James was 11 years old when Father Theodore E. McCarrick came into his bedroom in Northern New Jersey, looking for the bathroom. Father McCarrick, then 39 and a rising star in the Roman Catholic church, was a close family friend, whom James and his six siblings called Uncle Teddy. James was changing out of his bathing suit to get ready for dinner.
“He said, turn around,” James, who is now 60, recalled in an interview last week. “And I really don’t want to, because I don’t want to show anybody anything.” But he did, he said, and was shocked when Father McCarrick dropped his pants, too. “See, we are the same,” James said he told him. “It’s O.K., we are the same.”
It was the beginning of a sexually abusive relationship that would last nearly 20 years, James said in the interview, the first time he has spoken publicly about the trauma. He asked that his last name be withheld to protect a sibling.
As the decades passed, Father McCarrick became Cardinal McCarrick, one of the most prominent public faces of the Catholic Church in America. He was suddenly removed from ministry last month over a substantiated allegation that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old altar boy in 1971.
The news changed James’s life. “I got down on my knees and I thanked God that I am not alone and it is going to be O.K.,” James said, through sobs, recalling the moment. “And I can tell somebody and someone is going to believe me.”
Interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times after Cardinal McCarrick’s removal showed that some in the church hierarchy had known for decades about allegations that he was sexually harassing and touching adult seminarians. On Monday, The Times reported that a former priest, Robert Ciolek, had received an $80,000 settlement in 2005, in part over allegations that Cardinal McCarrick, as a New Jersey bishop in the 1980s, had sexually harassed and inappropriately touched him. Another former seminarian received a $100,000 settlement for similar allegations in 2007.
But James’ allegations — that he was repeatedly sexually abused as a minor — are the most explosive yet to be leveled against the cardinal, who is now 88 and living in seclusion in the Washington, D.C., area. On Monday, James filed a police report detailing his accusations against the cardinal with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia, where he lives.
Cardinal McCarrick, through a spokeswoman, Susan Gibbs, said on Wednesday that he had not been notified of the accusation, so he could not respond. But she said he was committed to following the process the church has put in place for abuse allegations.
James said he had tried to tell his father that he was being abused when he was 15 or 16. But Father McCarrick was so beloved by his family, he said, and considered so holy, that the idea was unfathomable.
James was baptized by Father McCarrick on June 15, 1958, two weeks after he was ordained as a priest, records from Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tenafly, N.J., show.
“He had chosen me to be his special boy,” James said in the phone interview, with his lawyer, Patrick Noaker, listening. “If I go back to my family, they tell me that it’s good for you to be with him. And if you go to try to tell somebody, they say ‘I think you are mistaken.’ So what you do is you clam up, and you stay inside your own little shoe box, and you don’t come out for 40 years.”
After James learned the cardinal had been removed, he began to tell his siblings what had happened to him. His sister Karen said in an interview that her brother had been particularly close to the young priest.
“It was explained to us how Jimmy was special to Father McCarrick, because of that very special thing that happened, that he was his first baptism,” Karen said.
The connection between Father McCarrick and James’s family was deep. The cardinal has talked in interviews about how his best high school friend was from a Swiss family, and how the two men spent a year in Switzerland after graduation. That friend was James’s uncle.
Karen, now 62, remembered that the young priest would bring her family marshmallow candies each Halloween and hard candy each Christmas.
“I never thought about him other than Uncle Teddy,” she said. “He was equal to the other uncles, and very much a part of our lives.”
When the family moved to Hillsborough, Calif., in 1971, Father McCarrick visited repeatedly, James recalled. James had a difficult transition to his new home, and was struggling in school and getting into trouble. In 1972, James asked Father McCarrick to write him a recommendation to a boarding school. He did, James said.
By then, James said, Father McCarrick had begun abusing him sexually. When he was 13, he said, the priest first touched his penis. At 14, he said, Father McCarrick masturbated him in a beach parking lot. When he was 15, James said, Father McCarrick took him to a restaurant in San Francisco, the Tonga Room, and poured vodka in his drinks. He then brought him back to his hotel room and masturbated him and brought himself to orgasm, James said.
“I was absolutely disgusted, afraid,” James said. “I felt fear. What have I done?”
On visits to the East Coast, James, then 16 or 17, said he would go with other boys with Father McCarrick to a fishing camp in Eldred, N.Y., identical to the one described by adult seminarians who said McCarrick abused them there. On these visits, they would sleep together naked, James said, and Father McCarrick would touch him.
When James turned 18, he joined the Navy, and was stationed outside Chicago. When Father McCarrick, who became a bishop in 1977, was in town, he would call James to his hotel. When James was transferred to San Diego, Bishop McCarrick would invite him to the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles, James said.
“He introduced me to the most incredible people in the whole wide world,” James said, adding that the bishop introduced him as his nephew. “Bob Hope. I met the scarecrow from the ‘Wizard of Oz.’”
James described repeated sexual touching that always stopped short of intercourse. There was no kissing, no holding hands, which is also how the adult seminarians had described their alleged abuse. Like James, they said the bishop called himself “Uncle Ted” and them his “nephews.”
James left the Navy in 1980, he said, and moved back to the East Coast. He said he would sometimes stay overnight with Bishop McCarrick in the rectory in Metuchen, N.J., and later in Newark, after Bishop McCarrick was promoted to archbishop in 1986.
By then, James said he was drinking heavily and doing drugs, habits that began in his teenage years. He said he tried to dissociate himself from the archbishop in 1985, after meeting a woman he went on to marry.
The last time he visited Archbishop McCarrick, in 1989, he asked for money, he said; McCarrick refused, and never called him again. By then, James was 31.
Instead of feeling relief, James said, he spiraled downward. “I am done,” he said. “He has thrown me away.”
His marriage fell apart, and in 1991, he said, he attempted suicide. He landed in detox and has been sober since, he said.
Through his life, James said, he only told a few people that the priest had abused him. His younger brother. His uncle, Cardinal McCarrick’s former friend, now deceased, who advised him to take the secret to his grave. As James became sober, he also told his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and a therapist, he said.
But now James wants to take action against Cardinal McCarrick, to give courage to others who might have been abused, and to find some justice for himself, he said.
His lawyer, Mr. Noaker, said that James’s police report will be forwarded to sex crimes investigators in San Francisco, New Jersey and possibly New York. He provided The Times with a copy of the report’s receipt, dated Monday. The statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes may block criminal charges or civil lawsuits, but Mr. Noaker is hopeful. He will also seek compensation from the church.
James’s sister, Karen, said that she was horrified and surprised when he told her in late June that the cardinal had abused him. She recalled how she had attended Bishop McCarrick’s installation as archbishop of Washington in 2000 as part of his official entourage. “We were part of a superstar’s life,” she said.
But she said she believed James “100 percent.”
“My brother has had such a horrible life,” she said, “it just doesn’t make any sense, that his life would have been so different from his six siblings. Father Ted was supposed to fix this horrible boy, and he sure fixed him.”
Recent news stories about financial settlements with adults who had sexual encounters with a bishop show that the issue of sex abuse in the Catholic Church is not limited to the abuse of minors. When Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was suspended from the priesthood after being credibly accused of abusing an altar boy, it was also revealed that financial settlements for his actions had been made earlier with two adults.
The church has adopted a zero tolerance for the sexual abuse of minors, but how should it deal with other sexual activity by priests?
The requirement of celibacy for priests in the Catholic Church is a topic of debate in the church today. Many, myself included, think that priestly celibacy should be optional, as it is in other Christian churches. Pope Francis has signaled that he is open to considering the ordination of married men but wants the request to come from national bishops’ conferences.
But Francis is also very strong is stating that in the meantime, celibacy must be observed. He would not throw out every priest who violated celibacy; individual lapses can be forgiven. But a priest who is incapable of observing celibacy should return to the lay state, Francis wrote before he became pope, especially if there is a child who has a right to a father.
Not everyone agrees with Francis. Some are less forgiving and would expel from the priesthood anyone who even once violates his promise of celibacy. Others argue that celibacy has never been universally observed and bad laws should not be enforced. In some cultures, bishops know that many of their priests do not observe celibacy and simply ignore it as long as it does not become public or as long as the parishioners don’t complain.
It is unknown how widespread are violations of celibacy. There are lots of anecdotes, but little data. I personally believe that most priests, especially in the United States, observe celibacy. But how are we to think about those who do not?
There is universal agreement that those who have sex with minors should be prosecuted as criminals and expelled from the priesthood. But what about violations with adults? Are there other sexual violations that should be treated by the church with zero tolerance?
Rape or other criminal violations should, of course, receive zero tolerance. These violations should be reported to the police and prosecuted under the law. There is no place in the priesthood for such criminals.
But what about other cases of sex with adults? Many Americans don’t think sex between consenting adults is an issue. But they and the church need to learn from feminists and the #MeToo movement. They have taught us about the danger of sex between adults who are not in positions of equal power.
For the church, this would clearly be the case of a bishop or priest having sex with a seminarian or a bishop having sex with a priest. The relationship here is even greater than that between an employer and employee. A bishop is supposed to be a father to his priests and seminarians. The church needs a zero-tolerance policy toward such abuse. Any bishop having sex with a seminarian or priest should lose his office, as should any priest having sex with a seminarian.
There also are many lay people employed by the church. Surely, the church should follow the highest standards in protecting lay employees from sexual harassment from their supervisors, whether priests or lay. Here the church should adopt best practices developed in the secular world.
There are also pastoral relationships that need to be examined since often the people a priest deals with are very vulnerable.
For centuries, the church has recognized this problem with regard to confessors and penitents. As a result, priests are excommunicated if they absolve their sexual partners.
Secular professionals, such as psychologists, recognize these dangers as well. Clients can be very vulnerable and dependent on their therapist. The feelings and emotions that come up in counseling can be exploited. The church can learn from other professions about best practices.
And what about sex with an ordinary parishioner?
The church needs a frank discussion of these issues with input from the laity. Sex between a priest and adult can be more than simply a violation of celibacy. It can also be a violation of professional ethics. With the advice of laity with expertise in these areas, the church needs to adopt best practices and hold itself to the highest standards. The church needs the help of laity not only in developing standards but also in enforcing them. No profession, including the clergy, is good at policing itself.
As a young man studying to be a priest in the 1980s, Robert Ciolek was flattered when his brilliant, charismatic bishop in Metuchen, N.J., Theodore E. McCarrick, told him he was a shining star, cut out to study in Rome and rise high in the church.
Bishop McCarrick began inviting him on overnight trips, sometimes alone and sometimes with other young men training to be priests. There, the bishop would often assign Mr. Ciolek to share his room, which had only one bed. The two men would sometimes say night prayers together, before Bishop McCarrick would make a request — “come over here and rub my shoulders a little”— that extended into unwanted touching in bed.
Mr. Ciolek, who was in his early 20s at the time, said he felt unable to say no, in part because he had been sexually abused by a teacher in his Catholic high school, a trauma he had shared with the bishop.
“I trusted him, I confided in him, I admired him,” Mr. Ciolek said in an interview this month, the first time he has spoken publicly about the abuse, which lasted for several years while Mr. Ciolek was a seminarian and later a priest. “I couldn’t imagine that he would have anything other than my best interests in mind.”
Bishop McCarrick went on to climb the ranks of the Roman Catholic hierarchy — from head of the small Diocese of Metuchen to archbishop of Newark and then archbishop of Washington, where he was made a cardinal. He remained into his 80s one of the most recognized American cardinals on the global stage, a Washington power broker who participated in funeral masses for political luminaries like Edward M. Kennedy, the longtime Massachusetts senator, and Beau Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Suddenly, last month, Cardinal McCarrick was removed from ministry, after the Archdiocese of New York deemed credible an accusation that he had molested a 16-year-old altar boy nearly 50 years ago.
Cardinal McCarrick, now 88, who declined to comment for this article, said in a statement last month that he had no recollection of the abuse. He is the highest-ranking Catholic official in the United States to be removed for sexual abuse of a minor.
But while the church responded quickly to the allegation that Cardinal McCarrick had abused a child, some church officials knew for decades that the cardinal had been accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching adults, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.
Between 1994 and 2008, multiple reports about the cardinal’s transgressions with adult seminary students were made to American bishops, the pope’s representative in Washington and, finally, Pope Benedict XVI. Two New Jersey dioceses secretly paid settlements, in 2005 and 2007, to two men, one of whom was Mr. Ciolek, for allegations against the archbishop. All the while, Cardinal McCarrick played a prominent role publicizing the church’s new zero-tolerance policy against abusing children.
The scandal of child sexual abuse by clergy has gripped the Catholic Church for nearly two decades, resulting in billions spent by the church on lawsuits, settlements and prevention programs. But while the church has made strides in dealing with sexual abuse of children, it has largely avoided a reckoning over sexual harassment and abuse suffered by adult seminarians and young priests at the hands of their superiors, including bishops.
Because bishops have control over priests’ assignments and complete loyalty is expected by the church’s clerical culture, seminarians and priests can be especially vulnerable to sexual harassment by their superiors.
“In the corporate world, there are ways to report misconduct,” Mr. Ciolek, 57, said at his home in New Jersey. “You have an H.R. contact, you have a legal department, or you have anonymous reporting, you have systems. Does the Catholic Church have that? How is a priest supposed to report abuse or wrong activity by his bishop? What is their stated vehicle for anyone to do that? I don’t think it exists.”
Now, after the fall of Cardinal McCarrick, some Catholics are saying that the church is on the verge of confronting its own #MeToo moment, akin to the wave of painful truth-telling that has swept through other workplaces, schools and Hollywood.
The Rev. Hans Zollner, a member of the Vatican’s commission for advising the pope on protecting minors, said that he has seen more victims come forward in recent months with accounts of sexual abuse in the church that they experienced as adults.
“The #MeToo movement has created a momentum,” he said. “It has brought another level of attention to this kind of hidden abuse.” ‘Uncle Ted’
With his warm, gregarious presence, Cardinal McCarrick rose quickly through the ranks of the church after being ordained a priest in 1958. As a bishop, he took pride in his success at recruiting young men to the priesthood — including one he met in an airport, according to his colleagues.
In 1981, the New York-born clergyman was made the bishop of the newly created diocese of Metuchen in central New Jersey. The young men he recruited would attend seminary at Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, before being ordained as priests for the diocese.
Those who interacted with him back then said he was friendly with all the seminarians, but would invite a few he especially favored to overnight stays at a beach house in Sea Girt, N.J. It was a small, simple house, some six blocks from the ocean — a retreat that the diocese had purchased at Bishop McCarrick’s request in 1984.
About four or five seminarians and young priests would go to the house at a time, usually on a Friday, where they would sometimes cook dinner or order pizza and socialize over beers, Mr. Ciolek recalled. Before lights out, Mr. Ciolek said, Bishop McCarrick would assign sleeping arrangements, directing one seminarian to share his room, which had one large bed.
Sometimes, Bishop McCarrick would start to rub a young man’s back as the rest of the group was filtering toward the bedrooms. Other times, it would happen once the young man who had been selected to room with the bishop was alone with him.
“My observations were that people were disgusted by it,” said Mr. Ciolek. “There were some who gloried in the attention it brought on them, even if it was screwed-up attention. But I don’t remember anyone welcoming it and hoping they would be touched.”
For Mr. Ciolek, there were about a dozen trips out of town with Bishop McCarrick, including to a fishing camp in Eldred, N.Y., with other seminarians, and once to Puerto Rico, where he waited in a hotel lobby while his host spoke with the local bishop. Bishop McCarrick also took him to Yankees games. At one game, Mr. Ciolek said he was seated in George Steinbrenner’s box between the team owner and Henry Kissinger, in what he described as one of the highlights of his young life. But after the games ended, Bishop McCarrick sometimes took him to a small apartment on an upper floor of a hospital that he used for overnight stays in the city, and directed Mr. Ciolek to share his bed.
Mr. Ciolek said that even though he just wanted to be a parish priest, Bishop McCarrick would frequently bring up how he ought to go to Rome and climb the church hierarchy.
With the harassment, Mr. Ciolek said, Bishop McCarrick seemed to have a line he would not cross with him. The touching would stay above the waist, avoiding the genitals, he said. There was no kissing, no holding hands.
But a second former priest, who received a settlement from the New Jersey dioceses for abuse by McCarrick, did not describe such a limit to the physical contact. This priest, who declined to be interviewed and whose file was provided on condition that his name not be used, was also a member of Bishop McCarrick’s select circle of seminarians.
By 1986, Bishop McCarrick had been promoted by Pope John Paul II to a much bigger job: Archbishop of Newark, one of the country’s largest dioceses with more than one million Catholics. In the summer of 1987, this former priest alleged, Archbishop McCarrick took him to an Italian restaurant in New York City, and then to the small apartment above the hospital. (Mr. Ciolek described the room in similar terms.)
There, Archbishop McCarrick asked the seminarian to change into a striped sailor shirt and a pair of shorts he had on hand, and joined him in the bed, according to the seminarian’s written account. “He put his arms around me and wrapped his legs between mine,” the account states.
He also wrote that he once saw Archbishop McCarrick having sex with a young priest in a cabin at the Eldred fishing camp, and that the archbishop invited him to be “next.”
In this former priest’s file were handwritten letters that the archbishop wrote to him when he was still a student, some signed “Uncle Ted,” and “Uncle T.” They sometimes addressed him as “nephew,” a term Mr. Ciolek said was used by the archbishop to refer to the young men he took on overnight trips.
One letter was written in 1987 while Archbishop McCarrick was aboard a plane in Poland on mission for the Vatican. “I just wanted to tell you how glad I am that we had the chance to get together this summer,” the archbishop wrote to the 26-year-old student. “It wasn’t as often as I would have liked but I know how ‘social’ my nephew is!” Unstoppable Rise
Archbishop McCarrick’s trip to Poland was a sign of his growing prominence. His brother bishops in the United States elected him chairman of their committees on migration, international policy and aid for the church in Central and Eastern Europe. He met with Fidel Castro in 1988.
The first documented complaint about Cardinal McCarrick came at the latest by 1994, when the second priest wrote a letter to the new Bishop of Metuchen, Edward T. Hughes, saying that Archbishop McCarrick had inappropriately touched him and other seminarians in the 1980s, according to the documents.
The priest had a disturbing confession, the documents show. He told Bishop Hughes that he was coming forward because he believed the sexual and emotional abuse he endured from Archbishop McCarrick, as well as several other priests, had left him so traumatized that it triggered him to touch two 15-year-old boys inappropriately. The Metuchen diocese sent the priest to therapy, and then transferred him to another diocese. But Archbishop McCarrick’s stature remained intact; he was even given the honor of hosting John Paul II on a visit to Newark in 1995 and leading a large public Mass there for the pope.
Around 1999, Mr. Ciolek was called in by Archbishop McCarrick’s former secretary in Metuchen, Msgr. Michael J. Alliegro, who knew about the trips with seminarians, including the bed-sharing. He asked Mr. Ciolek, who had left the priesthood in 1988 to marry a woman, if he planned to sue the diocese, and then mentioned Archbishop McCarrick’s name. “And I literally laughed, and I said, no,” Mr. Ciolek said, adding that the monsignor responded with a sigh of relief.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II promoted Archbishop McCarrick to lead the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., one of the most prestigious posts in the Catholic Church in America. He was elevated to cardinal three months later.
At least one priest warned the Vatican against the appointment. The Rev. Boniface Ramsey said that when he was on the faculty at the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in New Jersey from 1986 to 1996, he was told by seminarians about Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual abuse at the beach house. When Archbishop McCarrick was appointed to Washington, Father Ramsey spoke by phone with the pope’s representative in the nation’s capital, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio, and at his encouragement sent a letter to the Vatican about Archbishop McCarrick’s history.
Father Ramsey, now a priest in New York City, said he never got a response.
Cardinal McCarrick’s ascent by that point seemed unstoppable, given his importance to the church. He was a prolific fund-raiser; as a founding member and president of the Papal Foundation, he rounded up deep-pocketed donors to pledge $1 million to the pope’s pet causes.
When Pope John Paul II made him Washington archbishop and a cardinal, the pope was in decline from Parkinson’s disease.
“He was not tracking these things closely because of his health, and his aides were not inclined to bring particular cases to his attention,” said John Thavis, a longtime Vatican correspondent and the author of “Vatican Diaries.”
Mr. Thavis pointed out that John Paul II also disregarded multiple warnings about a different, more notorious sexual predator, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ and another renowned church fund-raiser.
In 2002, when the turmoil in the church over the child sex abuse scandal was at a peak, Cardinal McCarrick was among the cardinals summoned by the pope to help manage the crisis.
Cardinal McCarrick voted in the papal conclave in 2005 that elected Pope Benedict XVI, and participated in the cardinals’ meetings in 2013 that led to the election of Pope Francis. He retired as leader of the Washington archdiocese in 2006 at 75, the standard retirement age for bishops. A Reckoning
For many years, Mr. Ciolek, who became a lawyer after leaving the priesthood, told no one about his experiences. Then in 2004, after he began receiving counseling, he filed for a settlement from the church and received $80,000 from the Dioceses of Trenton, Metuchen and Newark.
Two years later, the church paid a settlement of $100,000 to the other priest alleging abuse. That priest had been forced to resign in 2004 under the church’s new zero-tolerance protocols against child abuse, based on his confession about touching two boys a decade earlier.
Father Ramsey said he continued to warn church leaders about Cardinal McCarrick. In 2008, he said, he raised the issue with Cardinal Edward Egan, the New York archbishop, but Cardinal Egan cut him off quickly. Father Ramsey said he was disturbed in 2015 to see Cardinal McCarrick serving at the funeral Mass for Cardinal Egan, so he wrote to Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, who had been appointed by Pope Francis to lead a commission on sexual abuse of children.
“I have blown the whistle for 30 years without getting anywhere,” Father Ramsey said recently.
Cardinal O’Malley, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
Richard Sipe, a former priest who is an authority on clergy sex abuse, said that seminarians began to confide in him about the beach house sleepovers while he was a professor at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in the 1980s. He said he wrote a letter to Pope Benedict in 2008, telling him the illicit trips to the shore home “had been widely known for several decades.”
One possible reason the allegations did not impede Cardinal McCarrick’s ascent is that unwanted touching of an adult by a bishop or superior is not explicitly stated as a crime under the church’s canon law, Catholic legal scholars said. There is a relevant canon (a legal provision), which says that anyone who abuses their “ecclesiastical power” and “harms somebody” is to be “punished with a just penalty.” But it was never applied to Cardinal McCarrick.
“He could have been removed from office — he certainly should not have been advanced,” said Msgr. Kenneth Lasch, a canon lawyer and retired priest in New Jersey who serves as a victims’ advocate.
The Vatican has removed bishops from their posts for having affairs with women and men; Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the church in Scotland, stepped down under Vatican pressure in 2013 after revelations of his sexual misconduct with seminarians and priests. But such punishments are rare, and are decided on a case-by-case basis by the Vatican.
In a statement to The New York Times, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark said that he was “greatly disturbed by reports” that Cardinal McCarrick, his predecessor in Newark from 1986 to 2000, had “harassed seminarians and young clergy.”
“I recognize without any ambiguity that all people have a right to live, work and study in safe environments,” he wrote. “I intend to discuss this tragedy with the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to articulate standards that will assure high standards of respect by bishops, priests and deacons for all adults.”
Many dioceses in the United States have their own policies on workplace sexual harassment. But there is no global policy in the Catholic Church on sexual harassment of adults, and no standard procedure for reporting sexual wrongdoing by one’s bishop locally, experts say.
The “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” adopted by the American bishops at the height of the child sexual abuse scandal in 2002, does not cover victims older than 18. The bishops’ charter also contained no procedures for holding bishops accountable other than “fraternal correction” by fellow bishops. Cardinal McCarrick helped to draft the charter.
The Catholic Whistleblowers, a network of priests and nuns, recently sent a letter urging the American bishops to expand the category of victims to include adults, in particular those who are vulnerable to clergy sexual abuse because of overpowering intimidation by the abuser or because the victims are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also urges them to apply its zero-tolerance policy to bishops, said Father Lasch, a Whistleblowers member.
When Mr. Ciolek received his abuse settlement in 2005, it came with no formal admission of fault, and it barred him from ever speaking to the media about the abuse.
But since Cardinal McCarrick’s suspension, Cardinal Tobin, of Newark, and the bishop of Metuchen, James F. Checchio, have both apologized to Mr. Ciolek personally on behalf of the church. “I am sorry beyond words, and embarrassed beyond belief, at this atrocious conduct,” Bishop Checchio wrote to him. Mr. Ciolek has been released from his confidentiality agreements to permit him to speak publicly.
“If the church is genuine about cleaning up the rest of the mess, it ought to do something,” he said. “And that’s when I will judge the sincerity of the expressions of sorrow that I’m now receiving.”
Despite having ample evidence that Jesus will work it out, a Catholic priest halted a homegoing service in Maryland to have a black family removed from the church. The servant of God even kicked the dead body out of the funeral, proving once again, there is no sanctuary when it comes to racism.
Aside from the fact that she was no longer alive, Agnes Hicks’ Charlotte Hall, Md., mass was going along perfectly fine on Tuesday until an attendee of the funeral went in for a hug and accidentally knocked over a chalice at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, angering pastor Michael Briese.
“There will be no funeral, no repast, everyone get the hell out of my church,” Briese reportedly told the family. According to Fox 5, Briese then kicked the family out of the place of worship, telling them to remove the body of the woman who wished to be laid to rest in the church where she was baptized.
But Briese wasn’t done. Yea, though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, the priest feared no evil, but he was a little bit scared of black people. Instead of getting Jesus on the main line, Briese decided to call his Lord and Savior from whom all white things flow: the police.
After the police responded to the call, the officers determined that the family had done nothing wrong and escorted the family to another church in a nearby county where they finished the service.
Following the incident, the Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement saying: “What occurred at St. Mary’s Parish this morning does not reflect the Catholic Church’s fundamental calling to respect and uplift the God-given dignity of every person nor does that incident represent the pastoral approach the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington commit to undertake every day in their ministry.”
Church officials said they are still investigating the incident. I haven’t checked the archives, but I’m sure the Catholic church has a spotless record of handling priest wrongdoing. An organization of this size wouldn’t have millions of followers if the church had a history of dismissing traumatic events. If you Googled “Catholic priest scandal” or “Catholic church cover-up,” I bet you wouldn’t get any results.
Although the family says they are still upset by the event, I’m sure they’ll be ok.
Despite Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s hardline response to Josepha Madigan this week, there is every reason to question masculine dominance of the Church
By Sarah Mac Donald
‘If priests disappear, then Masses will disappear and if Masses disappear, the Church will disappear.” That was the stark warning of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in response to the furore over Minister Josepha Madigan’s involvement in a communion service at her local parish and her subsequent call for the Church to ordain women and permit priests to marry.
Members of the ACP know the reality of the priest shortage first-hand. The Association, which represents over 1,000 Irish priests, most of whom are over 65, has been highlighting for years that priests in Ireland are having to work longer hours, do more work, and retire later due to the decline in their numbers. With so few priests under 40, the future looks bleak.
The robustness of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s response to the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s comments surprised many.
The no-show by the priest assigned to say Saturday evening’s Mass in the parish of St Thérèse in Mount Merrion created a dilemma for the parishioners and particularly those like Madigan who are involved in the parish’s Ministry of the Word or the Ministry of the Eucharist.
Rather than send everyone home, they decided to hold an ad hoc service of prayer and distribute pre-consecrated Communion, as is done in many other parishes in Ireland and remote mission parishes around the world. When interviewed about the service, Minister Madigan availed of the opportunity to highlight the shortage of priests and call on the Church to change its teaching that women cannot be ordained priests.
Survey after survey has shown that the vast majority of Catholics in Ireland believe women should be ordained and that priests should be allowed to marry. So there was some bafflement that the archbishop should describe Josepha Madigan’s call as “bizarre”.
Minister Madigan gave voice to a question vexing many of the faithful – why is the Vatican so determined to quash calls for women priests even if it means sowing the seeds of the Church’s extinction? The fact is, this issue has not been aired and debated in the manner it needs to be because of the stricture imposed by the late Pope John Paul II in his 1994 Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which forbids Catholics even discussing the issue of women priests. Now, that is bizarre.
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the ‘crime’ of ordaining women to ministry as one of the most serious, putting it on a par with paedophilia. Those who defy this edict are liable to be excommunicated, those who question it, if they are priests or religious, are liable to be censured by the Vatican and removed from ministry, while lay people working for church organisations are liable to lose their jobs. That is a sufficiently strong deterrent to ensure very few Catholics give the issue of women’s ordination any thought. Furthermore, there are signs of a hardening of attitudes even on the issue of women deacons.
The diaconate is an ordained ministry. But a deacon cannot perform some of the ministries that a priest can. For instance, a deacon cannot consecrate the bread and wine. This week, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, told reporters that while women deacons existed in the early Church, they were “not the same” as their male counterparts. Cardinal Luis Ladaria said the commission on women deacons, of which he is president and which was set up by Pope Francis two years ago to look at the issue, was examining women deacons’ historical role in the early Church rather than whether women could once again be ordained as deacons in the 21st century. Many will see this as a fudge and contradictory, and perhaps even a little bizarre.
Soline Humbert is one of many Catholic women who feel called to priesthood. “I was 17 when I first felt called to be a priest; 34 when I told my bishop; 37 when we founded Basic (Brothers And Sisters In Christ) to campaign for women who feel called to ordination. (There weren’t even altar girls at the time); and 48 when I met Archbishop Diarmuid Martin about it.”
Sense of calling
The 61-year-old French-born Catholic says there are “other women who have a sense of calling but not to the present broken clericalist model with compulsory celibacy.”
In her opinion, Archbishop Martin’s kneejerk reaction to Minister Madigan is probably due to the fact that “Ireland and Dublin are in the spotlight because of the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit. Archbishop Martin cannot afford to be seen as not fully in charge of a properly functioning diocese – hence his comment on there being no shortage of priests. All cracks have to be plastered over…”
According to Humbert, even though lay-led Communion services are common in Ireland and throughout the world, she has heard that “they are not encouraged” in some Irish dioceses. “The Archbishop would have preferred if the gathered congregation had gone home.” She also believes that one of the main factors for Dr Martin’s antagonism was Minister Madigan’s role in the Yes campaign in the recent abortion referendum and also because her role at the Communion service was headlined as ‘saying Mass’.
“It was all too much. I think the Church authorities are trying to stop the unstoppable, and delay the unavoidable: the Spirit-led gospel equality of women and men. John Paul II tried to forcibly close the discussion in 1994 and Diarmuid Martin and others are feeling more and more under pressure to defend the indefensible on women’s ordination – what Mary McAleese has called ‘codology’.”
Last week, the retired bishop of Middlesbrough in Britain said the time was ripe for the Church to re-examine “the key theological premises regarding the exclusion of women from the priesthood”.
In a letter to international Catholic weekly, The Tablet, Bishop John Crowley said that “as far back as 1965, I had sensed on a purely instinctive, subjective level, that whether someone was married or single, male or female, should not be determinative in admitting someone to the priesthood.”
However, it was made clear to him that he should not express his views publicly. Now that he is retired and has no public teaching role in the Church, he feels able to do so. According to Bishop Crowley, “a growing number of theologians” and “a number of bishops … would want this burning issue to be at least looked at again in a calm, open and public discussion within the Church” in a debate which “is already manifestly happening around the world among many lay people and some priests.”
Chris McDonnell, secretary of the Movement for Married Clergy, agrees that there are many who wish to have this discussion. “Just to say ‘it can’t happen’ is not good enough, the position requires greater justification than that,” he wrote last week in an article for the Catholic Times newspaper.
Furthermore, he believes the oft-quoted argument used to challenge the validity of women’s ordination, “that priesthood was conferred initially on 12 men sharing a Passover meal doesn’t hold water. It is more than likely that other women were present; nowhere in the Gospels is ‘priesthood’ claimed as an exclusive male prerogative. Only through time and custom has that come about.” He believes that the Church “cannot continue to support equality if, within our own community, the Roman Catholic Church, we maintain masculine dominance in a core aspect of our teaching”.
For Soline Humbert, there is an irony and a sense of the Spirit whispering in all that has happened in Mount Merrion. “The parish church is dedicated to St Thérèse. She is the unofficial patron saint of women priests because of her stated desire to be a priest…”