Cardinal McCarrick, seminarians and abuse: how could this happen?
The revelations of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s disgusting predation of Catholic seminarians and young priests over the course of many years makes for truly disturbing reading. Over the past few years, I had heard stories about Cardinal (then Bishop and Archbishop) McCarrick’s summer home, where he would invite (or suborn or force) seminarians to share a bed with him, massage them and invite them to call him “Uncle Ted.” But at the time they were unsubstantiated rumors, and I knew no one with any first-hand knowledge. (Otherwise, I would have reported them.)
For the record, Cardinal McCarrick was also someone whom I, like many American Catholics, admired for both his pastoral work and social justice advocacy. Whenever I met him, he was also unfailingly kind, and I saw him extend that same kindness to others.
On a pilgrimage to Lourdes a decade ago, I watched someone badger him rudely and relentlessly, during a breakfast, about some fine point of theology, for almost a half hour. Cardinal McCarrick treated her with so much patience, dignity and care, as she continued to berate him, that afterward I asked him how was able to be so kind.
This case shows the mystifying complexity of the human person—or at least this human person.
By no means does this excuse what he did to the young seminarians and priests. Rather, it shows the mystifying complexity of the human person, or at least this human person.
So how could this have happened?
Here I want to focus on one particular aspect: the way that secrecy in the church shrouds cases of what you might call “adult abuse,” as distinguished from “child abuse.” In the case of child abuse, from what I understand (I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist), the abused child may be too young, too confused or too frightened to be able to speak about the crimes of abuse, which explains why one often sees reports coming decades after the original abuse occurred.
Religious orders are also places where men in power can abuse power, even in sexual ways.
But how could adult seminarians and priests not report these things? Likewise, how could Bishop McCarrick rise in the ranks so easily? And here I will offer only a few explanations; there are many others, and this is not meant to be an exhaustive analysis.
To be clear, this kind of abusive behavior is not confined to diocesan seminaries. Religious orders are also places where men in power can abuse power, even in sexual ways. Also to be clear, at least in my experience, these situations are not common in either in diocesan life or religious life and are far from “rampant”—a word that one reporter used in a conversation with me recently. Cardinal McCarrick’s case should appall everyone, but it is not, at least as far as I know, the norm.
Let me answer the first question: How could seminarians and priests not report these things?
To ignore reports of this kind of abuse is sinful.
First, some did report them but were ignored. The Times reported that Boniface Ramsey, O.P., a well-respected Dominican priest, related these incidents to the papal nuncio (the official charged with recommending episcopal appointments to the Vatican). According to the Times, the nuncio encouraged Father Ramsey to send a letter to the Vatican, but Father Ramsey "said he never got a response." Why? For several possible reasons. As we saw in the clergy child abuse crisis, the tragic tendency was for church leaders to trust the person they knew. Bishop McCarrick may have been better known at the Vatican than was Father Ramsey. Also, at the time, these kinds of malign behaviors were often considered “moral problems,” that is, sins that one could apologize for, and be forgiven. (There is often a grossly misplaced emphasis on “forgiveness” in cases of abuse.) Finally, there may have been a discomfort or disgust with the homosexual or even sexual aspect of it, and therefore a desire for the charges to simply “go away.” Finally, sin: to ignore reports of this kind of abuse is sinful.
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Second, there may have been a enormous amount of shame or embarrassment among the seminarians and priests who were forced into McCarrick’s embrace or bed. Perhaps the shame of it happening to a victim who is an adult—who might have been more physically able to “fend off” the advances—is greater than that of a child, who is incapable self-defense in this situation. Abuse is never the fault of the person who is abused or mistreated, but, nonetheless, the shame may persist. “Why didn’t they punch him in the face when he said that?” is a question I often hear about such cases. Likewise, there may be a sense of not being “man enough” to resist. Finally, if the victims are themselves gay, they may feel ashamed of their own sexuality. Taken together, these factors contribute to an overwhelming amount of shame.
Cardinal McCarrick was one of the most powerful men in the U.S. church. What could saying something about him do to your career?
Third, some of these former seminarians and young priests in these dioceses may still be in active pastoral ministry. Bringing up unsavory details about a powerful cleric may make them fear being seen as “trouble-makers” or “complainers” in their dioceses or among their brother priests. Cardinal McCarrick was also one of the most powerful men in the U.S. church, the bishop of one of the major sees in the universal church and a personal friend of several popes. What could saying something about him do to your career?
Likewise, many former seminarians might be hard to track down and want no part of the episode for the same reason: shame. The problem with reporting on this story, then, is twofold: the former seminarians may be hard to find and those who stayed are probably loath to discuss it. This makes the Times’ reporting all the more important.
All these explanations are not excuses. And, as I said, as far as I know, the kinds of egregious cases like Cardinal McCarrick’s are not the norm.
This brings me to the second question: How could he have risen so rapidly through the church’s ranks with these accusations leveled against him?
First, there is, again, the human tendency to accept the word of the person you know—here, the bishop over the seminarian or the newly ordained priest. (The same tendency contributed to the child abuse crisis: taking the word of the priest over the parent.) Second, the historic tendency for some church leaders to view these abuses primarily as “moral problems,” where an apology and a promise to repent and mend one’s ways suffices. Third, the discomfort with dealing with anything resembling homosexuality. Fourth, the reluctance among some members of the church hierarchy in dealing with sexuality in any way at all. Fifth, Bishop McCarrick’s talent, intellect and work ethic made him a “desirable” candidate for promotion to the Archdioceses of Newark and later Washington, D.C.
But finally the answer is sin. As I said, this is not a complete analysis, but any analysis must use this word. There is plenty of sin to go around: the sins of nuncios and all church leaders who disregarded, downplayed or simply ignored these reports, the sins of all those in power who turned a blind eye to years of the abuse of power, and, finally, the sins of Cardinal McCarrick himself, who became not a servant leader but an abusive one.
Editor's note: this article has been updated to include further detail on Father Ramsey's report to the nuncio.
The major "sin" is that of "Saint" John Paul II, who believed that every charge of child abuse coming from the English-speaking world was similar to what he had encountered in Poland, when the commissars falsely accused priests of homosexual pedophilia in order to defame the Church. And then there came Pope Ratzinger, who, although he did begin the reversal of Pope Wojtylwa's negligence, compounded the problem of clerical secrecy by decreeing a witch hunt throughout seminaries in order to weed out the "intrinsically disordered" (including, I suppose the devoutly chaste James Alison, or Father Judge, the saintly hero of 9/11). The problem is not one or another "intrinsic disorder," or we'd have no priests at all. (Almost EVERYONE in our decadent societies is "intrinsically disordered" in some manner or another.) The problem is men LYING their way into the sacerdotal role, rather than honestly admitting their failings and sins, and resolving to accept celibacy and continence (or, in the regular clergy, chastity) as a lifelong commitment.
Don't forget the sin of pretending the virtues are unrealistic or excessively burdensome. Or the sin of identifying the moment of sin in life of another without knowledge of their assent of soul. The naivete of John Paul is not proof of his "sin."
I used the word "sin" in its venial, or relatively non-pejorative sense (even though I do think his canonization was precipitous).
The columnist Rod Dreher is no friend of the Catholic Church, but I’m afraid that he’s right about John Paul II:
“Here’s the point: The Church knew. The Vatican knew. What is crucial for you to understand is that the Vatican advanced McCarrick to the cardinalate even though it had been warned about the kind of man he was. It let McCarrick take the lead in speaking out on sexual abuse, even though it knew he was himself an abuser. The Vatican knew what it had on its hands.”
I had never heard of either of these men before reading your comment.
It did not take long to find that James Alison was OPENLY GAY and PUBLICALLY SUPPORTED THE LEGITIMACY OF THE GAY LIFESTYLE. So much for devoutly chaste!
That is someone teaching morals contrary to the Judeo-Christian revelation and points to a scandal.
The reports of the Franciscan Judge were more cagey and focussed on his compassionate ministry.
We sinners are loved enough for the son of Yahweh to die to obtain release from our sins for us, that is we are loved despite or even because of our pitiful state of tendency to sin in all sorts of ways and often - your judgements bear no relationship to the real standing of each of us in the heart of our Loving God.
Alison is no proponent of the libertine "gay lifestyle" you reference; instead, he advocates a reevaluation of the Church's position on same-sex-love, based on a closer look at both Sacred Scripture and the science addressing the etiology of homosexuality. Your suggestion of Father Judge's dishonesty is pure calumny.
I cite public self-exposure of Alison in https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=26181
Please demonstrate to me, using my words, where I have in any way accused Judge of dishonesty or just pull your head in.
I see nowhere in that article any evidence that Alison is anything other than a chaste and celibate, albeit openly "same-sex-attracted" priest. I reject the notion that the word "gay" implies genital sexual activity.
Mr. Lewis, while there is probably some truth to what you say (about John Paul II) it is only a small part of the real problem. The problem isn't just John Paul II and Ratzinger. The problem isn't the church's teachings on sex, or, at least not only the teachings about sex. The problem isn't homosexuality. The foundational problems are two: first is the idolatry of the church regarding the clerical class, the ordained priesthood. Second is the linking of the idea that women are temptresses, potential occasions of sin with the idea that sex is unholy, and meant only for procreation. It was only during the last century that the church grudgingly conceded that sex might have a unitive role to play in marriage, one that is totally different from the role sex plays in procreation. The misogyny of the church is a factor in this.
John Paul II and Ratzinger simply perpetuated the teachings that hold the priesthood up as an ontologically "superior" state. They (esp. John Paul II) also perpetuated the teachings on sex that holds that sex is for the man (to keep him from sinning due to lust, he should marry) and that women are passive receivers of sex, so that they can do their job - bear children.
Augustine went so far as to teach that it is a venial sin to enjoy sex. Marriage was tolerated in order to prevent sin (legal sex to prevent fornication) and to ensure the procreation of the species. Homosexual sex is not procreative, so it is condemned, as love was not seen as an important factor in marriage by the church throughout most of its history. Many bishops still teach that marriage is not for the couple, it is not for love, it is an obligation - to marry and form families for the "community" - procreation.
Women were seen as "temptresses". Paul conceded that it was better for men to marry than to burn in hell because of fornication, but otherwise believed that staying unmarried was the "higher" state and was more than a little insulting towards women.
The church teaches that Jesus was the "new" Adam, replacing the sinful Adam, and that Mary was the "new" Eve, replacing the temptress Eve, who caused Adam to sin because of her sexual allure. This is one reason the church teaches that Mary was "ever virgin" - the church sees sex as a necessary evil, and Mary had to be "perfect". In their minds, any woman who is not a virgin cannot be "perfect", so, in spite of multiple references in the scriptures to Mary's children (plural), the church has twisted itself into a pretzel trying to claim that the word used really means "cousins" or other relatives. Mary and Joseph, according to the church, did not consummate their marriage, yet dares to hold their example up as the "ideal" marriage.
The teaching that holds up clerics as being ontologically superior to the non-ordained is at the heart of the matter of sexual abuse by clerics, whether Cardinals or priests. This is one reason Fr. Martin did not (chose not to?) believe the rumors he heard about McCarrick. There have been many reports of hierarchy abusing seminarians and young priests, just in the last 15 years. The teaching about the superiority of priests (believed by many lay Catholics, unfortunately) is the reason so many teens and children were not believed when they told bishops or pastors what Fr. X had done to them. This is the reason the church demanded silence from its bishops, demanded that they not report these crimes to authorities when the young were involved. Very often parents did not believe their children, because surely a "holy" person like a priest would never do such a thing. Other parents agreed to keep silent in order to protect "Holy Mother Church" from scandal. Some agreed to keep quiet in return for payments. The power and elevated "place" of the priests in charge of seminarians or young priests is the reason seminarians who really want to be priests stay silent, even after they report to bishops what was done to them. Some may leave, but those who stayed may have kept silent about what was done to them in order to save their “careers”, just as the young actresses did when on Weinstein’s casting couch.
Sex and power – the same abuses, the same evils that are seen in secular society are present in the church - in the church largely because of its own teachings. These teachings are at the root of the clericalism that is the root of these sins and crimes.
There is much that you say above with which I agree, although I do not believe that the modern Catholic Church is so firmly misogynist or homophobic as it used to be; many other Christian denominations are worse. However, your general point about the deadly quality of the puritanical strain of much Christian moral theology is well taken. What is the most striking in all of this, to me, at least, is the fatal dishonesty about human nature, needs, intentions and character. It's the closet and its secrecy that destroyed all these lives, including, ultimately, even that of this wicked cardinal.
Mr. Lewis, while the RCC may not be quite as misogynist or homophobic as most evangelical protestant churches, the reverse is also true - the RCC lags far behind many other christian denominations on this subject (especially in its misogny), and continues to dig in its heels on the subjects.
The secrecy, the insistence that gay priests stay "in the closet", and the teachings about sexuality in general are obviously part of the problem. However, the biggest problem is that the clerical class has set itself apart from the rest of the members of the church, insisting that their vocation is ontologically superior, using their positions and power to intimidate the "simple faithful", and to abuse the laity, seminarians and young priests, adult women and not just by sexually abusing them, whether children or adults. One example - there are many children not being supported by their Catholic priest fathers because these men don't have the integrity to leave the priesthood and help the mothers take care of their children. There is an entire support organization out there for children of Catholic priests. In some cases, the priests have secretly provided financial support for the mothers, but not in all cases and the lack of active fathers in their lives also is detrimental to the children.,
The clerics have made a false idol of themselves and also of the institution, an institution that is not "the" church. The brief term for this is clericalism. Until clericalism is destroyed in the church (I am not holding my breath), there will continue to be "scandals" which should not shock anyone. McCarrick is not the first to be exposed in recent years. Cardinal O'Brian of Scotland was banned from the last conclave, and forced to retire when it was revealed that he too had sexually harassed and intimidated seminarians and young priests. O'Brian not only spoke out strongly against legalizing gay marriage in the UK, he refused to conduct an investigation of the sexual abuse of minors in his diocese. Two bishops in a row in Miami were forced to resign when it came out that they had abused seminarians. A Polish bishop (and friend of John Paul II) resigned in 2002 when charges of sexual harassment of young priests and seminarians became public: Polish Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, a longtime acquaintance of Pope John Paul II, announced his resignation yesterday, making him one of the highest-ranking prelates to be brought down in a spate of sexual harassment allegations shaking the Roman Catholic Church..... The newspaper Rzeczpospolita cited unidentified priests as saying Paetz had been accused by numerous priests of having made sexual advances on young clerics. An entire seminary in Austria was closed in 2004 when it was revealed that the seminary's computers held thousands of pornographic photos of children, and that there were photos also showing "widespread sexual misconduct" - from the Washington Post: Since pornographic images were first discovered late last year, authorities have found about 40,000 photos and numerous videos, including some featuring child pornography, on computers at the seminary. Other photographs show students kissing and fondling each other and their older religious instructors. In 1998 Bishop Joseph Symons resigned from the Palm Beach Diocese after it came out that he had molested at least four boys when he was a parish priest. There are many, many other cases on record of higher level clergy sexually harassing or abusing the men whom they supervise as seminarians and priests. Obviously most priests, and most bishops do not sexually harass or abuse others. But many have done so, and it has been covered up consistently by those in the hierarchy who were aware and yet sought to protect both the abusing priests and bishops, and the institution - the institution - not THE church. The people harmed by these priests and bishops were of little to no concern to those who had the power to do something about it. The clerics and the institution always came first.
Well written and true. I particularly liked "Mary and Joseph, according to the church, did not consummate their marriage, yet dares to hold their example up as the "ideal" marriage.:"
If I may wander a little from the topic here. Recently, a priest in my parish gave a homily at Sunday Mass. He said that there is no word for 'cousins' in Aramaic. So, cousins were also called brothers and sisters. Your quote that Joseph and Mary did not consummate their marriage, yet the Church holds up their relationship the "ideal marriage." This speaks volumes. Ironically, the Church still requires consummation to to make a marriage licit and valid.
What I struggle with is what Jesus said on the Cross to John and Mary his mother where then Scripture said John took her into his house and cared for her. This is the argument that some make to prove indirectly that Mary did not have any children. However, if Mary had step children, as the Church asserts, would it not be their responsibility to care for Mary after the death of Jesus and not John?
Michael, I don't really like to get into discussions about translations nor do I like to proof-text the bible to "prove" a point. I am neither a scripture scholar nor educated in ancient Greek. However, I would point out that the priest who repeated the church's standard claim that the words used in the bible to refer to Jesus' brothers (and in one case, sisters) can mean "cousins" in Aramaic seems a bit confused. The bible was written in Greek, not in Aramaic. Also, the debate has gone on since the early years of the church. One of those who put forth the idea that the siblings were not really siblings was Jerome. He wanted Mary to be a perpetual virgin because not only did he revere celibacy, he was quite anti-women (reflecting the patriarchal understandings of that era), whom he saw as inferior to men, and more sinful than men. Mary needed to be "perfect" - a virgin.
Other early writers believed that the "other children" may have been Joseph's children by a previous marriage (for example, Epiphanius) while Helvidius believed they were Mary's own children with Joseph. Obviously this debate has gone on since the early years of christianity, and it has not been resolved. It is unlikely to be resolved either. However, I tend to believe that Mary and Joseph had a normal marital sexual relationship and had children after Jesus' birth.
In addition, the scholars who favor the view that the children were Mary and Joseph's own natural children point out that the Greek words for "brother" and "sister" are used in the passages in Matthew and in Paul's letters to the Galatians and 1 Corinthians (adelphos, adelphe) while the Greek work for cousins (anepsioi) is used by Paul in Colossians. Paul surely understood the different meanings. The scholars who support the view that Mary had children with Joseph also point out that Luke refers to Jesus as "Mary's firstborn" and that in Matthew, it is said that Joseph took Mary as his wife and "kept her as a virgin until she gave birth to a son. Until.....
Anyway, after a lot of study done on my own, I finally came to the conclusion that most likely reason that the RCC adopted the teaching of "perpetual virginity" was because of its ancient patriarchal (distorted) views of sex, sexuality, and women. To justify this interpretation, it had to also distort the meanings of the ancient Greek words actually used to describe brothers, sisters and cousins.
Fr Martin's championship of homosexual rights should disqualify him from writing this off-kilter opinion piece. The Jesuits get further from orthodoxy every month.
Knowing nothing of Fr. Martin's person or personality, I found this piece informative and balanced, worth reading and worth sharing with other thinking adults. Calling this piece off-kilter and calling for the author's disqualification from writing it calls into question the remark's author's respect for other's free speech rights. He sounds too sure of his own claim to a monopoly of orthodoxy. He's more certain of his own thought than Heisenberg was of the uncertainty principle. America remains a magazine for thinking people. Not for mean people that say mean things.
You think Cardinal McCarrick was a nice person? He was a skilled predator with no conscience and no opponents (Martin included). This is an old story about an old man who was a well known pedophile/homosexual who got away with sodomy for decades and has countless damaged victims.
Can you invoke any more cliches of self-superior accusation? When did anyone challenge anyone else's free speech rights? Well you did in fact by making the false claim towards someone who did no such thing. The reasonable suggestion by a thinking adult to which you respond childishly was that Martin has a long public history of promoting the unqualified legitimacy of all thing homosexual and now he''s in a position of having to exercise monumental phoniness when exploitative homosexual behavior becomes undeniable.
With this comment you reveal far more about yourself than you do about Fr. Martin, about McCarrick, or about the Jesuits.
Is that some kind of joke, Allocca?
Is that some kind of joke, Allocca?
Fr. Martin is well qualified to discuss gay related issues because he has contact with the LGBT Community and has studied the issues involved. A person with preconceived attitudes who know nothing about the LGBT community has nothing useful to discuss.
The reprehensible sins of McCarrick are about abuse of power and sexual predation. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation or being specifically gay. Most sexual abuse involves men preying on girls and women. I was sexually abused by my mother for years beginning at the age of 12. You are dismissing and detracting the vast majority of sexual abuse by focusing on it as a "gay thing". I pray you educate yourself on sexual abuse to prevent further ignorance.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but every sexual act outside of marriage (man+Woman and it always will be that way) is a mortal sin. So indeed it about the sex. If the seminarians were willing - he still should have been laicized/defrocked for being a complete failure.
Very thoughtful article, Fr. Martin. We have seen this sort of abuse in every institution, from public schools to Hollywood, but it is especially disappointing in God's holy Church. There will be those who will look for scalps, and indeed the fault of not reporting rests with the American colleagues of the Cardinal most of all. To your list of contributing explanations, I would add the failure of the clergy to adequately teach chastity and expect chastity of each other. Sex has been psychologized way too much, talked about too much and excused too much, so that any attraction, no matter how perverse, has been accepted as part of the norm (recall the popularity of the Fifty Shades BDSM as an example). But, this is in particular a homosexual scandal and a coverup of homosexual sins. The Church must examine its procedures to guard against this particular challenge of our time. Pope Francis spoke about this challenge in our seminaries in May, so I expect he knew this was to become public. https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2018/05/24/pope-doesnt-want-practicing-gays-in-seminaries-reports-say/
I guess your proof that this was a homosexual problem is the absence of any cases of Catholic bishops preying on female seminarians or young priests.
Unless one is in complete denial, one can see this was a homosexual problem with Cardinal McCarrick, including the case of the recent underage allegation that precipitated the publicity. Furthermore, as the John Jay Report (the most comprehensive report ever conducted on any institution) found, 82% victims were male, 67% post-pubertal. Obviously, these victims were not clerical. Half the clergy were under 35 at the time of abuse. By the way, the Jay Report also found, that over a 50-year period, 4.4% clergy were accused of sexual abuse, and 0.26% were convicted. And, in relation to Humanae Vitae, the peak was the decade after HV was released and rejected by so many clergy & laity. By the 1990s, rates had returned again to the 1950s.
Compare these numbers with other organizations:.
Christian Science Monitor https://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0405/p01s01-ussc.html "Despite headlines focusing on the priest pedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant, and most of the alleged abusers are not clergy or staff, but church volunteers."
Public schools: "The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests." https://www.cbsnews.com/news/has-media-ignored-sex-abuse-in-school/
Martin ignores one possible cause which has occurred to almost everyone else: that there are active homosexuals in the Vatican who identify and promote other homosexuals. It was not despite, it was because of McCarrick’s homosexual activities that he was promoted.
This is calumny; it's pure hearsay.
Robert Lewis, Read Philip Lawler. Google Cardinal Paglia's homoerotic fresco which he had painted above the altar of his Cathedral, complete with translucent garments covering an otherwise naked Jesus and arms feeling up the robes of other men. We know from the John Jay report that at the height of the abuse crisis over 90% of the victims were male, but much has still been hidden. If the hierarchy were really to come clean and let us know the gender of the victims and the amounts of the settlements in the each case, it would be obvious that gay bishops protect their own. People like retired bishops Dan Ryan, Tom Dupre, Patrick Ziemann, Kendrick Williams, Keith Symons, Lawrence Soens, Joseph Hart, Anthony O'Connel, Robert Lynch, and Rembert Weakland were covering for their felllow gay priests. In each of the above cases, it took the civil justice system to reveal that the bishop was gay as their "private" sins came to light to the general public. That isn't a roster of gay bishops or gay bishops who misbehaved. That's a roster of gay bishops whose misbehavior was discovered and publicized by the criminal justice system. Just add McCarrick to the mix. One more hypocrite talking about coming clean and cracking down on abuse while abusing others himself. One more pederast whom the church knew about and ignored, even promoted as a good person. Fr. Martin himself admits to hearing rumors and knowing the open secret that McCarrick used his power to abuse men, but like so many of Weinsteins enablers that never prompted him to dig at all. Even in this article, he ignores the fact that McCarrick was a monster who abused at least one boy in the sacristy on multiple occasions (as reported in the New York Times a few weeks ago). It's easier to paint the picture of a man as complex and flawed if you ignore the fact that he was a pederast and abuser of minors.
“…Cardinal Paglia's homoerotic fresco which he had painted above the altar of his Cathedral, complete with translucent garments covering an otherwise naked Jesus and arms feeling up the robes of other men…”
I suppose a silly, flesh-hating prude like you would have a problem with one of Michelangelo Buonaratti’s masterpieces, too:
This is a well worn conspiracy theory like priests and nuns having sex and aborting any pregnancies.
What Fr. Martin pussyfoots around in this article is the refusal to admit that the Church was always right in insisting that the homosexually inclined should be firmly dissuaded from the priesthood and not admitted to seminary. When Benedict XVI made that clear, no less than this journal applied the usual jesuitical hems and haws to try to tamp down that clear Vatican instruction. The tamping down that has been afoot for about 40 years (I recall the bridges my moral theology teacher, Anthony Kosnik of Human Sexuality fame, seemed inclined to build on this subject) and then we are surprised we have the situation we do in the Church.
What does being a homosexual have to do with fitness for the priesthood? Why would one's sexual attraction lead to abuse? In fact, according to Virtus.org, the overwhelming majority of pedophiles are heterosexual, and even those pedophiles who abuse the same sex have heterosexual relationships with adults. Granted, we aren't discussing children, but this abuse does involve power, secrecy, and I would argue, clericalism. This is a complicated issue, and I believe Father Martin does an excellent job of describing some of the elements involved. All clergy are called to live a celibate life; there is no proof that homosexuals are less capable of celibacy than heterosexuals.
As is demonstrated by the life of Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, the greatest priest-poet who ever lived. (His same-sex-attraction is explicitly spelled out in his notes for confession, verifying what is obvious from numerous of his poems, in which his praises of the Incarnation of the Lord in a male body employ homoerotic imagery). He lived and died a virtuous man and a devoted celibate.
The Vatican and many American rectories are hardly populated by Gerard Manley Hopkinses, focusing their poetic talents on sublimating their sexuality. If they were, we wouldn't be writing this article.
"..The Vatican and many American rectories are hardly populated by Gerard Manley Hopkinses..."
Actually, they are; in my experience, for every pederast or pedophile, there are about ten who ARE "sublimating their sexuality" of either the heterosexual or homosexual variety, for the sake of using their talents to further the Gospel. That must not be lost sight of in all this scandal, or the Church is lost for generations.
Anyone who pretends that the all-male environment of the priesthood is not, to use moral theology terminology some would call outdated, a "near occasion of sin" for a homosexual struggling with chastity is simply reading reality through an ideological lens that wants to pretend that the sexual element here is cancelled out by the power element.
Jim, The abuse crisis in the church was overwhelmingly gay in nature. At the height of the abuse crisis, 90% of victims were male. Are you suggesting that 90% of priests are male? If that's not the case, then gay priests abuse minors at much higher rates than heterosexual priests. There is no heterosexual version of NAMBLA, which the horrible abuser in Boston spoke at and promoted without repercussions.
Celibacy is the issue in taking vows for the priesthood, not sexual orientation. I've known gay priests who are celibate and straight priests who are not, some secretly married with children. A past co-worker's father is a priest. The Catholic Church cover-up was systemic and implemented by and large by straight bishops. To simply list gay bishops means nothing unless there is proof they were involved. Again, unless there is proof, I would assume they were celibate as the vast majority of clergy and bishops are regardless of sexual orientation.
As for ex-Pope Benedict, he appears to be a homosexual and by regarding his statements and writings, a self-loathing homosexual at that. I also believe that he has been celibate his entire life. As a brilliant theologian and philosopher, I would hope he would read about the scientific evidence that sexual orientation is a result of the natural order and review the Epistles in their cultural context and lessen his self-hatred and grow as a person. I will pray for him, my brother in Christ.
I as well as my younger brother were physically, emotionally and sexually abused by our parish priest for a number of years beginning when I was 13. I informed auxiliary Bishop of Newark in 1983 of what this priest had done. The bishop was quite annoyed with my account and didn't treat me kindly to say the least. The long and short, they didn't even remove this man from my parish, for a few years, that is not until Archbishop McCarrick chose to promote him to serve as his personal secretary.
I met with then Archbishop McCarrick in 1997 to personally tell him of my abuse and that of my younger brother at the hands of the man he promoted to serve at his side. He promised this priest wouldn't have access to children, I asked to be allowed to talk to seminarians and priests of the Archdiocese to tell my story and help them understand the harm done when clergy abuse children, he said that would be arranged. He said that I was the first clergy abuse victim he had ever met with and that I helped open his eyes to the suffering this causes. Lastly I made clear I was deeply offended by repeated requests for secrecy and explained that would never happen. It didn't take long for me to realize none of these promises would be kept. They again asked for confidentiality, My abuser, Father Ken Martin was returned to ministry after a short time away and I later saw a picture of him and the Archbishop surrounded by children in the Archdiocesan paper. Now I really wonder, what other known child abusing clerics did he protect? Yes I am angry to now realize he himself was a predator and his expressions of empathy and compassion were just an act. These secrets kept for so long, by so many truly hurts.
When can we expect our bishops to tell the whole truth, to start protecting the people they have been sent to serve instead of protecting an institution? Long, long overdue is the time for the whole truth. The festering wound of clergy child abuse cannot heal until our bishops come clean and the whole truth is told. 16 Years since the explosive Boston revelations rocked this country and our Bishops are still covering for known predators.
I'm so sorry about what happened to you and your brother. The response you received from the auxiliary Bishop, is evil, pure and simple. What kind of priest doesn't provide comfort and advocacy for an abused person? If still alive, he needs to publicly confess and be defrocked. Repentance and forgiveness are important and part of the Jesus' teachings but this does not mean he should be in any position in the Church, and it does not prevent him from being prosecuted in civil court. I was sexually abused by my mother for years beginning at the age of 12 and I know the intense life-long trauma resulting from the abuse. Many people, including commentators on this forum dismiss, minimize, rationalize, and deflect it as a "gay problem". These people need to educate themselves because they add to the pain of the abused. As survivors of sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuse, we know the resulting hurt. May we pray for each other, speak out, and advocate for other abused souls.
Where was Fr. Martin a month ago as this story was breaking?
The NYT had deep reporting on this and spiked the story, deciding not to publish around the time of the gay marriage decision. Reporters like Phil Lawler and Rod Dreher who were trying to get the story and having sources turn down going on record have a much better perspective on "Why" people didn't speak up (at least why victims didn't speak up, given that they heard the excuses). McCarrick was ruthless in punishing clerics who crossed him. The idea based on the story of the woman that McCarrick was a merciful man is a fiction. He was an evil preditor who preyed not only on seminarians, but also on youth (and his preying on a teenager in the sacristy is why this story broke) . To present McCarrick only as an abuser of adults via his position of power or to present him as merciful does a disservice to how deeply corrupt the man was.
But I guess the gay lobby covers for its allies.
McCarrick is now a symbol of what is wrong with the Catholic Church, i.e. treat hierarchy with hands off even when evidence is absolute of wrong doing. I'm a 77 year old Catholic, raised in the Catholic school tradition. Some of my sons have no respect for the Church hierarchy following the evidence of clergy abuse and the hurt they put on one of them. Today I could care less what a Cardinal or Bishop says today. I don't think most proclaim from the preference for the poor or afflicted. I'll listen to Pope Francis' guidance! It is sad.
Robert Davison, You will listen to Pope Francis, and yet Pope Francis is the first pope to be implicated in personally covering for child sexual abusers like Bishop Barros? Pope Francis who ignored and let expire the lay commission on child sexual abuse that Pope Benedict set up? Francis who either ignored the letter Cardinal O'Malley delivered to him from Bishop Barros' abuse victims or read it and outright lied about receiving it when covering for Barros?
Pope Francis admitted his mistake, sent a Vatican team to further investigate the treatment of the abused men in Chile, confirmed the cover-up by the bishops, met for hours with the outspoken abused men, telling one of the men, who is gay, that God made him that way, summoned the entire Chilean Conference of Bishops to the Vatican to deal with this systemic problem, received resignations from all of them, and accepted the resignations of several of them, including Barrios and a Cardinal. The abused men who met privately with the Pope all said that he listened to them, asked them for forgiveness, and spiritually comforted them. That is a good way to handle it and the American Bishops should follow suit.
For example, Burke is a moron.
Any organization has hierarchy, and hierarchy, most of the time, is linked to power. Mismanaging power is one of the most common and greatest sins; so attractive that even Satan tempted Jesus with it (Mathew 4:8-9). I think that power mismanagement, at the individual and institutional levels, is behind abuse against children and young priests.
" Over the past few years, I had heard stories about Cardinal (then Bishop and Archbishop) McCarrick’s summer home, where he would invite (or suborn or force) seminarians to share a bed with him, massage them and invite them to call him “Uncle Ted.” But at the time they were unsubstantiated rumors, and I knew no one with any first-hand knowledge. (Otherwise, I would have reported them.)"
An outrageous, totally unacceptable excuse. You should have looked into it further. You should have reported it as rumors with the idea of insisting if false, the rumors be stopped, if true, the behavior be stopped.
What would you have done about rumors of theft, a mistress? Ignored until had first hand knowledge?
I expect more and better from Jesuit leadership.
thank you for calling Martin out on such a wimpy excuse.