Cardinal McCarrick, seminarians and abuse: how could this happen?

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, is pictured in a 2017 photo (CNS photo/Bob Roller) Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, is pictured in a 2017 photo (CNS photo/Bob Roller) 

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.

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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.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of the sex abuse crisis]

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.

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Danny Collins
1 year 4 months ago

Well said, Joan. Fr. Martin was an enabler who refused to dig, even when confronted with the truth of the open secret that everyone apparently knew about and nobody was willing to talk about. Fr. Martin's answer was a dodge. He had to have known or at least strongly suspected that the accusations were true. Just like Weinstein, everybody knew. If he didn't know they were true, then he had a duty to ask the speaker to stop spreading calumny and unsubstantiated rumor. But of course he didn't ask that because, of course, he knew the rumors were almost certainly true.

Still, Fr. Martin did nothing. He is a major spokesman for the church on matters of how the church should relate to gays, and he said nothing when told about the sexual abuse of males by a powerful cleric.

Lisa Weber
1 year 4 months ago

Speaking truth to power is always a dangerous business, especially for those who are vulnerable. Seminarians and newly ordained priests would be very vulnerable with regard to a bishop or cardinal. My personal observation is that Catholics are incredibly tolerant of sexual abuse by those in religious life.

Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago

Maybe instead of asking how disturbed people in the church get away with their abuse for so long, we should ask why the church seems to attract so many disturbed people in the first place. The Catholic church has much more abuse problems than churches without mandatory celibacy and which let women be pastors ... http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2013/10/25/3877103.htm

Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago

Crystal - you are so full of anti-Catholic prejudice, no doubt related to your blindness to abortion, the ultimate child abuse. Here is the Royal Commission report on the Episcopalian Church - https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/mar/17/royal-commission-reveals-scale-of-child-sexual-abuse-in-anglican-church. Here is the Methodist church https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-32909444. And here is your Church https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2018/02/20/how-common-sexual-misconduct-hollywood/1083964001/

Eva Arnott
1 year 4 months ago

I was an active member of an Episcopal parish for twenty years before becoming a Catholic in the Boston archdiocese in the late eighties. There seems to be a similar proportion of people in every religion who are an embarrassment to the others I wonder, though, whether the fact that there is no family to be considered, makes it more likely that the misdeeds of Catholic priests will be publicized. In my Episcopal parish, the organist/choir director seduced/abused a seventh grade choirboy. When this became known, it was decided that a parent would be always be present during choir practice and the man would leave without any scandal at the end of the school year. I took my turn in supervising rehearsals and cooperated in the coverup because he had a wife and four school-age children. If he had been single, I would not have done that

Robert Lewis
1 year 4 months ago

Your point should logically be about the secrecy and the closet--not about the celibacy. Jesus Christ and Saint Paul clearly preferred celibacy for their apostles. I'll favour women priests before I'll accept a married, materialist, family-preferring and bourgeoisified clergy.

Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago

Jesus and Paul were celibate - maybe. We don't really know that. It would have been bizarre for them to not be married given their culture, and it's not like they were part of some austere cult like the Essenes. Meanwhile, it appears that all the disciples were married, including Peter.

Robert Lewis
1 year 4 months ago

Yes, they were all married, but inclined to give up their wives for the sake of their ministry, remembering that their Master said that the preferred state was that of eunuchs "for the kingdom's sake"--that same Master who dismissed family relationships with the phrase "Who is my mother...?" and who said that there would be no giving or taking of spouses "in my Father's house."

Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago

"The facts are we [the Catholic chuch] are at the very centre of the Royal Commission because collectively the Catholic Church is responsible for more abuse than any other institution in Australia, public or private." ... http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2015/10/23/4337562.htm

" in my opinion, and based on the available data, there has been around six times as much child sexual abuse by clergy and religious in the Catholic Church as there is by ministers of religion in all the other churches in Australia combined - and I would regard that as a conservative figure." ... http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/11/15/3633611.htm

Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago

Wrong again, Crystal. Even if I leave out the child abuse of abortion, the vast majority of abusers are lay people, and non-Catholics.
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/
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."

Anthony Noble
1 year 4 months ago

Dear Ms. Watson,
Your concerns are sincere but the facts are wrong. I have worked with clergy, both gay and straight, and I found the vast majority to be kind, celibate, mentally stable, holy, and genuinely wanting to help others. I have also known cranky, emotionally cold, self-righteous, and living in Ivory Towers with little understanding of how real people live but these are very few in my experience and I think they need counseling, psychotherapy, or leave the priesthood. Again, they are very few - maybe 5% to 10% max. A media report from Australia can point out individual cases of horrendous abuse though it is not representative of the priesthood as a whole. Sexual abuse does occur in all church denominations and synagogues though the Catholic Church gets more press, I think, because of our huge size involving 25% of the American population. Married priests and ordained women may not be the answer to the abuse problem though I agree with you wholeheartedly that the Catholic Church should include both.

Peter Schwimer
1 year 4 months ago

Truth be told, the Church is not really interested in believing lay persons. The hierarchy would much rather believe the ordained. If you ever wonder why our churches are empty, take a look at yourselves. Parishionersare better educated, some better educated than their pastor. They are simply unwilling to put up with the bs.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago

Peter - There you go again. Not interested in understanding, just being anti-Catholic. And, our Churches are not empty - just the ones you go to. I suppose the great liberal colleges would be more open to listening - Not! http://www.invw.org/sexual-assault/

Matt Teegarden
1 year 4 months ago

Speaking as a 58 year-old man, I love the Catholic Church but struggle to be obedient. Speaking as a licensed clinical social worker for the past 36 years, the church must look at the structural, organizational, and procedural practices that make it prone to abuse. Even in saying this, I know that I invite attack. Any system that can't be questioned is at risk for abusive behavior.

Joan Sheridan
1 year 4 months ago

Joan McNiff is right.about Fr. Martin. He should have reported what he heard. Bishop D'Arcy of the Boston archdiocese had only heard rumors about a particular priest. He wrote to the Cardinal and also refused to have him in his region.

Joan Sheridan
1 year 4 months ago

The kind of behavior described here does not stand alone. I heard that Cardinal McCarrick was not always honest with the other Bishops when he was passing on information to them from the Vatican.

Henry George
1 year 4 months ago

I have friends who were in the Seminary and in Religious life, some stayed and became
Priests and Brothers, some left.

All of them told me how any voice/question raised against those in charge
would lead to you being shown the door and those remaining being told you had some
"Deep and serious problem" that we are not free to talk about."

As anyone can tell you once you have been dismissed from a Seminary or an Order
it is very difficult to be considered by any other diocese or order...you have to consider what
you are giving up if your report the vices of your superiors or the alleged vices. If you turn
down a superior, you soon find yourself being moved toward the door.

How such an abuser
could be made a Cardinal
boggles my mind.

Dennis Hayes
1 year 4 months ago

"how could this happen?" o please. please.

Christopher Lochner
1 year 4 months ago

This is foolish, really. The public persona which is theatrical in presentation to the public tends not to represent the actual person in private. Bing Crosby, Weinstein, the list goes on. What connects the dots are the power and money which were in play, yes, even in the church. Who knows how many complaints were filed and ignored? As I've stated before, a parish I was associated with had rampant amounts of theft by staff. Taking evidence to Father, he refused to accept it. To this day he can honestly claim he never saw any evidence. Hierarchy protects their own. It has to stop!!!

Mary Kambic
1 year 4 months ago

I was an employee of a Catholic archdiocese 25 years ago, when employees were let go over "budget" concerns. Rumors spread that the budget was strained by legal fees over a pedophile priest. Whether or not this was true, the "rehabilitated priest" was given an office job at the archdiocese, while the laid-off employees, including several priests and sisters, were dismissed past a door which had the pedophile priest's name on it. The irony has stayed with me a long time. Having been involved on more than one occasion in reporting clergy others had confided in me to have committed suspicious actions, I have experienced serious attention from authorities and also being dusted off. In a recent incident, I attempted to call attention to a church employee and "donor" who even though fired for sheltering a pedophile priest in the past, still remains a member of a papal honor society. I truly believe that it is not easy to report people, and if you do, it takes the tar out of you for a long time! Please don't be hasty to condemn those who you believe should speak up. It is a cross to be carried on your back. I am grateful for the friends, priests and sisters, who have been in my life and were not afraid to name evil. That is a grace to be treasured.

Phillip Stone
1 year 4 months ago

One of the chosen, Judas, shows how it could happen, he chose to betray and it does not matter what were ostensibly his reasons as the choice to act is what mattered.

The Catholic Church must resolutely obey one clear verse in the Matthew 23, "call no man on earth your father, ... "
Call them any of the other available respectful honorific pre-nominals; Pastor or Minister or Rector or Reverent or Elder or Presbyter. The Holy Spirit must have a good reason to include such a clear statement in the earliest writings discerned as revealed truth.

From now, the entire population of the faithful are to be involved in the choosing of men from amongst themselves as suitable and acceptable to be considered as helpers of the bishop - that is what they are - presbyters - and I would go further and insist that the community from which a presbyter is accepted be involved in the next step, anointing as a bishop if that is discerned as the will of God. We need apostles with hearts like Angelo Roncalli which he exposed in his Journal of a Soul - every reader will become aware of his heightened awareness of his own sinfulness and fallibility.

Vincent Gaglione
1 year 4 months ago

Father Martin, in discussing the various reasons that the crimes and sins described were never confronted publicly in the past, provides explanations that make some sense. However, the penitential confessions endured by so many Catholics of an older generation who were verbally, emotionally, and psychologically assaulted by confessors, allowed for no such “excuses.” The purists among us now write here that the Church needs cleansing, more confessional penitence full of assault and denigration. I would argue otherwise.

What the Church needs now, and has, is Francis, a Pope who pretends to no adulation by dint of office, who holds no attitudes of clericalism, and who preaches mercy for all of us as sinners. We are ALL sinners, no excuses. We ALL ask for God’s mercy and we expect evidence of that truth from our clergy as they behave to and for us. That would be a good start, from my point of view, to restore confidence among the baptized in our Church. Another person's sins, while fodder for the media, are theirs to reconcile with the Almighty. Perhaps we need to witness for others the same mercy that we want for ourselves.

None of what I write should be construed to mean that there are not serious consequences for sinfulness that harms others. Sins must be forgiven. Harm to others must be satisfied with justice in charity.

Robert Lewis
1 year 4 months ago

You are absolutely right, but don't you think that the offenders should publicly express repentance, rather than denial, before we extend forgiveness to them? The attitudes of the Church hierarchy now reflect self-righteousness and a degree of self-exculpation that is inexcusable. You are right that that is not Pope Francis's attitude, but I don't detect his feelings as being shared by very many hierarchs.

Christopher Lochner
1 year 4 months ago

Justice in charity??? What???? Jesus said to go and sin no more. He didn't say meh, too bad, show Mercy. This is where we are going. It's all about Mercy but never really at all about sin. Francis is not showing Christian compassion but is playing easily into the hands of evil. Christ never said Blessed are the naive and foolish. I can see him during the 1940s. So, someone kills a hundred Jews, that's kinda mean but...Mercy, no judgement, no long sentence, whatever. Evil would listen to Francis in wonderment...so it's not Ok but it's Mercy and there's no punishment (another very bad concept) So very cool. Evil really loves this. Again, Christ was neither naive not foolish but Francis certainly is.

Vincent Gaglione
1 year 4 months ago

My phrase, “justice in charity,” is meant to convey a lack of revenge and absence of “tit for tat” attitudes and severities. I do not believe in the death penalty, though there are moments, such as some of your examples, where the gut response is to demand that the criminals’ heads be chopped off! But that’s the gut, that’s not Christianity.

McCarrick’s public shaming, his removal from public celebration of the sacraments, his sentence to prayer and penance, while never making up for the damages that he inflicted, serves my idea of “justice with charity.” I do not subscribe to the premise that he needs to be thrown into jail to win either an apology or justice for his victims. If indeed he refuses to apologize, then that will ultimately be settled with the Almighty. Consequences never make up for victims’ suffering. They only satisfy our demands for consequences and, often, they are not just at all.

In most instances, Christ said, “Go, and sin no more.” I do not recall any of his comments on criminal justice.

Christopher Lochner
1 year 4 months ago

Yes. It really is very difficult to be Christian in the modern world, but it always has been. (For certain!!) Creating a system of forgiveness with a realistic Mercy and justice with Love is darned difficult. Really, my annoyance isn't with you (sorry if I'm snappy!) or the Holy Father but arises from the hypocrisy of practice. We preach Love and Mercy but this is only for those who are well connected. If a "lesser" individual had such accusations against them then they would have readily been destroyed. I argue this point frequently with friends. A blue collar crime means jail while a white collar (connected) crime means forgiveness; the poor steal while the well connected are guilty only as sinners etc. Luke 17: 3-4. But the repentance must be sincere and not because one has been caught. Obviously, it's up to God to judge a Soul but we as humans must protect individuals against abuse and other crimes and need make clear that to not sin no more will have earthly consequences...or the sin will continue.

Vincent Gaglione
1 year 4 months ago

I cannot disagree with you, indeed you express what I often feel about our justice system. Thank you for expressing it so well.

Bill Mitchell
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks for your thoughtful piece, Jim. A question: Have any church authorities -- or any of his fellow clergy, for that matter -- publicly challenged McCarrick's claim that he remembers none of the abuse that's being so thoroughly documented by others? If nothing else, doesn't he owe all of us -- but especially his victims -- some basic accountability and acknowledgement of what he's done?

Danny Collins
1 year 4 months ago

Excellent point, Bill Mitchell.

Anita Cain
1 year 4 months ago

I am so sick of it ... I’m getting old. I could at this point, jump through the hoops of somewhat impressive credentials that could “prove” my Catholicism and academic grounding but I’m not going to do that ...THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!!!! For heavens sake, it’s a corrupt, insular, self-policing , psychologically sick, gender skewed, frightened, clingingly desperate group of mostly male members whose bizarre agenda is to find some sort of “reasonable explanation” for a CORRUPT process... to me it’s reminiscent of Gallieo, they just don’t want to deal with an “ inconvenient truth” of how wrong they have all been

Christopher Lochner
1 year 4 months ago

Nobody has to PROVE their Catholicism. This is how the power structure maintains corrupt control, by claiming to be closer to God than someone else! I still think we can take the Church back from the modern scribes and Pharisees but it will be an uphill battle.

justinreany@gmail.com
1 year 4 months ago

I am young, well educated with sufficient credentials in ministry and could not agree more! A "purge" is needed in Church, state, and popular society! We need to be rid of the perverts or pervert promoters like Tobin, McElroy, Cupich, Dolan, Wuerl, etc. Drain the swamp! Make the American Church Great Again!

Dolores Pap
1 year 4 months ago

Maybe if there were more cardinals such as Cardinal Tobin, I wouldn't have left the church...

Michael Krainak
1 year 4 months ago

You are correct and not alone. Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic church remains one of the few "churches" that is both intellectual and spiritual. Paraphrasing Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentlemen: "We have nowhere else to go". It's not clear what will happen when this current generation of priests is gone. Unfortunately, our Anglican/Episcopal disciples have been on their own slippery slope. God help us.

Anita Cain
1 year 4 months ago

I am so sick of it ... I’m getting old. I could at this point, jump through the hoops of somewhat impressive credentials that could “prove” my Catholicism and academic grounding but I’m not going to do that ...THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!!!! For heavens sake, it’s a corrupt, insular, self-policing , psychologically sick, gender skewed, frightened, clingingly desperate group of mostly male members whose bizarre agenda is to find some sort of “reasonable explanation” for a CORRUPT process... to me it’s reminiscent of Gallieo, they just don’t want to deal with an “ inconvenient truth” of how wrong they have all been

Anita Cain
1 year 4 months ago

I am so sick of it ... I’m getting old. I could at this point, jump through the hoops of somewhat impressive credentials that could “prove” my Catholicism and academic grounding but I’m not going to do that ...THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!!!! For heavens sake, it’s a corrupt, insular, self-policing , psychologically sick, gender skewed, frightened, clingingly desperate group of mostly male members whose bizarre agenda is to find some sort of “reasonable explanation” for a CORRUPT process... to me it’s reminiscent of Gallieo, they just don’t want to deal with an “ inconvenient truth” of how wrong they have all been

Anita Cain
1 year 4 months ago

I am so sick of it ... I’m getting old. I could at this point, jump through the hoops of somewhat impressive credentials that could “prove” my Catholicism and academic grounding but I’m not going to do that ...THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!!!! For heavens sake, it’s a corrupt, insular, self-policing , psychologically sick, gender skewed, frightened, clingingly desperate group of mostly male members whose bizarre agenda is to find some sort of “reasonable explanation” for a CORRUPT process... to me it’s reminiscent of Gallieo, they just don’t want to deal with an “ inconvenient truth” of how wrong they have all been

arthur mccaffrey
1 year 4 months ago

How could this happen? Hey Fr Martin--are you Rip Van Winkle--did you just wake up after a 50yr nap? McCarrick takes his place in a long line of abusive RCC CEOs--the NYT story correctly mentions Cardinal O'Brien of Scotland, but you don't. How could this happen, you naievely ask? Because the institution is corrupt. As for the "mystifying complexity of the human person" it all seems straightforward--McCarrick had appetitites which he managed to satisfy by wielding his power over weaker, more vulnerable members of his club. When you impose your will on another person who is unable or unwilling to fight back, that is a crime---not a sin but a crime. Despite your attempts to see everything thru the distorted Catholic lens of sin, there are some sins crying out to civil authorities for justice and vengeance--and your uncooperative Church thinks itself so far above the law that it tries to monitor its own deviants as an internal problem. You and all your tiptoeing brothers should have reported McCarrick a long time ago--as it stands you are complicit in any further damage he did after you knew what he was like.
And despite your claims that such cases are not "rampant" throughout the Church, just go read the final report of the Australian Royal Commission on Institutional Abuse, and count the thousands of cases of abuse recorded across Australian dioceses. And that is only one country!
Your apologia for McCarrick is neither fish nor fowl, but it does smell a little.

Sarah Kleman
1 year 4 months ago

I wonder if Fr. Martin will be shocked, shocked when he reads the Grand Jury Report soon to be released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Or if he'll tell us that he heard rumors in Pennsylvania also and just plain couldn't look into it any further or report anything about these mystifying complexities.

justinreany@gmail.com
1 year 4 months ago

Fr. Martin again dodged one of, if not the central, driving force behind the perversity in sexuality abuse of young men the Church - the gay contingency within the clergy. It cannot be denied. There seems to have been a nefarious push in the late 1950'summer through the 1990's to ignore, accept, or promote homosexual tendencies amongst seminarians and clergy. One of my dearest friends and six other seminarians left the seminary in Boston in the early 1990's due to the rampant homosexual climate there. The issue was raised with the then Cardinal Law but were rebuked as being homophobic and told to accept it or leave.

Pope Benedict XVI worked to filter out such men with effeminate proclivities. He is a great man for such efforts. Regretfully Pope Francis has made it a point that homosexual abuse will be one of the damning gems of his papacy. Seems to have been a great gay bolstering since Francis' election. By all means, Fr. James Martin SJ should have been silenced or dismissed by this point for his apostleship for the gay cause within the Church. In saner times I guess.

Pray for Cardinal McCarrick that he will be forgiven by God. Pray and fast for the Pope and our clergy that they might find zeal for the true Faith again. Pray that the gay cancer be purged from the Mystical Body of Christ!

"But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt 18:3)

Anthony Noble
1 year 4 months ago

Celibacy is the issue regarding the priesthood, not gay or straight. Your homophobic ignorance is evident by thinking gay men by definition "effeminate". This whole "gay mafia" Conspiracy Theory is bigoted nonsense. Meanwhile, Ex-Pope Benedict dismissed the accusations against McCarrick while Pope Francis cleaned house in the Chilean sexual abuse scandal.

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.

justinreany@gmail.com
1 year 4 months ago

We need a new generation of men that exhibit the virtue of fortitude. Any of these young men assaulted by the homosexual McCarrick should have beat his assistant within an inch of his perverse life! Any person that would have done this to me during my discernment in the early 2000's would have spent a week or two in the ICU. How could anyone acquiesce to this perverts demands?

Robert Lewis
1 year 4 months ago

I have to agree that you bring up a good point, but shall I tell you what a young friend of mine who also left the seminary because of this told me? He said, "because they want to 'make bishop.'" That young friend, by the way, was gay, and he left the seminary because he could not tolerate the vicious behavior of his "same-sex-attracted" brethren. I think he should have remained, because this former student of mine is still celibate, relatively chaste and a practising Catholic to this day.

justinreany@gmail.com
1 year 4 months ago

We need a new generation of men that exhibit the virtue of fortitude. Any of these young men assaulted by the homosexual McCarrick should have beat his assistant within an inch of his perverse life! Any person that would have done this to me during my discernment in the early 2000's would have spent a week or two in the ICU. How could anyone acquiesce to this perverts demands?

Sarah Kleman
1 year 4 months ago

What a bunch of weaklings. Grown men too scared to say anything about a man forcing them to have sex. Fr. Martin too scared to look into rumors and then, when others produce the story, he asks the lame question "how could this happen?" Priests too scared to report to bishops what they heard. And everyone calling this a sin too scared to call it what it really is, crimes against nature. How could this happen? Forcing the strong men out and only allowing the weaklings to pass through to ordination. Oh, and not allowing women in who, unlike the timid Fr. Martin, would have no problem calling out sexual crimes for what they are.

Eileen Flynn
1 year 4 months ago

The magisterium of the Catholic Church has produced an extensive corpus of teachings on sexual morality based on a few foundational premises. These premises stress the belief that God designed the sexual act to be heterosexual and that God wants the mechanics of the act to be carried out without attempts to block procreation. Anxious married people have been told that the practice of contraception is against God's will; if infertility is the issue they are struggling with, they are told to forget about homologous artificial insemination or IVF. God doesn't like these attempts at non-corporeal conception.
Energy has been expended defending rules of procreative morality and little attention given to critical issues such as consent to engage in intimate behavior. By considering gay sex to be taboo and a perversion of human intimacy the magisterium has managed to avoid extensive consideration of the topic, including "workplace" abuse involving ordained persons as well as ordained and nonordained, such as seminarians or college students. The psychological aspects of sex have been given short shrift and the mechanical aspects emphasized, leading to a Catholic culture in which far too many stories of abuse of minors and subordinates have come to light.
Pope Francis has a lot on his plate but he needs to add yet another task: revising Catholic sexual ethics so that it is based on a nuanced appreciation of human nature as well as a reluctance to proclaim the exact parameters of God's will based on a medieval construction of natural law.

Robert Lewis
1 year 4 months ago

You have stated the truth, and many Catholic writers, intellectuals and theologians agree with you, but the hierarchs are too afraid of the bigots in the pews to be as "prophetic" as Jesus Christ called them to be. I am afraid that this problem related to human sexuality is never going to be addressed in time for the Church to survive in modern society, no matter how humane, civilized and sophisticated is the theological tradition that would support such a "development" (John Henry Newman's term) in moral theology.

Danny Collins
1 year 4 months ago

Eileen, You would have more of a point if the subcultures that acted the way you describe actually had less sex abuse. Sadly, they don't. It is no coincidence that at the height of the sex abuse crisis, 90% of the victims were boys. There is no heterosexual version of NAMBLA, and sex abuse among the children of second marriages is at least an order of magnitude higher than among children living with biological parents, as anyone with rampant divorce and remarriage in their family knows. I myself have at least two cousins who were raped by step dads. If someone really cares about children, then living with their biological parents who are in a traditional marriage is the safest place for them to be.

Colin Donovan
1 year 4 months ago

A product of Creighton Prep and Creighton University of the 1930s once told me that the Jesuits of his day taught that, "all sin is rationalization." Moral, or governance, failures seldom begin with toleration of the sin, but with rationalization of the act. Yet, there is seldom any mention of the theological climate of the last half-century, predating even the widespread level of dissent from Humanae vitae, as a causative agent in the sexual abuse crisis and the governance failures that accompanied it.

Yet, in the last 50 or so years, Jesuits like Fr. Richard McCormick provided sophisticated rationalizations for "conscience" exceptions for unnatural (contraceptive) sex, and philosophers and theologians like Rahner and Lonergan set the stage for experiential theologies, such as Fr. John McNeill's "Queer Theology."

Consistent with this climate of "conscience" on mere moral acts, the usual complaint with McCarrick seems to be, as it is is here, the imbalanced power relationship, not the act itself. I wonder why.

chris faulds
1 year 4 months ago

So Fr Martin, Do we agree that there are certain sins, which if proven "cry out to heaven" or is all sin equal to you?

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