If ‘everybody knew’ about Cardinal McCarrick, the corruption runs deep

If ‘everybody knew’ about Cardinal McCarrick, the corruption runs deep

By Phil Lawler | Jun 22, 2018

Now at last the truth about Cardinal McCarrick’s misconduct has become public knowledge. If my email traffic is any indication, many more stories will soon emerge. But Rod Dreher drives right to the central point in his follow-up column, entitled “Cardinal McCarrick: Everybody Knew.

There’s a bit of exaggeration in that headline, because not “everybody” knew about the cardinal’s homosexual approaches to seminarians. The ordinary people in the pews didn’t know. But those seminarians knew, and the word spread across the clerical grapevine.

Now at last we know, too, that complaints had been lodged against the cardinal. These complaints, we are told, did not involve minors—and that’s all we are told about the complaints, apart from the fact that they were settled. But in light of those complaints, and in light of the many stories involving seminarians, it would be naïve to suggest that the cardinal has now been brought to disgrace because of a single, isolated incident. The seminarians may have been of legal age, but they were not a bishop’s equals. His position gave McCarrick the opportunity to recruit young men and to silence those who rejected his advances, and he abused a sacred trust.

Earlier this week I asked rhetorically why reporters did not follow up on this story years ago, since many journalists were numbered among the “everybody” who knew about Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual activities. Julia Duin, the longtime religion writer for the Washington Times, has answered by question in a column of her own, recalling that she could not find sources willing to speak on the record, or editors willing to give her the latitude to probe further into the reports. Moreover, she writes, she ran into a wall of silence among Catholics: an unwillingness to discuss a prelate’s misdeeds. “There were priests and laity alike for whom McCarrick’s predilections were an open secret,” she writes, “but no one wanted to go after him.”

For journalists, the reluctance to “go after” a prominent Catholic leader is understandable. No reporter wants to be accused of slandering a revered public figure, and no reporter wants to be hit with a libel suit. Still there have been plenty of hostile reports about Catholic bishops in the American media over the past 15 years; it is remarkable that writers and editors—who usually know how to imply misconduct without running afoul of libel law—had so little interest in this sensational story. Could it be because they, for their own reasons, also wanted to maintain the standing of a liberal cardinal?

Still the silence of the seminarians, and the lack of curiosity among journalists, are not nearly as appalling as the complicity of other Church leaders. If “everybody” knew, surely some American bishops knew. Why did they not confront Cardinal McCarrick, denounce his behavior, demand his resignation? Why did they tolerate a predator?

During the “Long Lent” of 2002, the American Catholic laity learned that our bishops had betrayed us, protecting guilty clerics rather than innocent young people. Now we see that, sadly, the betrayal did not end with the approval of the Dallas Charter.

If the American Catholic hierarchy is serious about reform, the response to Cardinal McCarrick’s disgrace will not end with a few ritual statements of regret. Our bishops should—if they have the stomach for the task—ask themselves how what “everybody knew” was allowed to continue. Who was responsible for this flawed priest’s rise through the clerical ranks? Who were his allies, his protectors and enablers? And when he reached the zenith of his influence, who were the prelates who flourished under his tutelage?

Any bishop who asks those questions will, I realize, become very unpopular among his colleagues. So it may seem that I am making an unrealistic request. But today we celebrate the feast of St. John Fisher, who took a bold stand for the integrity of the faith at a time when every other English bishop—every single one—backed down. Oremus.

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19 comments on “If ‘everybody knew’ about Cardinal McCarrick, the corruption runs deep

  1. “Who was responsible for this flawed priest’s rise through the clerical ranks? Who were his allies, his protectors and enablers?”

    Good questions.

    But let’s all stop playing stupid. The enablers are in everyone’s midst.

    Father Theodore Hesburgh was tapped and recruited by the Rockefeller Foundation to soften up Catholics at Notre Dame for population control on behalf of an agenda by anti-Catholic secret societies to weaken the Catholic Church. Land O’Lakes was their spearhead to destroy Catholic identity at Catholic colleges and universities in order to impose this agenda. There has been a loose confederation of clerical masonry, homosexuals, and quasi-Marxist clergy attacking Catholic doctrine and institutions at least since the 1960s and Vatican II. How many of the modernist heretics pretending to be priests do you suspect are homosexuals in a high-risk category for abuse allegations? If you could prove it would your bishop do anything about it? Who has any trust that “who am I to judge?” Pope Francis would back them up to root out the problem? There’s a Catholic version of the Deep State, filled with modernist heretic homo Marxists in the church bureaucracy. They love their beach houses for weekend escapes, paid for with pilfered diocesan funds.

    Father Martin, S.J. likes his CNN gig. Ask them about it.

    His Opus Dei buddy at Princeton playing stupid is part of the problem.

  2. OK, who is the closet case “prominent conservative layman” who tried to kill the story in 2002? And who is the prominent conservative clergyman who defended McCarrick? You can’t raise the flag of hysteria over people keeping quiet, blaming them, while playing that game from the ex-convert sidelines.


    If you’re going to be a gossip columnist on clerical Queergate deliver the National Enquirer tabloid story. Don’t just drop hints while playing the helpless beta male “sky is falling” routine. Take out the enablers like Dirty Harry.

    • Because I usually play the “helpless beta male ‘sky is falling’ routine,” I’ll drop some fake hints on the events and the order of their occurrence:

      The prominent conservative clergyman who defended the Cardinal was being blackmailed (“I’ll take you down with me”) and gave him the money to cover his reputation.

      The prominent conservative layman who tried to kill the story was a blackmailer who needed the money to cover his expenses.

  3. OK, we’ll all play by The American Conservative‘s standards for Homogate journalism.

    If what is alleged happened as reported, why didn’t the groped seminarian punch and kick the cardinal away immediately when he was trying to bugger him? It seems like we need to teach boxing, martial arts, and self-defense at Catholic high schools. Seminarians should carry mace and pepper spray with them at all times.

    If it happened as alleged the seminarian should go on the record and report the crime.

    Who here, among normal men, would willingly get in bed with a cardinal in a beach house? That just doesn’t make sense.

  4. Following the clues. One guess would be Neuhaus for the clergyman and the layman, someone from EWTN or National Review. How many potential closet case laymen would that include? How does Dreher know the guy was a closet case? Psychic gaydar or late-night drunken tell-all confession?

  5. Whoever pulls the puppet strings for modernist cardinal appointments to Washington for the Novus Ordo carnival, let’s examine the Washington and Massachusetts ends of the spectrum on that. When the cardinal was put in place in Washington, there were significant pseudo-Catholic liberal politicians seeking cover for pro-abortionism. Who needed cover on abortion exactly? Oh, what do you know, Senator John Kerry needed Cardinal McCarrick’s nod and wink in the 2004 U.S. presidential election, at least the studied ambiguity of a dissembling modernist who likes to share his bed with seminarians:

    Kerry’s Communion, Robert Novak, May 3, 2004


    McCarrick tempered letter on pro-choice politicians
    By – The Washington Times – Wednesday, July 7, 2004

    Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick downplayed a letter to the U.S. Catholic bishops from the Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog on whether priests should refuse Communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians.

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent his letter in early June to Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in the context of dealing with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, a Catholic whose positions on several issues, including abortion, contradict church teachings.

    But its full text, which was published Saturday in the Italian newspaper L’Expresso, contains much stronger language than Cardinal McCarrick used last month at a meeting of the country’s Catholic bishops near Denver.

    Cardinal McCarrick’s nuanced speech during the meeting from June 14 to 19 paraphrased the Ratzinger letter to say that the Vatican had left the issue of Communion in the hands of the U.S. bishops.

    As the chairman of a task force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, it was his job to convey what Vatican officials had told him during meetings in Rome.

    “I would emphasize that Cardinal Ratzinger clearly leaves to us as teachers, pastors and leaders WHETHER to pursue this path” of denying Communion, Cardinal McCarrick told the bishops in his speech, the text of which is posted at the U.S. bishops’ Web site, on www.usccb.org.

    “The question for us is not simply whether denial of Communion is possible, but whether it is pastorally wise and prudent,” the cardinal said.

    As a result, bishops voted 183-6 on a compromise statement allowing each bishop to decide whether to give Communion to pro-choice politicians.

    Before the meeting, 15 bishops had released statements suggesting that pro-choice politicians refrain from taking the Eucharist, and four bishops forbade such politicians from doing so.

    However, the Ratzinger letter says that denial of Communion is obligatory “regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia.”

    Cardinal Ratzinger also says a priest should warn “the person in question” of the consequences, including the denial of Communion.

    If “the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it,” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.

    The letter’s last paragraph also takes on Catholics who vote for candidates because of their pro-choice stance.

    “If he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia,” that Catholic too “would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion,” it reads.

    That statement supports Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan, who on May 1 sent out a letter to his diocese saying Catholics who vote for candidates who support abortion, stem-cell research or euthanasia also should not take Communion.

    But Catholics who vote for that politician on other grounds should not be penalized, the Ratzinger letter adds.

    “Ratzinger’s letter was stronger and firmer than we were led to believe,” said Michael Novak, a Catholic theologian and author of many books on the church, who is in Italy this week. “It’s pretty dynamite stuff.”

    Before leaving for Italy, he had heard of “dissatisfaction” in Rome over how Cardinal McCarrick was representing the church’s teachings.

    “I had heard Rome was much tougher than Cardinal McCarrick was letting on,” he said. “Some people in the Vatican were upset that McCarrick was putting on too kind a face on it.”

    Cardinal McCarrick was out of town yesterday, but a spokeswoman released a statement saying he had not read L’Expresso reporter Sandro Magister’s report on the letter.

    “From what I have heard, it may represent an incomplete and partial leak of a private communication from Cardinal Ratzinger, and it may not accurately reflect the full message I received,” the cardinal said.

    “Our task force’s dialogue with the Holy See on these matters has been extensive, in person, by phone and in writing. I should note I was specifically requested by the cardinal not to publish his written materials, and I will honor that request.”

    Raymond Flynn, the ambassador to the Vatican from 1993 to 1997, said American prelates often downplay the Vatican’s instructions.

    “The American church has been reluctant to speak out forcefully on a lot of these issues, whereas Pope John Paul II has instructed the Catholic Church to be more assertive,” said Mr. Flynn, a conservative Democrat and former mayor of Boston.

    “A lot of these American bishops aren’t willing to get involved because of the backlash, because it’s not politically correct, and the criticism they will receive from the liberal media,” he said.
    Then again later:
    Cardinal McCarrick Accuses his Brother Bishops of “Partisan” Politics
    By Hilary White
    June 19, 2006
    WASHINGTON, June 19, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The task force appointed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to “study” the issue of whether or not to give communion to Catholic politicians who persistently hold positions at odds with Catholic teaching has released its final report this weekend.

    After years of deliberation and meetings, the verdict is in: bishops should decide for themselves. Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington and head of the task force, reiterated the interim decision made by the US bishops at their meeting in Denver in 2004. He said there was “no substitute for the local bishop’s pastoral judgment and his vital relationships with Catholic public officials in his own diocese.”

    The only addition Cardinal McCarrick – who claims to be a political “moderate” – made to the original conclusion was to scold some members of the Conference for what he called “partisan” politics which he said was becoming prevalent in the US Church.

    McCarrick said, “My concern is the fear that the intense polarization and bitter battles of partisan politics may be seeping into the broader ecclesial life of our Catholic people and maybe even of our Conference.”

    Since the 1960’s the Democratic party, traditionally supported by the US Catholic bishops, has forced the political “centre” further to the left, adopting abortion, euthanasia and same-sex “marriage”.

    While most bishops have remained silent on the matter, a small cadre of younger bishops such as Charles Chaput of Denver, Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln and Raymond Burke of St. Louis, have in recent years begun to shift the Church – at least in their own dioceses – away from adherence to the Democrat party line and called on Catholics to uphold the moral law in public life. A number of these announced as a kind of “minority report” to the Dallas decision that abortion-supporting politicians in their dioceses would be refused Communion.

    Cardinal McCarrick refers to himself as a political ‘moderate’. During the presidential election, McCarrick was lauded by Democrats and liberal media for his “balance” in the face of the abortion/Communion question. He told the media, “I have not gotten to the stage where I’m comfortable in denying the Eucharist.”

    The Cardinal’s response infuriated pro-life Catholics who were calling on the bishops to present a united front against politicians, such as then-presidential candidate John Kerry, who used the name Catholic and promoted unrestricted abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia.

    American Life League launched a full-page ad in the Washington Times that featured a close-up picture of the crucified Christ and the text, “Cardinal McCarrick, are you comfortable now?”

    For the Democratic Party it was very convenient to have McCarrick in a top position in the American Church.
    Remember those emails from the Hillary campaign to Podesta on the “Catholic Spring” they have Soros & Co. working on to neuter Catholic opposition to abortion and population control.

    • “That statement supports Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan, who on May 1 sent out a letter to his diocese saying Catholics who vote for candidates who support abortion, stem-cell research or euthanasia also should not take Communion.”
      As an aside, may I remind readers that this bishop is the same one who published a declaration against the Servants of the Holy Family on the diocesan website accusing this small group of priests of being outside the Church because since 1977 they have steadfastly refused the newchurch enticements to depart from centuries-old Catholic doctrine and dogma.

      • Similar to Lincoln, Nebraska, “conservative” Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz’s 1996 declaration forbidding membership under pain of excommunication in ten different groups that he considered “always perilous to …and … totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith” – including the Society of Saint Pius X!

        • Tom,
          With respect to the actions by these bishops no doubt we will hear the refrain: “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them and whose sins your shall retain they are retained.” However, I believe, based on the fact that Almighty God is All-Good and All-Just, that the actions of priests and bishops have to be taken in this context – i.e., that they cannot retain as “evil” that which is not evil nor sustain good which is not good.
          IMHO this lies at the base of the difficulties we see in the Church today and goes to the very top, even to the papacy. If I am wrong in my perception, I wish someone would explain why.

  6. More from the article:

    “Many Catholics pointed out that the work of the task force had been done for them. The Church’s Code of Canon Law is clear on the subject saying that anyone who is in a state of “manifest grave sin” – which in Catholic teaching includes voting for or supporting the killing of children – must be refused Communion.

    A number of Vatican prelates, including the future Pope Benedict XVI, made it clear that politicians who openly advocated abortion, same-sex “marriage”, or civil unions for homosexual partners were to be refused Communion.

    While the bishops were meeting in Dallas, McCarrick went so far as to suppress crucial instructions from then-Cardinal Ratzinger who was head of the Church’s doctrinal office. Ratzinger’s letter said unambiguously that politicians who denied fundamental Catholic doctrine “must be refused” Communion. ”

    Related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

    Ad Campaign Questions Cardinal McCarrick’s ‘Discomfort’ With Denying Communion to Pro-Abort Politicians

    Washington Cardinal McCarrick Says He Supports Same-Sex Civil Unions on CNN

    Controversy Heats up over Cardinal McCarrick Downplaying Vatican Direction on Communion

    Highest Authorities in Vatican Back Denial of Communion to Pro-Abortion Politicians

  7. The suppression of the Latin Mass (and any other aspect of Catholic orthodoxy) is illegitimate and immoral on several grounds. First, it is a contradiction of reason and common sense. It also goes against the established Magisterium and tradition. It also violates documents and proclamations of previous popes (particularly, the 1570 papal bull of Pope Pius V Quo Primum) which have legislative authority canonically and are part of the established teaching of the Catholic Church.


    Pope Pius V: “No one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should anyone dare to contravene it, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.”

    The attempt to suppress the Latin Mass by modernist heretics and their enablers is, therefore, illicit, immoral, and in contradiction with previous papal authority. No one can compel validly-ordained Roman Catholic priests from saying the traditional Latin Mass or, likewise, attempt to prohibit Catholic laity from attending the traditional Latin Mass. Any statement or assertion by a reigning bishop of the institutional Church which contains such contradictions is in error. There is no duty for a lay Catholic to obey a modernist error. In fact, you have a duty to correct and admonish modernist heretics for such errors. We may, therefore, admonish them for that now and call their attention to this error and the travesty and absurdity of the modernist heresy, a calamity for both civilization and the faith which becomes more evident and clear with every passing minute of the Bergoglian pontificate and the heretical Spirit of Vatican II.

    Discussion on Firing Line: “The Fight over Catholic Orthodoxy” with Michael Davies, Joseph Champlin, and Malachi Martin (1980).

    • I’m with you on this, Howl.
      When I was in an SSPX seminary I was told that Quo Primum was not really a good argument for proving that the Novus Ordo Missae was illegitimately promulgated, and thus of no effect.
      The rationale was that Quo Primum was legislation treating of a disciplinary matter, and since the pope is the highest legislator in the Church, any given pope currently reigning is also the highest legislator; he is equal to his predecessors, and thus he could change their legislation, just as they themselves could have done when they were alive.
      While the rationale is, I am certain, correct, I believe that it does NOT lead to a conclusion that Quo Primum can be abrogated or derogated.
      First of all, there is this dogmatic canon of Trent:
      “If anyone shall say that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church accustomed to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments may be disdained or omitted by the minister without sin, and at pleasure, *or may be changed by whatsoever pastor of the churches to other new ones*: let him be anathema.”
      Pope St. Pius V, being contemporary with Trent and all the goings on and discussions concerning every part of it, would assuredly not have used language forbidding even his successors from changing the Tridentine Mass unless he thought the expression “whatsoever pastor” includes the pope.
      Now obviously this does not mean that St. Pius V’s changes to the Mass, and thus the Tridentine Mass itself, were illegitimate; it cannot mean that minor and organic changes, such as the introduction of a new feast day for a saint, or the suppression of an old one, are illegitimate. This has actually been done, as all know, many, many times in history, without controversy. Against a fact there is no argument, so these changes are legitimate if promulgated by the proper authority.
      But Quo Primum speaks of the Traditional rite of Mass, as merely extracted by St. Pius V from local variations of usage. In other words, it speaks of the rite as a whole.
      Thus Trent’s words were interpreted by him in their plain sense. Again: “the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church…may [not] be changed by whatsoever pastor of the churches to *other* new [i.e. essentially different] ones.”
      And as the Ottaviani Intervention says: “the Novus Ordo represents, both *as a whole* and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The canons of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.”
      The Novus Ordo is indeed an “other” and “new” rite, because it departs “as a whole” from the Traditional Mass.
      Yes, the pope is the supreme legislator. Yes, he is not bound to the disciplinary legislation of his predecessors…EXCEPT when that previous legislation merely sets down what has already been established by Tradition as *essential* dogma, morals or practice.
      And so Quo Primum IS a good argument against the legitimacy of the N.O., for it is founded on a dogmatic canon of Trent, which itself is founded on the Infallible Ordinary Magisterium of Tradition.
      In other words, just as there is tradition and Tradition, there is discipline and Discipline.
      The Novus Ordo must be simply thrown in the trash bin. By the nature of things, it can never be legitimized. The reform of the reform is a chimera. The Tridentine rite, as well as all other Traditional rites (Eastern, etc.) remain alone acceptable.

      • I agree that Quo Primum, along with the dogmatic canon of Trent, provides the solid argument against the legitimate promulgation of the Novus Ordo. Especially since at issue is the canonized discipline regarding a sacrament, which necessarily falls under the category of faith.
        However, I am curious if your SSPX seminary professors taught that Quo Primum was not the best argument against the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo, then what was their argument against its legitimacy?

        • Basically it amounted to this:
          M: According to the law of Lex Orandi Est Lex Credendi, the Novus Ordo, at best, constitutes an expression of the Faith which is highly inferior to that of the Tridentine liturgy. Indeed, it can be shown that it actually tends toward Protestantism.
          m: It is impossible that Christ could wish His vicar or His Church to make changes to the liturgy that are worse than what the Church had before; that obscure the Faith, or that favor Protestantism. On the contrary, He (Truth Itself) constituted His Church, among other things, to “go and teach all nations”; to make the Faith more clear, not more obscure.
          c: Therefore, the promulgation of the Novus Ordo cannot be legitimate; it falls completely outside the mandate of the Church or the pope (who is the Vicar of Christ), and in fact is contrary to it, and the faithful must therefore refuse it.
          1) This is my own take on what I was taught at the time; it is not an official SSPX position.
          2) That take occurred over 25 years ago; even if entirely accurate, it does not necessarily represent the current SSPX position.
          3) It is highly debatable whether the SSPX ever even had, or has now, an official position on this.

  8. Every seminary and Catholic college should offer a good, solid course on pre-Vatican II liturgical history with a focus on Quo Primum, Summorum_Pontificum, Gregorian chant, and previous missals.

    If every Catholic high school were teaching ecclesiastical Latin with enough attention on Gregorian chant and the Vulgate it would help the Church a lot, particularly for preparing those considering religious vocations, but also to promote the Latin Mass (rather than suppressing it which has been the modernist agenda).

  9. Someone should do a documentary on pre-Vatican II liturgical history with a focus on Quo Primum, Summorum Pontificum, Gregorian chant, and previous missals (and get it on EWTN).

    There is no reason for young Catholics to reach adulthood without some knowledge of the history of the Mass and Catholic liturgical prayers, Latin chants and sacred music (except for the laziness and modernist heresy of the USCCB).

    I understand CUA is looking for ways to attract applicants and students. Note to Classics scholars there. Is there something preventing you from getting the Latin heritage of the Catholic Church in living color on to EWTN? You should be televising a course on ecclesiastical and medieval scholastic Latin.

    • Good idea.
      Upcoming generations cannot possibly have a sense, in the same way that we do, of the huge betrayal that Vat II was to Christ’s Church. They weren’t there to face the necessity, that each individual had, to sort through all the confusion; to debate the true obedience vs. false obedience thing, the limits of hierarchical authority, especially that of the pope, the similarities of the Novus Ordo to Cranmer’s Protestant “Mass”, the Neo-Modernist question, etc.
      Maybe a start on this though would be the documentary film the SSPX made on its own origins.
      Of course, each generation has its own battles to fight.
      The youth raised as Traditionalists today have a different trial by a different fire.
      I suspect in the main that this new trial is simply the fearsomely strong pull of original sin and sensual selfishness, reinforced by the omnipresent *accessibility* of sensual pleasures, that makes young dumb youth want to throw off the mortification always necessary to acquire virtue and true happiness. It starts, perhaps, with the temptation to try to have one’s cake and eat it too; to get in the habit of always asking the question: “What’s the most pleasure I can get out of this world…without going to hell?”
      This principle of action, practiced long enough, leads to another: “What’s the most pleasure I can get out of this world?”
      And then you go to hell… eventually even in this world.

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