuming the best in people or giving them the benefit of the doubt. We would say that because we saw how McCarrick groomed, stalked, and eventually preyed on us. We know better than anyone how careful he was about covering his tracks.
I have no problem at all accepting the idea that there were people close to McCarrick who never saw this coming. If you think you are freaking out, you should see my family. Think about how sick this is: They feel guilty and complicit for not knowing that this happened under their noses all those years ago. I feel guilty and complicit for never having the courage to tell them what McCarrick did to me and for going along with his charade all these years. Meanwhile, the only person who should be feeling guilty about any of this is now giving magazine interviews from inside a friary and telling the whole world that he doesn’t feel guilty about anything. God bless those Capuchin monks. They are better men than me.
Read the whole thing. The author points out that he has known many Catholic priests in his life, and they have all been good men who never harmed him, and in fact helped him. Except one.
I think he is being too easy on the matter of who should be feeling guilty in this thing. In fact, there were people high up in the Church who knew about McCarrick, and who did nothing. I find it plausible that they didn’t know he was abusing minors, but I don’t find that exculpatory at all. They knew that he was forcing himself sexually on seminarians, yet that didn’t make a difference to his rise within the Catholic Church. Last year, Catholic News Service reported that back in 2000, the Vatican had a letter from an American priest warning about McCarrick and seminarians. I was told in 2002, but could not confirm, that a private delegation of prominent lay Catholics went to Rome before McCarrick was named Archbishop of Washington, and met with Vatican officials, telling them that McCarrick was a molester of seminarians, and should not be promoted. Of course McCarrick, a legendary fundraiser for the Church, got his red hat anyway.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has alleged that a number of top Vatican officials knew all about McCarrick, but did nothing. We know that Pope Francis brought McCarrick in from the cold, and made him a special envoy, before everything came crashing down a year ago.
No sir, there are some people who ought to feel guilty about the matter of Theodore McCarrick. It is one thing to have been deceived by the man. But there are senior people in the Catholic Church who were not deceived, who knew what Ted McCarrick was, and said nothing. Whether they kept their silence to protect the Church’s image, or to protect themselves from retribution, or because they were complicit in the same sexual networks as McCarrick — well, that’s something I hope we eventually learn.
I do not expect that we will learn this from the Catholic Church. As usual, it will have to be learned from the courts and the police. The anonymous victim points out that there are multiple criminal investigations of McCarrick underway now.