Time for a reckoning

— Church must confront, change old boys’ network exposed in Vatican’s McCarrick report

In 2002, then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., delivers the keynote address during the graduation of the newly re-named Cardinal McCarrick High School in South Amboy. He has since been defrocked.

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The report refers to her simply as “Mother 1.”

A Manhattan woman with a large brood of mostly boys and an Irish husband, she had become suspicious of then-New York Monsignor Theodore McCarrick, who snaked his way into her family and had her children call him “Uncle Ted.’’

Her husband thought it an honor to have a clergyman take an interest in his children. Mother 1, not so.

Her antennae went up when she learned McCarrick gave her sons alcohol when he took them on trips. He continued to visit even after moving to New Jersey, and, one day, she came home to find McCarrick sitting on the couch with a son on either side of him and a hand on the thigh of each.

By then, it was the early 1980s. She took it upon herself to mail identical anonymous letters accusing McCarrick of abuse to every cardinal in the United States and to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C.

Nothing changed.

“It’s a club of men who all knew about it and had ignored it,” Mother 1 concluded nearly 40 years later in one of three interviews she gave to an investigator working for the Vatican.

She was right.

MASTER MANIPULATOR

Having been ordained in his native New York in 1958, Theodore Edgar McCarrick rose to be an auxiliary bishop there, then crossed the river as the first bishop of the New Jersey’s Metuchen Diocese from 1981-86. He then served as archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese for 14 years before moving to the Washington, D.C., archdiocese and becoming a cardinal.

In all that time, we now know, complaints and rumors of abuse by him fell on deaf ears.

I was among the priests in the Archdiocese of Newark who thought McCarrick’s drippy piety was synthetic. One of our most respected monsignors called him “slippery.”

He was, in fact, a master manipulator who gamed the Catholic system for one goal: to get the red hat of a cardinal, which he did.

The 449-page Vatican “Report on the Holy See’s Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930-2017),’’ released Nov. 10 and carrying 1, 400 footnotes, chronicles his rise and demise once credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors surfaced.

Thorough and meticulous in detail, the report includes many salacious details that wouldn’t be expected from something commissioned by the Vatican. It indicts the clerical system – meaning an all-male leadership – but it doesn’t address what the future might hold.

After reading it, I differ on some of the conclusions drawn by other commentators.

SHOW US THE MONEY TRAIL

Most conspicuously absent from the report’s pages is the money trail.

While it asserts that McCarrick was a prodigious fund-raiser and a natural money man, it falls short of showing how he used the largesse of others to ascend the hierarchy, escape scrutiny and still become a cardinal.

“Overall, the record appears to show that although McCarrick’s fundraising skills were weighed heavily, they were not determinative with respect to major decisions made relating to McCarrick,” wrote U.S. lawyer Jeffrey Lena, who investigated him and authored the report.

“In addition, the examination did not reveal evidence that McCarrick’s customary gift-giving and donations impacted significant decisions made by the Holy See regarding McCarrick during any period,” Lena wrote.

But the report fails to account for why so many members of the hierarchy failed to take evidence of alleged abuse seriously and investigate and, at best, stop him in his tracks.

Later the report stated: “McCarrick began in earnest his customary gift giving to Roman Curia and Nunciature officials, a practice that continued through 2017

The Vatican should reveal these gifts, show us the money trail and hold anyone swayed by money over duty responsible. Otherwise, the Vatican continues to be one of the enablers.

THREE POPES

In my view, three popes have unfairly come under attack for giving McCarrick a pass. Francis took heat, especially from the former apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano, for failing to reign in McCarrick.

But the report shows that once definite proof surfaced in June 2017 that McCarrick sexually assaulted children from the time he was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, Francis removed him from the College of Cardinals and eventually defrocked him, removing him from the clerical state and making him a layman. (It’s unknown where McCarrick, now 90, lives although it’s been reported he’s in Florida.)

The report does implicate the late Pope John Paul II for promoting McCarrick to become the archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000 when rumors of his sexual abuse of seminarians and priests — from his time as the first bishop of Metuchen starting in 1981 — were an open secret.

I think this accusation is a stretch since John Paul’s Parkinson’s had evidently debilitated him and he relied on advice from his staff and other members of his curia, who clearly ignored numerous red flags that surfaced.

Pope Benedict XVI made McCarrick retire from the D.C. post in 2006, after he’d turned 75, and did not allow him to stay the usual several years more, which is common for most cardinals. He also imposed loose voluntary measures for McCarrick to keep a low profile and tone down his travels and media presence, which McCarrick flouted.

Even papal warnings did not deter McCarrick from the high life, according to the report.

GLOBETROTTER

Up until his mid-80s, McCarrick must have traveled the globe a hundred times.

As archbishop of Newark, he would publish scores of letters sent to the priests recounting his global stops, famous people he met and tireless work for the church. McCarrick had a knack of blowing his own horn to make himself appear more important than he really was.

The report notes that the late John Cardinal O’Connor, though, put a kibosh on that. Perhaps jealous that McCarrick was poaching his big New York donors for the Papal Foundation, which would later on contribute to McCarrick’s red hat, O’Connor called out McCarrick’s alleged sexual abuses in a 1999 letter to the Apostolic Nuncio in D.C. and said he did not want McCarrick to succeed him.

Other members of the hierarchy saw the letter without confirming it ever got to John Paul.

But, as the report says, McCarrick had been buttering up John Paul and especially his personal secretary, now-retired Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, since he was a New York priest and he pulled out all the stops to become archbishop of Washington, D.C.

‘BLIND OBEDIENCE’

The report does show failures by several now-deceased New Jersey bishops to stop McCarrick, thus allowing him to continue to abuse. Had his Metuchen successor Edward Hughes, for example, followed up on first-hand testimony from seminarians that he sexually abused them, McCarrick might have gone nowhere.

“He did not want to accept that there was sex abuse in the church, much less by a bishop,’’ an unidentified priest of Metuchen told the investigator. “And, as holy a man as he was, he was also a person who believed that nearly blind obedience to bishops was a foundational principle. So, dealing with an issue like this with regard to the archbishop of Newark would have opened a real crack in that foundation. It was not something that this man was ready to do.”

Back then, the only bishop who stood up to McCarrick was James McHugh, a Newark priest who became Bishop of Camden and is now deceased. The report states that he alerted the D.C. nuncio that McCarrick would take seminarians to a Sea Girt shore house and share a bed with them.

Soon after, the house was sold.

ACCOMPLICES?

Sadly, the report adds a footnote that McCarrick priest secretaries, almost 30 from Newark alone, had amnesia about McCarrick’s trysts. Nor is there any evidence that seminary rectors, faculty and even bishops from New Jersey and New York were even interviewed or cited in the report.

McCarrick did not get away with this all by himself. He had willing accomplices who did his bidding blindly.

The report cites a chilling conclusion from a 2019 Seton Hall University investigation, not previously released to the public:

“McCarrick created a culture of fear and intimidation that supported his personal objectives. McCarrick used his position of power as then-archbishop of Newark to sexually harass seminarians.”

‘OLD BOYS’ NETWORK’

Another shortcoming of the investigation is that only a handful of women are mentioned in the voluminous report.

Mother Mary Quentin, superior general of a Michigan order of nuns, is named for reporting to the D.C. nuncio in 1994 that she learned that McCarrick abused a priest. The report quotes that the nuncio dismissed her with a snide comment, “She wanted to make herself appear important.”

Calling out the Catholic church’s misogyny, I believe, is a needed prelude to exposing how the clerical system protected McCarrick and allowed him to become a cardinal.

This report also indicts the secretive system of selecting and promoting bishops.

What is needed is “truth telling,” Chestnut Hill Josephite Sister Catherine Nerney told me in a telephone interview.

“The church has not really been upfront and that needs to happen,” said Nerney, a professor of theology and founding director of the Institute of Forgiveness and Reconciliation at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.

‘CONFONT THE EVIL’

After spending time in Rwanda in 2006 to learn how the country tried to heal from the four-month 1994 civil war that took the lives of almost one million citizens, she learned, she said, that the first thing to do in an overwhelming crisis is to “confront the evil

In Rwanda, small groups came together “for the good of society,” she said, to confront the killers.

Comparing the McCarrick report to that process, Nerney said: “The church has hidden so much that it is complicit and corrupt behind its clerical status.”

In other words, clericalism puts an all-male clergy on a pedestal and uses secrecy to handle its own dirty laundry, so to speak, so it can protect its male members.

Back on Sept. 14, 2018. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin led the Archdiocese of Newark in an evening service of Prayer, Reconciliation and Hope in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Hundreds of clergy, religious and laypeople prayed for the survivors of clergy abuse, their families, the accused, and the church.

One abuse survivor preached quite candidly about what a priest did to him. Some priests pushed back, and two subsequent services decreased in attendance and then stopped.

WILL ANY GOOD COME OF IT?

So, where do we go from here?

Since the McCarrick report was released, nothing has been said about any follow-up by the Vatican or any of the local dioceses where McCarrick served as a bishop. And while the release of the report was historic, this failure is a disappointment.

The church needs to report now what it will do to prevent another McCarrick from abusing with impunity – even being promoted to the highest offices as he was — and what protocols will be put in place

First, the process for selecting priests to become bishops and promoting a bishop to become a diocesan bishop needs to become transparent.

Complete Article HERE!

Sins of the fathers

— Ireland’s sex abuse survivors Access to the comments

Martin Ridge, a retired police inspector, with survivor Martin Gallager.

Revelations of sexual abuse inside the Catholic church shook Ireland to its core. Unreported Europe speaks to those who survived the paedophile priests and examines if the church has truly taken responsibility for the scandal.

By Euronews

Our lives are not as normal as other people who haven’t been abused. The abuse has just changed our attitude to life, changed our attitude to people. —Martin Gallagher, Survivor

Ireland has one of the largest Catholic communities in Europe. The Church is rooted into the culture of the country, but when Pope Francis visited Dublin in 2018 his words divided the nation.

Since 2002, multiple reports and investigations have shed light on nearly 15,000 cases of sexual abuse committed in Ireland between 1970 and 1990.

The pontiff had come to apologise for those crimes carried out by members of the Church’s clergy. For many survivors, the visit and remorse that came with it was far too late.

You know, you only have to do a few Google searches to see loads of examples of popes and bishops saying ‘We didn’t know’. Like the rest of society, we didn’t understand such things were possible. They did. They lied. —Colm O’Gorman, Survivor

‘’they would laugh at us and call us liars’’

Some 500,000 of the faithful were expected to welcome Pope Francis in Dublin. In the end, only 130,000 took part in an open-air mass, a far cry from the 1 million or so who turned out 40 years earlier for John Paul ll’s visit.

The abuse inflicted by Catholic priests is believed to have led to hundreds of suicides. Those that managed to pick up the pieces and face what happened, have been named ‘The Survivors’.

Martin Gallagher is one of them. During his childhood he was sexually abused by Eugene Green, a priest in county Donegal, situated in north west Ireland.

‘’When we were younger and abused, there was nobody to talk to, that we could trust. The priests, we couldn’t go near, they would laugh at us and call us liars,’’ Gallagher told Euronews.

‘’We couldn’t tell our parents, because they would have to go to the priest, and he’d do the same thing to them. We couldn’t tell the guards, because the guards and the priests, and teachers, were all big buddies, they stuck together, so we were alone.

‘’Martin here, came along and started investigating Eugene Green, and that opened up a big page in our life, because it released a lot of pressure, anxiety, depression, all those bad feelings we were building up for years. So just by talking to Martin the first day, that lifted a big load from my shoulders, that somebody was going to help me in the end.’’

Martin Ridge, a retired police inspector was the first to hear Gallagher’s story. In 2008, Ridge published ‘Breaking the Silence’, a book detailing the investigation he conducted against Eugene Green and the abuse committed by the priest between the 1960s and 1990s.

Ridge insists the Catholic church decided not to do anything to stop decades of abuse by Green, even though there were multiple complaints filed against the priest.

‘’I was glad I was there for them, because they educated me too, and they’re educating society,’’ Ridge told Euronews.

‘’Those people are experts because they know what they’re talking about, you see…Martin doesn’t need my platitudes but I’m so grateful, and so are the public for the likes of Martin.

‘’And it is not easy….I would like to say thank you Martin again, and again, and again.‘’ Ridge said.

Thousands of child victims

Martin Gallagher’s story is not an isolated case. Allegations of sexual abuse in Ireland concern some 14,500 children for crimes committed over several decades.

In Europe, Ireland is one of the countries most affected when compared to Belgium, Germany and France, which have registered around several hundred complaints since 2010.

Most of the victims who filed claims in Ireland were in Dublin, Ireland’s biggest diocese. Between 1975 and 2004, twelve priests were responsible for two thirds of the allegations filed in the capital.

In response, the diocese put into place the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service in 2002, alongside an agency run by the state. Andrew Fagan has been its director and coordinator since 2010.

‘’When it became known that, you know, priests had behaved in an abusive way towards children, that was understood as a problem for the priest, not as a problem for the child, or for other children.

‘’For a long time, it’s not as if the diocese and authorities didn’t do anything about those situations, they did do things, but they were all about trying to fix up the priest and send him back, and they were not child centered, you know, they did not prioritise the safety of children.

‘’Even though lots of things have changed, I’m not sure the perception has changed. I think that a lot of people still think it’s a bit risky to allow your children to be involved in church activities, so I would say that there are a lot of parents who have made a decision to distance themselves from the church,’’ Fagan said.

‘’I was raped with the burning candle’’

48-year-old Darren McGavin is another survivor of sexual abuse. His abuser, Tony Walsh, is currently in prison for raping more than 200 children in the suburb of Ballyfermot, where Darren grew up in a violent family.

‘’At the age of seven when I went to that school, he became the parish priest, so he was adorned,’’ Darren told Euronews.

‘’He was also an impersonator of Elvis Presley, so he was in a thing called ‘The All Priest Show’, and they went around the country in halls, in clubs, they got paid! So, everyone thought “isn’t he brilliant, isn’t he great, how amazing is he. And then when he talks on the pulpit about his Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus is my friend, I’m gonna save you.

‘’He went home and told my parents – so the dirty secret was out – “I now know you’re beating that child and your wife”. So now both parents, which were adults, were vulnerable to the priest, and in his pocket, because he knows their dirty secret.

‘’So, the priest suggested that I take your son out of this environment, because you’ve damaged him, he’s acting out, and you’re beating him more, you don’t know how to deal with him. If he comes with me I can teach him love and he can serve at morning mass, and we’ll bring him to lovely places, take a bit of pressure off you.

‘’To somebody, a mother, of five children who are all going mad, and the husband was very rarely there, and when he was, he was beating the shit out of her, that was brilliant, my child is safe.

What if I was to tell you that a young boy was tied to a coffee table, bound by his hands to his ankles, and noticed a candle burning, a thin one, but just thought it was a clerical candle. And while I was told that I would burn in hell for all eternity, I was raped with the burning candle.’’

At the age of 12, Darren realised while watching a documentary about paedophilia, that his relationship with his parish priest was not normal. From that day, he started seeing a child psychiatrist, with only one fear: that the judge would not believe his testimony during the trial.

Detailing one of his meetings with the psychiatrist Darren said: ‘’The lady gave me the doll, and said to me. “Can you show me what happened?” And I said “you want me to stick my cock and my penis inside the doll in front of you?’’

‘’She said “What?”

‘’I said “well you told me to show you, so you want me to rip the doll and ride the doll?”

She goes “No, just show me”,

I said “I don’t understand, I’d have to do it, but you said it was wrong.

“Why do you want me to do something that’s wrong? I don’t understand that.”

So they were like “that kind of makes sense, we didn’t come across that before”.

So I said “how about just asking me what happened?

“So when I was asking, I had to keep asking them and taking the tissues, at 12, saying “are you ok?” because I had traumatised them. To me it was ok, because I was used to it.”

Now a therapist, Darren is able to help other victims of abuse. A survivor of five suicide attempts himself, he is one of the 10% of victims who have brought their case to the authorities.

In 2014, in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Pope Francis estimated the number of paedophile priests in the Church, including bishops and cardinals, stood at 2%.

But during an investigation conducted by Spotlight in Boston, Richard Sipe, a psychiatrist and retired priest, put that figure at 6%.

According to Sipe, a paedophile inside the Church abuses 250 victims during his lifetime. If correct, for Ireland, this would amount to 280 paedophile priests and 70,000 victims. For the whole of Europe, it would mean 11,200 priests and 2.8 million victims.

Colm O’Gorman, also a survivor, and the Director of Amnesty International Ireland, is fighting to repair the damage caused.

‘’The way that the church conducted itself, and the hypocrisy and the corruption at the heart of the church was revealed, and that led to people in Ireland rejecting the moral authority of the church. It led to an end of the political dominance of the church here in Ireland.

‘’You know for decades the Vatican called us liars, they said we were telling lies, that we were fantasists, that this was an anti-Catholic agenda, that there was no cover-up. So now the Pope says there was a cover-up and we’re meant to think he’s great for acknowledging the truth? That’s the minimum.’’

‘’there was so much resistance in the Vatican to change’’

Marie Collins was also abused by members of the Catholic church. She campaigns to prevent abuses and child pornography online. In 2014, she was added to the Vatican commission by Pope Francis, to protect minors and fight sexual abuse. But she resigned in 2017, tired of the Vatican’s attitude.

‘’The commission was experts outside the church, child-protection experts from every area brought together to advise the Pope, to bring expertise into the church from outside. And I went along with it, because if the church was sincere in wanting to change, I thought that I should work to help. But I found after a couple of years that there was so much resistance in the Vatican to change. They were undermining the work of the commission. They were resisting the work of the commission, and really we were making recommendations, the Pope was approving them and they were not being implemented.’’

Summing up Marie adds: ‘’So it was a waste of time? The Curia, the civil service, the Pope’s civil service, they saw us on the commission as people coming in from the outside and interfering. The importance of child protection was ignored really, it was more politics.”

Church in modern Ireland

Pope Francis’ recent decision to speak out about the scandals inside the church shows a desire for more transparency within the Vatican. Now, complaints and testimonies about sexual abuse are passed on to the civil authorities.

But Ireland as a country has also changed dramatically in recent years. In 2015, it approved gay marriage through a referendum. Then in 2018, the country revoked the 8th amendment of its constitution, and allowed abortion.

80% of the Irish population is Catholic. The same population that voted for these two reforms despite opposing directives of the Church. Such numbers highlight a paradox: Irish society remains culturally Catholic, but has distanced itself from the Church as an institution.

It’s a trend seen across Europe. The only continent where the Catholic community has fallen or stagnated in the past few years.

Learning lessons from Ireland’s trauma

Ireland has since tried to heal its wounds and improve the security of children. Arguably, the country had understood that the Church itself would not fix anything.

An important lesson that other countries, like Australia, France, Poland, and the United States might heed where victims of sexual abuse inside the Church are only just being heard.

The voices of those abused in Ireland bear witness to the extent of the cover up, and the much too frequent response of the Church: silence or even worse complicity.

In the US, the Theodore McCarrick case, was a high profile example. The cardinal was finally defrocked in 2019 after historical sexual abuse allegations, that he claimed to have “no recollection” of.

A Vatican report pointed to failings by senior US clerics, Vatican officials, and popes, including John Paul II, who let him rise through the ranks despite accusations of sexual misconduct.

More often, victims have found themselves having to turn to non-religious bodies to be heard, with the hope of one day rebuilding their lives.

I am keeping my own faith, yes, I’ve kept my own faith and my beliefs,’’ says Marie, adding: But the institution of the Church does not mean that much to me now. The institutional Church has… really I’ve lost all trust in it. I still have a relationship with God and I will still pray, and I still consider myself a Catholic.’’

On the question of faith Colm O’Gorman said: ‘’ Do I have faith? I don’t have religious faith, but I have, I suppose, an even greater faith in humanity, in goodness, in life, in healing.

‘’And even greater faith in something that I know to be true, and that is that no matter how awful the harm done, no matter how awful the offense caused, that if we’re prepared to own it, to face it with courage, and with truth, and with compassion, and with love, and with the commitment to moving forward, then healing and recovery and progress is not just possible, it’s inevitable…this I know, this I have unshakeable faith in.’’

‘’It’s the living in silence, which is the most awful thing, insists Marie. Looking at both the past and the present she sums up: ‘’For so many victims, it’s been too much and they have taken their own lives, as we know. So we have to think about the countries where this is still happening, and think of the children there.”

Complete Article HERE!

The queer and Catholic dilemma

By Isabella Brown

In a documentary that aired last month, Pope Francis commented seemingly in support of same-sex civil unions, prompting critique, clarification, and confusion.

The paradoxical reality of the American Catholic Church is that it is has gay priests, gay followers, and followers in support of same-sex marriage,yet it continues to teach that homosexual behavior, same-sex marriage, and civil unions are sins against God’s plan.

The queer and Catholic dilemma feels like a never-ending standstill between equality and Catholic law, and until the Church can offer more than kind words, it may always remain as such.

“What we have to create is a civil union law,” Francis said in the documentary according to the New York Times. “That way they are legally covered … They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”

The Pope’s comments contradict those of his predecessor, not to mention official Catholic doctrine, who referred to homosexuality as an “intrinsic moral evil.” In 2003, the Congregation of the Faith took a clear stance against same-sex marriage and civil unions.

“Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon,” the Congregation stated. “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The doctrine’s strong opposition to same-sex civil unions may have contributed to the Vatican’s original attempt to censor Pope Francis’ comment, which was recently revealed to have been cut from a 2019 interview with Televisa, only to resurface in the documentary. According to the New York Times, “Almost everyone involved declined to comment or evaded questions of how the footage emerged.” Clearly the Church feels these comments were something to hide.

Some members of the church have clarified the Pope’s commentary, arguing that the Pope was not actually voicing support for same-sex civil unions but simply reiterating that LGBTQIA+ people should be “loved, cherished, and respected in whatever way they live,” according to Fr. Marcin Szymanski, assistant director of the Newman Center, a Catholic ministry that serves the UW community.

“He is saying you should not disown, kick out, or disrespect any member of your family because of homosexual preference,” Szymanski said.

The confusion stems from nuances in translation from the interview, which was conducted in Spanish. The Pope used the phrase “convivencia civil,” which some have argued translates to “civil coexistence,” not civil union.

UW Spanish professor Ana M. Gómez-Bravo disagrees.

“The Pope was clearly speaking in favor of civil unions,” Gómez-Bravo said. “The second half of his statement erases any ambiguity.”

Despite confusion around the Pope’s verbiage, his comments were highly encouraging to an anonymous UW student who is bisexual and Catholic.

“I would like to hear more on what he has to say from an official standpoint but as it is, it’s a hint to something that is really positive for me,” the student said.

But for many LGBTQIA+ people, myself included, this doesn’t exactly feel like a major step forward. Rather, it feels like an empty declaration disguising the Church’s inaction on LGBTQIA+ issues.

Even if the Pope is in favor of same-sex civil unions, this legal separation is still unequal treatment. A civil union is a legally recognized partnership created to preserve the iron-clad walls around the institution of marriage, ensuring that same-sex couples remain excluded from the right to marry. A rose by any other name does not smell as sweet, and with U.S. Christianity in rapid decline (while the number of religiously unaffiliated U.S. adults is rising), it seems the Church is paying the price for it.

The Catholic Church exists in contradiction when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community. The same document that claims that “homosexual inclination is ‘objectively disordered’” also claims that LGBTQIA+ people “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity,” and “unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

We tend to think of Catholicism as a solidified entity that derives its power from its permanence. But the reality is that the Church has reversed its ideology a handful of times throughout history, changing its mind on Jews, usury, and slavery, to name a few.

A full-hearted acceptance of same-sex couples is long overdue, and yet it comes at a cost the Church can’t seem to pay. This change would require a radical rewrite of some of the Church’s essential teachings, rooted in Catholic beliefs that marital and sexual relationships must be procreative. This reasoning makes it nearly “impossible” for the Church to ever change their position on same-sex relationships, according to Fr. Syzmanski.

The Bible tells us that faith without action is dead. There’s a hidden repercussion in the Pope’s words: By appearing in favor of same-sex relationships, the Church saves itself from having to address its own hypocrisy and homophobia.

We need something the Church can’t offer: change, now.

Complete Article HERE!

Popes knew of allegations against ex-Cardinal McCarrick years ago, report finds

McCarrick, one of the most prominent figures in the U.S. Catholic Church before his fall from power, was expelled from the priesthood in 2019.

In this Nov. 14, 2011, file photo, then Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore. A lawyer says the key accuser in the sex abuse case against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has met with New York City prosecutors, evidence that the scandal that has convulsed the papacy is now part of the broader U.S. law enforcement investigation into sex abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church.

By Claudio Lavanga, Deborah Lubov and Adela Suliman

Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II were aware of sexual misconduct allegations against American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whom the Vatican later defrocked after investigating the claims, but they did not halt the powerful cleric’s rise through the church, according to a report released Tuesday.

McCarrick, one of the most prominent figures in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church before his fall from power, was expelled from the priesthood in 2019 after a Vatican investigation.

The 449-page Vatican report released Tuesday outlines how the two popes, as well as senior U.S. Catholic officials, were aware of the sexual misconduct allegations, including that McCarrick shared a bed with seminarians at his New Jersey beach house and an unsuccessful attempt to restrict his role in public life in the 1990s.

The report said there was “credible evidence” that McCarrick had abused minors when he was a priest in the 1970s but that the evidence did not surface until 2017. Before then, the church was only aware of consistent rumors, the report found, with McCarrick’s denials accepted for decades.

“At the time of McCarrick’s appointment and in part because of the limited nature of the Holy See’s own prior investigations, the Holy See never received a complaint directly from a victim, whether adult or minor, about McCarrick’s misconduct,” the report said.

“For this reason, McCarrick’s supporters could plausibly characterize the allegations against him as ‘gossip’ or ‘rumors.'”

John Paul II served from 1978 until his death in 2005 and was succeeded by Benedict, who retired in 2013 and is now pope emeritus. John Paul was declared a saint in 2014 and had appointed McCarrick to the prominent post of archbishop of Washington D.C., in 2000.

The allegations against McCarrick, the highest profile church figure to have been dismissed from the priesthood in modern times, date back decades.

James Grein, one of the men whose accusations of sexual abuse resulted in McCarrick’s defrocking, has said he personally told John Paul II about the abuse during a 1988 Vatican audience.

“He blessed me, he put his hands on me, then he dismissed me,” Grein said during a news conference in August 2019 in Manhattan.

He was among hundreds of child sex abuse victims who filed lawsuits in New York under the Child Victims Act, which allows individuals to sue regardless of when the alleged acts happened. The legislation was bitterly opposed by the Catholic Church and other religious groups and blocked for years by Republicans in the state Legislature.

Grein was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

McCarrick, 90, who has been living in seclusion in the U.S., has previously responded publicly only to the allegations of abuse of minors, saying he had “absolutely no recollection” of them.

Against the background of the #MeToo era, tackling sexual abuses that have battered the Catholic Church’s reputation has been a major challenge for Francis, with victims demanding a crackdown on bishops accused of concealing or mismanaging cases.

According to the report, which was commissioned in 2018 and includes interviews with over 90 witnesses and details incidents and allegations of abuse, Pope Francis was given evidence of McCarrick’s misconduct only in 2017. Francis has consistently denied knowledge of McCarrick’s sexual misconduct.

Saint Peter’s Square a day before the Vatican releases its long-awaited report into disgraced ex-U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.Remo Casilli / Reuters

The report “did not examine the issue of McCarrick’s culpability. … That question has already been adjudicated,” but the report said Vatican investigators did look at “institutional knowledge” surrounding his behavior.

A former archbishop of Washington, D.C., McCarrick was familiar to U.S. political elites.

He presided over the 2009 funeral of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in 2009 and was present at the funeral Mass of President-elect Joe Biden’s son Beau in Delaware in 2015.

The four U.S. dioceses where McCarrick served — New York; Metuchen and Newark in New Jersey; and Washington, D.C. — also carried out separate investigations that fed into the Vatican report.

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It outlined how McCarrick seemingly managed to rise through the ranks of the church, despite accusations of alleged sexual misconduct with adult male seminarians and minors.

Cardinal-Designate Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington called the Vatican’s report “an important, difficult and necessary document.”

“Nonetheless, we know that if true redemptive healing is ever to commence — for those who have been harmed and for the Church Herself — this disclosure must be made,” he said in a statement in response to the report on Tuesday.

McCarrick has not commented on alleged sexual misconduct with adult men or on this report.

“We publish the report with sorrow for the wounds that these events have caused to the victims, their families, the Church in the United States, and the Universal Church,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, said in a statement.

Parolin said that he and Pope Francis had viewed the testimonies of victims and that in publishing the report “the truth has been pursued.”

Complete Article HERE!

Priest describes senior Vatican Cardinal’s comments as ‘like Trump’

Fr Tony Flannery, a co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, said there are “polarised positions” in the Church and in the Vatican itself on possible reform

By Noel Baker

A Redemptorist priest who has been suspended from active ministry for the past eight years has described comments by a senior Vatican Cardinal as “like Trump” amid a deepening row over potential reforms in the Catholic Church.

Fr Tony Flannery, a co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests and an advocate of the ordination of women priests, made his comments after a report this week in the National Catholic Reporter quoted Cardinal Luis Ladaria of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) as saying it had done “everything possible” to come to some type of resolution with him, but this had been unsuccessful.

In the same article, Cardinal Ladaria defended his office’s request that Fr Flannery sign four strict oaths of fidelity to Catholic teaching, saying while this was “very unpleasant”, it was required to maintain fealty to Church guidelines.

The Cardinal was quoted as saying: “We have tried always to maintain our respect towards Fr Flannery, but the duty that we have, according to the arrangement of the church, is to protect the faith and therefore to indicate some things that do not conform with this faith.”

Fr Flannery, 73, had said that unless he signed the oaths he had been informed he should not return to public ministry.

The row has now deepened, with the ACP tweeting a link to the NCR article and stating it is “very disturbed” by the comments as to the nature of the engagement with Fr Flannery.

It said if the report had quoted the Cardinal accurately “then it must be said, that he is misleading Catholics and the public. This is disturbing.”

Fr Flannery himself tweeted on Tuesday night “Ladaria is a Jesuit; he knows what ‘dialogue’ entails. He must know this statement is false. This has upset me this evening”.

He told the Irish Examiner he has no intention of leaving the priesthood or the Redemptorists, but could not rule out the possibility that he might be fired.

He said in eight years he had had no direct correspondence from the CDF and so the Cardinal’s assertion to the contrary was, in his view, “totally false”.

“The only thing I can compare that to is Trump,” he said, adding that what was said is “clearly contrary to all the evidence”.

Fr Flannery said there are “polarised positions” in the Church and in the Vatican itself on possible reform, but that the recent issue over the oaths of fidelity “in tone and content is like something from the 19th century”.

“To some extent this is like the end of the road in dealing with the Vatican,” he said.

In a comprehensive statement issued earlier on his website by way of response to the comments made by the Cardinal, Fr Flannery said the CDF under Cardinal Ladaria or his two predecessors “never communicated directly with me”.

“How do you dialogue with someone when you won’t speak to them?” he asked.

He said he was “totally unaware” of any other discussions held at a higher level and added: “All I ever got were demands for statements and signatures, and lists of punishments meted out to me. In fact the very first I knew of the whole process was, in 2012, when I was presented with two documents, outlining my ‘heretical’ writings, and the sentence being imposed. And the Cardinal says they have done everything to dialogue with me.”

Complete Article HERE!