Albany priest describes culture of harassment under McCarrick

Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick speaks during a memorial service in South Bend, Ind., in March 2015. McCarrick has been removed from public ministry, pending an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP, Pool, File)Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick speaks during a memorial service in South Bend, Ind., in March 2015. McCarrick has been removed from public ministry, pending an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

Father Desmond Rossi says he first met Cardinal Theodore McCarrick when he was a seminarian in Newark in 1986. He says that he had heard rumors that then-Archbishop McCarrick cultivated inappropriate relationships with young men, murmurings that appeared to be confirmed following a visit by the archbishop to the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University.

Father Rossi says that unwanted touching and harassment from the archbishop, along with an alleged sexual assault by two seminarians, left him shaken and prompted him to transfer to a different diocese before he was ordained. Years later, he says, those experiences contributed to a deep depression that required a years-long leave from active ministry.

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A priest in active ministry in the Diocese of Albany today, Father Rossi says he recently shared his story with his bishop, who supports his decision to speak out, and with his parish.

During the newly installed Archbishop McCarrick’s first visit to the seminary, he made a point to greet each seminarian, including Father Rossi and another seminarian who was a friend. A few days later, that seminarian received a phone call from someone in the archbishop’s office asking if he would be interested in spending a night at a beach house with the archbishop. It would be decades before it was revealed that Archbishop McCarrick allegedly used those weekend getaways to sexually harass and assault seminarians and young priests.

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

The seminarian, who verified Father’s Rossi’s account of his experience with then-Archbishop McCarrick, asked to remain anonymous, and he is now a priest in a diocese in New York. He told America he was not aware of rumors about the archbishop and agreed to go. But the trip was canceled a few days later. (He and Father Rossi said they later deduced that the archbishop would cancel the getaways if there were not enough men committed to going that they would exceed the number of available beds, thus necessitating one guest to share a bed with the archbishop.)

Father Rossi says that unwanted touching and harassment from the archbishop, along with an alleged sexual assault by two seminarians, left him shaken and prompted him to transfer to a different diocese before he was ordained.

Father Rossi said when he learned from his friend about the invitation, alarm bells went off in his head.

“It confirmed for us the other stuff we had heard was true,” Father Rossi told America.

In the months following the archbishop’s visit to the seminary, Father Rossi said, he interacted with the archbishop a number of times, though always in large gatherings. But he said he had decided in the meantime that he would take a leave of absence from preparation for priesthood to discern his vocation. That is when he received a note from Archbishop McCarrick, handwritten on Archdiocese of Newark stationary, telling him that he hoped he returned to the seminary.

Though Father Rossi had been concerned about the invitation his friend received to the archbishop’s beach house, he said he did not initially find the note sent to him troublesome; in fact, he said he was “enamored” by the attention, even if he found it “unusual.” Years later, he came to interpret the note as part of a grooming process. Father Rossi shared a copy of the letter, which does not contain any overt sexual suggestions. But Father Rossi says he now views the letter as an archbishop trying to impress a young seminarian and making an effort to establish a more personal relationship.

The archbishop began the note saying he was on his way back to Newark from Miami, where he had visited in conjunction with Pope John Paul II’s September 1987 apostolic visit to the United States. Commenting on the rainy weather, Archbishop McCarrick wrote, “I’m still soaking wet three hours later! Everytime I walk in my shoes, I squish!”

Turning to then-Mr. Rossi’s pending leave, the archbishop wrote that he hoped the Lord “tells you that he needs you as a priest in Newark” and that as “a servant of this local church” that he would “be happy to have you back on the journey to the altar again.”

“You felt special,” Father Rossi said of the attention from the archbishop. “He’s very captivating, charming, personable. He laughs, listens closely.”

“If you need anything, let me know. You’re still very much part of the family. If you have a minute, drop me a line,” reads the note, which Father Rossi shared with America. Archbishop McCarrick also wrote that he hoped the pair would “have a chance to visit when next you get back East.”

“Now why is a prelate of the church reaching out to a 25-year-old kid in a personal letter?” Father Rossi asked. He said he found the attention from Archbishop McCarrick odd, especially in light of how he had interacted with the archbishop’s predecessor, Archbishop Peter Gerety, who, he said, was not as personable with the seminarians.

Following a nine-month leave spent in Arizona helping his mother renovate and sell her home, Mr. Rossi returned to Newark and decided to continue preparing for the priesthood. Over the next several months, Father Rossi said, Archbishop McCarrick made a number of overtures toward him that made him so uncomfortable that he eventually decided to transfer to another diocese to finish his studies.

Those interactions took place at St. Benedict’s Parish in Newark, where Father Rossi was completing pastoral fieldwork. Archbishop McCarrick visited the parish at least twice during Mr. Rossi’s placement, he said, including during a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.

Father Rossi said the archbishop had a habit of getting physically close to him during those visits, including touching his chest or elbow. He would comment on Mr. Rossi’s physical appearance, telling him he looked good and making comments about his weight.

“You felt special,” Father Rossi said of the attention from the archbishop. “He’s very captivating, charming, personable. He laughs, listens closely.”

During his time at St. Benedict’s, Father Rossi said, he hosted two friends from the seminary, who by that time were transitional deacons, a step in the ordination process. Following a night of drinking, Father Rossi said, the three men returned to the rectory. There, he said, one of the men threw him onto the bed and began kissing him while the other tried performing oral sex on him.

“It was at this moment I said to myself, ‘I’m leaving this diocese,’” Father Rossi said.

He said he did not report the assault out of a “strange sense of loyalty,” fearful that it would derail his friends’ careers.

“Part of the problem was, I think, [Archbishop McCarrick] kind of gave license to others by his own behavior,” Father Rossi said. “When you have that kind of corrupted morality at the top, it gives permission to others.”

But he said he was traumatized by the evening and began thinking he had made a mistake in returning to seminary life.

On a later occasion, Father Rossi said, he met with then-Archbishop McCarrick at the cathedral rectory in Newark. Though he cannot remember the occasion for the meeting, he said the archbishop sat very close to him, letting his hand linger on his knee. He said what made the gesture so troubling to him was the power imbalance between the two.

“When I’m in that office with him, I know that he’s touching me because he has power over me,” Father Rossi said. “And I’m allowing him to touch me because he has power over me.”

Father Rossi said the rumors he had heard about Archbishop McCarrick, the invitation his friend received to join the archbishop at his beach house and the archbishop’s visits to St. Benedict’s, combined with the rectory meeting, compelled him to a difficult decision.

“It was at this moment I said to myself, ‘I’m leaving this diocese,’” Father Rossi said.

To do that, however, he would need Archbishop McCarrick to sign off, which he said highlights the dangerous power dynamic prevalent in Catholic seminaries.

“There was no mechanism to go outside of the structure to warn someone that this was happening,” he said. “You had to go through the structure. And if you went through the structure, you put yourself at grave risk.”

Archbishop McCarrick signed off on Mr. Rossi’s request to leave the Archdiocese of Newark and move to the Diocese of Albany in 1988.

A former spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington who is close to Cardinal McCarrick said the cardinal would not be responding to specific allegations but following instructions from Rome, he has withdrawn from public ministry and will be cooperating with the Vatican in whatever process is initiated.

Last month, Cardinal McCarrick was removed from public ministry after a review board in the Archdiocese of New York determined that a decades-old allegation of sexual misconduct involving a minor was credible. Since then, other men have alleged that they were also victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse, including former seminarians. The 88-year-old cardinal denies the allegations but says he is cooperating with the investigation.

“Father Rossi has made it clear that he hopes his willingness to speak about his experience will encourage others who are afraid to come forward to share their stories and create conditions whereby this will not occur again.”

Cardinal McCarrick had cultivated an image as a reformer when it came to the church’s sexual abuse scandal, often serving as the public face of the hierarchy’s efforts to address the crisis. In a 2005 profile of him published in The Washington Post, the D.C. archbishop was described as “perhaps the most sympathetic face of the U.S. episcopate, expressing anguish and embarrassment when other prelates were still moored in denial.”

In 2003, Father Rossi brought his allegations about the 1988 incident with the two seminarians to the Archdiocese of Newark’s Review Board. He was told in a letter from the archdiocese, which he shared with America, that the allegations were deemed “credible” but that they could not be substantiated. A spokesman from the archdiocese did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Father Rossi said he agreed to a settlement with the archdiocese in 2004, for about $35,000, to cover the cost of counseling. He said he did not raise his concerns with Newark officials at the time about Archbishop McCarrick, who by then was head of the Archdiocese of Washington and a cardinal, for fear of retribution.

In a lawsuit brought by a former priest against several Catholic entities, including the Archdiocese of Newark, Father Rossi’s experience with the two seminarians is listed as evidence of a culture of abuse and coverup. (Father Rossi confirmed to America that he is the unnamed victim in the lawsuit but cautions that he does not believe all the other allegations detailed in the suit. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark said in 2009 that the former priest, Robert M. Hoatson, who filed the lawsuit is “a troubled man.”)

Father Rossi returned to active priestly ministry in the Diocese of Albany about a year ago following a roughly 15-year leave, which he said was due to developing “major depression and P.T.S.D. related to the abuse I experienced in Newark.” He said the sexual abuse crisis in the church, which was coming to light in 2002, triggered his depression.

Today, Father Rossi is the associate pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Glen Falls, N.Y., about 50 miles north of Albany. When the news about Cardinal McCarrick’s alleged behavior surfaced last month, he said he wanted to go public with his story. So he approached his bishop, Edward Scharfenberger, and told him his plans.

In a statement, Bishop Scharfenberger said he stands by Father Rossi.

“I support Father Rossi’s decision to share his story, which is what he feels he needs to do to bring about his own healing and to stand in solidarity with other victims of abuse,” the bishop said. “During our conversations, Father Rossi has made it clear that he hopes his willingness to speak about his experience will encourage others who are afraid to come forward to share their stories and create conditions whereby this will not occur again.”

For his part, Father Rossi said he wants his story to be made public to help others come forward. To that end, he said he told parishioners during Mass last weekend about what he experienced, which he said was met with applause. He said he wants a “total inquiry” to discover “who knew what” about Archbishop McCarrick and to discover why steps were not taken to protect seminarians from harassment.

“I hope that this gets cleaned up,” Father Rossi said. “I hope we’re starting now to be honest.”

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Henry George
4 months 3 weeks ago

Where was the Rector of the Seminary while all of this was going on ?

The absolute power that Bishops have over Seminarians makes this abuse possible.

The Parish and the Bishop should approve someone to be a candidate for the Priesthood.
If the Seminary or the Bishop wish to "drop" the Seminarian
the Seminarian should have the right to appeal to the Parish to remain a Seminarian -
that person should be allowed to tell their story to the Parish and the Parish should be
able to over-rule the Bishop.

Robin Smith
4 months 3 weeks ago

What's the equivalent hashtag for #MeToo?

Paul Bolin
4 months 2 weeks ago

It's the same. Sexual harassment and assault transcends gender lines. Men are simply less inclined to come forward because we are conditioned to feel that being assaulted undermines our masculinity.

Christopher Lochner
4 months 2 weeks ago

We need to attack this problem right now and do so very harshly and with a minimum of Mercy. What!? I'm supposed to show mercy to the devil? Haven't you wondered why there are so few Callings to the Church? Young people are not foolish; they've heard the rumors which are currently being validated. Friends and I have noted that to be truly loving towards one who is disposed towards the priesthood, a realistic advice need be offered along the lines of...hey that's great but how strong are you to fight the evil in church administration? Sigh! If this doesn't stop we'll have NO priests. Take the Church back, darn it!! And we don't need an investigation to rubber stamp the issue and offer an insincere apology yet once again . We need, yes, heads to rolllll!

arthur mccaffrey
4 months 2 weeks ago

my advice to Mr Rossi is to sue for as much $$ as he can get from RCC for PTSD, then leave the priesthood and find another vocation of service to his fellow man that does not involve being part of a criminal organization.
Seems like Rossi is very confused and conflicted and I hope he finds a good therapist to guide him. Rossi is absolutely correct that McCarrick was GROOMING him for further sexual exploitation--this is a classic behavior pattern among all pedophiles, and McCarrick was a pro-----the same charm that he used to bed his victims is the same charm he used to rise thru the RCC hierarchy. McCarrick should be in jail and on the Sexual Offender list just like all the other guys who are predators.

Fred Keyes
4 months 2 weeks ago

As wicked and deserving of severe punishment as the Cardinal's behavior and those of others like him was, it's still exceptional. The Church will survive it.

Suing it seems to me is OK to cover costs as Fr. Rossi did, but I can't see suing for money that comes ultimately from good people's pockets.

Molly Roach
4 months 2 weeks ago

Thank you Father Rossi for sharing your experience.

Will Niermeyer
4 months 2 weeks ago

Father Rossi thank you so much for speaking up. Reading this makes me want to vomit. Basically about the power of Bishops but not power from God but from the evil one in this case. This Cardinal must be removed, defrocked and turned over to lawful secular authorities. If there is no case under secular law then still defrock the guy and do not let him have access to any of his money he most likely has and most likely has hidden somewhere for a day that this abuse on his part gets out. Shameful behavior. What a reflection of the Church.

John Mack
4 months 2 weeks ago

Seminaries should have Boards of Trustees to mitigate the power of Rectors and Bishops. and a paid outside confidential ombudsman for seminarians to approach with problems. No one, especially a potential priest or priest, should be under the power of one or a few insiders. And abusive or cover up bishops should be turned over to the police for prosecution, with the diocese testifying against the perp.

Lisa Weber
4 months 2 weeks ago

Thanks to Fr. Rossi for speaking out about his experience.

Patty Bennett
4 months 2 weeks ago

The last sentence of this article is SO important: "I hope we're starting now to be honest".
THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE!

Irene COLLINS
4 months 2 weeks ago

Thanks, Fr. Rossi. Thanks too to Bishop Scharfenberger and Fr. Rossi‘s parish for their support of this important honesty. As for McCarrick, no question about it: he should be stripped of his cardinalate and laicized - justice for him, a signal to his ilk, and encouragement to our seminarians and young religious that they should not put up with such harassment.

Joan McKniff
4 months 2 weeks ago

Over a period of decades this behavior was not reported by a priest who said Mass, heard Confessions of Sins by lay people, who went to confession and received Communion, who pledged his life to service to God and others, put or let others be put at risk for abuse. That delay needs more of an explanation than he felt a sense of loyalty and the Bishop was charming! Come on!

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Joan ---- Your response has a name: "blaming the victim".

Fr Rossi explains the delay. 1) The power dynamics in the Church. 2) mental illness which resulted from the abuse irself AND the trap created by the power dynamics and abuses in the church; 3) 15 years NOT in ministry

Rory Connor
4 months 2 weeks ago

"Blaming the victim" does not explain why people doubt certain allegations of sex abuse directed against Catholic bishops. I have a separate comment regarding the situation in Ireland where (among other things) four Archbishops were subjected to false accusations. There are only four Archdioceses in Ireland and after the THIRD was accused, I used to joke that the Archbishop of Tuam was obviously next on our anti-clerics hit list! OBVIOUSLY I was correct!

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Rory, I did not read Joan's response as an indicator that she doubts this priest's allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.

I think she is criticizing this victim for not having responded to the abuse the way she thinks (and understandably wishes) he had responded.

She seems to misunderstand both the context and meaning of the priest's observation that McCarrick was charming.

He was describing McCarrick's personal characteristics which increased the success of his grooming and sexual hassassment of seminarians and young priest's.

She overlooked the power dynamics McCarrick exploited and many of which the priest identifies in this article.

The combined force of McCarrick's charming social skills AND his power AND his cagey manipulations would give any thinking person pause as to whether anyone would choose to listen to an underling's profoundly serious allegations about that charming, powerful leader.

Criticizing a victim for not meeting others' expectations about how a victim should behave is, indeed, the very essence of blaming the victim.

Rory Connor
4 months 2 weeks ago

OK. We begin with different attitudes and experiences. I have some experience of these kind of allegations in Ireland and UK and have got very cynical. In the UK, CLASS hatred is a bigger issue than (our Irish) anti-Clericalism. See Wikipedia article on "Operation Midland" where victims of lunatic claims included - and I quote - "the former home secretary Leon Brittan, the former prime minister Edward Heath, the former chief of defence staff Lord Bramall, the former director of the Secret Intelligence Service Maurice Oldfield, and Michael Hanley, the former Director-General of MI5".

The only victim who never achieved Ministerial rank (or similar) was a Tory MP who had to resign 20 years before as result of a GENUINE sex scandal; thus he was a "celebrity" of sorts and became a target! ALL targets of "Operation Midland" in the UK were well-known conservative members of the Establishment. There are too many parallels with Ireland and the USA I believe.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Midland

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Rory,

of course there will be false allegations and lives are damaged by them.

That is why credible investigations are essential before everybody and dogs named Joe start attacking.

McCarrick has victims who have already been paid off by the RCC. This priest's allegations are factually similar. This priest went public from the altar, risking losing everything.

There is no acceptable or credible justification for attacking this priest, for blaming him for McCarrick's abuse of others (as joan did) or for blaming or maligning him or attacking his masculinity or his couagege (as the male commenter below did) or for having been impacted negatively by McCarrick's harassment.

That is all classic victim-blaming and it is well understood as part of the pressure that silences existing and future victims of this and other perpetrators. And perpetrators KNOW this and they COUNT on this

Vincent Gaglione
4 months 2 weeks ago

Sometimes the harsh details are more information than we need. While I empathize with and regret Father Rossi’s experiences, in some ways the bald details produce a backlash of attitudes that distorts the overall perception of clergy and the Church.

He indeed lends further credence to the already publicized behaviors of Cardinal McCarrick. He describes how grooming for abuse occurs. That so many comments here are shocked and outraged by what they read makes me wonder how ignorant or dismissive that they have heretofore been regarding these issues in secular life which have been publicized and published for years.

Christopher Lochner
4 months 2 weeks ago

But which Church, the church of hierarchy or the Church as people of God? There are many good people in the clergy but if we didn't allow these problems to continue so long how very many more would we have gained?

John Chuchman
4 months 2 weeks ago

And yet his Irish/American compatriot in Rome denies any knowledge. Good ole boys look after each other.

Victoria Bako
4 months 2 weeks ago

God bless you, Fr. Rossi. I know this isn't easy for you, but I hope more will come out and talk about their abuse so this madness comes to an end and justice is done. These abusers are very, very charming. Never underestimate the charm of a predator. They have to win you over to get close enough to hurt you.

Frank Gibbons
4 months 2 weeks ago

48 seminarians from Tegucigalpa’s major seminary have written a letter protesting the large scale existance of homosexual behavior within the seminary. The letter is unsigned because of fear of reprisals. Many are considering leaving the seminary. True to form, Cardinal Maradiaga accused these young men of being "gossipers".

The news of the seminarians’ protest came after months of allegations involving homosexual abuse and financial misconduct by Bishop Pineda.

Since last December, Cardinal Maradiaga has been accused of allowing Bishop Pineda to continue to serve in his post, and even placing him in charge of the archdiocese during the cardinal’s absence to receive medical treatments for prostate cancer in Houston, despite a body of allegations against Bishop Pineda of homosexual relationships — including with seminarians." National Catholic Register 7/25/18.

Cardinal Maradiagra is one of Pope Francis' closest advisors.

The corruption is ubiquitous. But the hedge is down. I have never criticized Pope Francis but he needs to enter a period deep reflection and reconsider some of the appointments he's made and the advisors whom he surrounds himself with.

Robert Lewis
4 months 2 weeks ago

In one of his columns today, Rod Dreher refers to this article in America.
Over at his columns, the McCarrick scandal has elicited fever-pitch levels of homophobia in this pundit, who left the Church over a decade ago because of the pedophile abuse:
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/adios-buenos-hombres-me-t…

What Dreher and his cohorts—who properly belong to the religious culture of puritanical Evangelicalism, not that of traditional Catholicism—are most determined should not happen is a determination that this miserable affair arose because of the secrecy and abuse of power utilized by the monstrous cardinal, rather than because of the acceptance into holy orders of same-sex-attracted priest-candidates.
They specifically don’t want Catholics to conclude that honestly self-affirming same-sex-attracted seminarians who publicly embrace their “cross” are capable of observing vows of chastity and celibacy. Dreher says it bluntly:

“…You watch: this is going to be the progressives’ stand going forward: the real lesson of the Cardinal McCarrick scandal is that the Church has to allow gay priests to be out and proud and affirmed…
* * * * * * * *
…There can be no doubt that Team Mickens is right about how the culture of secrecy, denial, and clericalism facilitates this problem. But there can also be no doubt that his preferred solution would do nothing to arrest the sexual corruption within the clergy, and the hemorrhaging of the Catholic Church’s spiritual and moral authority…[He wants us Catholics to believe that there is “sexual corruption” within the WHOLE of our clergy.]
* * * * * * *
The media averted its eyes back then. It’s going to do the same thing now, if it can — and if it can’t, it’s going to take the Robert Mickens line: that the real problem is homophobia. Don’t you believe it. Don’t you believe it for a second.”

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/gay-priests-catholic-elep…

The frenzy of gay-bashing that Dreher is able to work himself into—by repeating every single shameful detail of the priest scandals that he can load onto his column at The American Conservative—is amply illustrated by his flaming of the ordination of a German seminarian:

‘A service in Germany celebrating a Catholic priest’s recent ordination featured a homoerotic dance.
‘The newly ordained Fr. Fabian Ploneczka, 33, of the Rottenburg-Stuttgart diocese, celebrated his first Mass on Sunday, July 15 at his home church of St. Moritz in Augsburg. The Mass was preceded by three evening services, dubbed a “Triduum,” in the church, focusing on subjects of interest to the new priest. The events included a Saturday evening service dedicated to the theme of eroticism in the Christian faith.
According to the Augsburger Allgemeine, the worship service included the premiere of a ballet entitled “Jeremiah: Passion of the Prophet”, featuring ballet dancer Clemens Fröhlich of Munich and a narrated libretto written by Ploneczka himself. Observers told the German “Katholische Nachrichten”(kath.net) news site that the dancer performed dressed only in tight, skin-coloured underpants.
“The whole church became a dance floor, even the altar area,” kath.net reported. “There the dancer took the Gospel in his hand, stepped almost naked to the ambo, and lolled suggestively in front of the altar.”

Afterwards Fr. Thomas Steiger of Tübingen, a pastor and radio personality, gave a talk on the “eroticism of the faith,” speaking of “a sensual love for Jesus.”’

Dreher avers that even if this priest is able to live a life of “pristine chastity,’ his ministry is “able to do real damage to the integrity of Catholic faith and witness.” I wonder if Dreher thinks that “the sensual love for Jesus” displayed by Michelangelo Buonarotti’s works or the poetry of John of the Cross and Teresa of Jesus did “real damage to the integrity of Catholic faith and witness.”

Rod Dreher cannot conceal his unbalanced anger and hostility toward the Catholic faith and its institutions. The solutions he favors would drive the Church deeper into Christian fundamentalist reaction against science and the modern world. He understands little of the teleological genius of orthodox Catholic theology, which does and always has “developed” its moral theology, as prompted by a “Holy Ghost” toward better and better understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Catholics should beware of following his prescription for retreat into a narrow sect.

Frank Gibbons
4 months 2 weeks ago

Robert,
The reality is this - The Hedge is Down. All the Kings horses and all the Kings men can't spin was has been revealed. The people want holy priests and bishops who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Robert Lewis
4 months 2 weeks ago

Of course we do, but the chastity of the "same-sex-attracted" is just as holy as that of heterosexual folks.

Frank Gibbons
4 months 2 weeks ago

There's a lot more that goes into being holy than remaining chaste. A priest must be a man of prayer and have a love for the Scriptures. His holiness should be evident by manifesting the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in his life -- peace, love, joy, kindness, gentleness, patience, generosity, goodness, faithfulness, modesty, chastity and self-control. He should not be a respecter of persons but show a preferential love for the marginalized (and that includes the unborn). Lastly, He must know the Risen Lord in a personal way so that he can share the Lord's love to his flock.

justinreany@gmail.com
4 months 2 weeks ago

I have asked repeatedly: Where is the courage of young men today?!?! The moment that this homosexual pervert touched any of these young men, he should have had a broken jaw! That's how you deal with these pervs in the clergy! Beat the living sense out them and expose it. I can tell you if any cleric did this to me when I qas in discernment or my sons he would have to flee in hiding because of what I would do to him. Two things have perpetuated this crisis: (1) evil men covering for each other in the hierarchy; (2) lack of testicular fortitude amongst men. Period.

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Justin --- your response has a name: "blaming the victim" . It is one of the reasons victims remain silent. If they disclose their abuse, someone (you and Joan, above, in this case) will be dissatisfied with some aspect of the disclosure and will attack them for THAT.

You and Joan just contributed to another victim's decision to remain silent.

Michael Eberl
4 months 2 weeks ago

self edited

Andrew Di Liddo
4 months 2 weeks ago

As I read through the article, the red flag that went off in my head was: "He made me feel special".... my immediate reaction to that was RUN! FLEE! That is always a hook and snare of the devil in my experience. I am wary of anyone who does that maneuver on me.

James B
4 months 2 weeks ago

Sad. And I doubt there will be substantial changes or reform because of the McCarrick scandal.

The USCCB will probably do a penance service and write a policy, but nothing else.

Pope Francis might withdraw McCarrick’s red hat to the acclaim of his groupies, or place a phone call to a carefully selected McCarrick victim to cry and apologize over the phone.

But again, I doubt there will be any real changes or reform.

Rory Connor
4 months 2 weeks ago

I have a blog essay entitled "Eight Falsely Accused Bishops (and Archbishops) in Ireland". All four of our Archbishops were the subject of false abuse-related claims and the other four "ordinary" bishops were VERY prominent. No obscure Irish bishops were accused! Is this American case for real?
https://irishsalem.blogspot.com/2018/07/seven-falsely-accused-bishops-a…

Of the eight prelates accused, most were conservative but I would classify two as "liberal". However none of the false allegations came from Irish conservatives. The first one in 1994 involved The Guardian newspaper in the UK claiming that an unnamed Irish bishop was a member of a paedophile ring. They thought they could avoid a libel suit by not naming him but they gave enough details to expose themselves to a class libel suit from the Conference of Bishops and had to apologise.

Beth Cioffoletti
4 months 2 weeks ago

As a church we need elders who are able to speak wisely to the sexual dimension of the spiritual quest and show us how to honor and respect it.

From childhood, I have been drawn toward “spiritual” things. I liked sitting in darkened churches. I liked reading about those who followed a life devoted to God - Merton, especially. I imagine that many seminarians have these same tendencies.

Finding a true spiritual guide within the Catholic Church nowadays is near impossible. Most priests interpret a close relationship as “sexual” when what is needed is close listening, honest feedback on where the traps are, and genuine respect. They have to be able to both forget themselves and totally invest themselves.

I left most of my attempts to talk to a priest feeling confused and somehow shamed.

I was finally blessed with a humble priest who also became a very good friend. The main difference being that we were equals in the relationship. Like a brother and a sister.

My experience leaves me to surmise that the problem with Catholic clerics is one of power and arrogance, without adequate self knowledge of their own traps. Catholics wanting to go deeper than the usual company line in their faith are largely on their own.

Francis models the humility that is needed for priests to become true shepherds able to serve their flock rather than confuse and harm them.

Florence Sundberg
4 months 2 weeks ago

July 27th: Sorry but this Priest seems like an immature adolescent. He says others threw him down and molested him... I have brothers and male cousins and friends - none of them would ever have allowed another male to seduce them or engage in any kind of sexual behavior with them. This Priest did not report those who allegedly molested him because he did not want to harm their 'careers' - what hogwash!!! He needs to man up and admit that he is part of the problem. How did McCarrick get adult males to allow him to engage in sexual activity with them? I don't care how much power or influence McCarrick had ... again, no male in my family or among my friends and colleagues would have permitted this for any reason...

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Florence --

Perpetrators like Cardinal McCarrick are 100% aware that people (even women!) will attack, malign, humiliate, verbally abuse, shun, reject and otherwise participate in destroying the lives of victims (especially men!) if they dare to tell anyone.

Perpetrators COUNT on people like you behaving exactly as you have here.

You just made YOURSELF part of McCarrick's harassment of innocent men who just wanted to serve God and YOU.

And I would put money on it that you just silenced another victim, either one harassed and abused in the past or someone just being victimized as I write.

THIS IS HOW ABUSE OF POWER WORKS. Other people volunteer, as you have here, to ensure the silence of victims by publicly attacking and humiliating any victim who comes forward.

People who speak as you have here today are part of the problem. The priest is a victim of McCarrick and, now you, Florence

And I would money on it that this innocent, dedicated priest will forgive you. Cardinal McCarrick created the opportunity for you to behave in such an ugly way.

And, no, I do not know this priest. The depth of his faith, the sincerity of his vocation, the test of his strength and courage as a man and the depth of his love of the people of God (even those who would act in the ugly way you have here) --- his love of God and his determination to respond to God's call that he serve God and all God's creation --- all of that is made manifest in his return to seminary, his return to the priesthood, his return to ministry.

Next time I am on the east coast, I will seek out this priest and the opportunity to participate in Eucharist with him. THIS priest, this brave man, has been tested and he survived, faith intact. God bless him.

Dolores Pap
4 months 2 weeks ago

You are so right! My friend's brother was molested by the local parish priest in a neighboring town- he was too was scared to tell his parents because he felt that nobody would believe him..That priest was finally sued by 21(!!) of his other victims, but sadly, one of the men was so emotionally damaged that he killed himself.
Thank you for speaking out for these innocent victims..

Rory Connor
4 months 2 weeks ago

My original Comment was in wrong place

Rory Connor
4 months 2 weeks ago

Reply to Florence Sundberg. Florence: That is the first thing that occurred to me when I read the article [Immaturity] but the point is so unfashionable nowadays that I kind of forgot about it and concentrated on a different - although not unrelated - issue. I also find the following comment surprising:
“I hope that this gets cleaned up,” Father Rossi said. “I hope we’re starting now to be honest.”

What does he expect except a CONTINUATION of an unrelenting media assault on the Catholic Church, that has been underway for the best part of two decades now? Nothing is "starting"!!

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Rory, I am not aware of any context in which it is unfashionable to refer to immaturity as immaturity.

Rory, please help me understand you.

Are you saying that this priest is responsible for public awareness of former Cardinal McCarrick's abusive and harassing behavior? Are you further suggesting that that makes this priest culpable for the negative press about former Cardinal McCarrick's abusive and haraassing behavior? Are you further blaming this priest for the harm to the RCC caused by the former Cardinal's abusive and harassing behavior?

Rory Connor
4 months 1 week ago

You are not aware of any context in which it is unfashionable to refer to immaturity as immaturity? What about when someone suggests that an (alleged) victim of sexual assault should not have drunk herself into a stupor in the company of a man she barely knew - or alternatively that she should not have agreed to go home with a man she first met in a night-club a couple of hours before? A well known Irish radio broadcaster very nearly lost his job for saying something like that. One feminist critic informed him that "Victim-blaming is all too familiar to women in Ireland. George is giving the message that men can do what they want and it is the drunken woman who is to blame. Women have the right to be drunk. They have the right to say no. They have the right to walk down the street naked if they wish..." This lady was advocating behaviour that is both criminal and stupid. A woman who walks down the street drunk and naked would be lucky to be arrested before she is assaulted! However I may have been the only one to say that - certainly no-one in the mainstream media did so. It is becoming dangerous for men to give pragmatic advise to women that they should avoid dangerous situations because the man can be accused of "victim-blaming" and may even be fired!
http://irishsalem.blogspot.com/2017/09/fiona-doyle-and-george-hook.html

As to your related question - the then 25 year old priest should have behaved like an adult at the time. Since he did not, he should not now be making his allegations in the middle of a hysterical media attack on the Catholic Church. A Jew may have a valid complaint about his Rabbi but he should not air it in the middle of an anti-Semitic pogrom because what then occurs will NOT be "healing"!

Fr. Des Rossi
4 months 2 weeks ago

Rory, this is Fr Des Rossi. There are many feelings and many concerns out there in response to the behavior of Archbishop McCarrick. I was a 25 year old kid when this all happened to me. I have come forward as part of the healing process, to assist our Church going forward to learn the lessons here and "right the ship." I want to remind others that I spoke with the journalist who published the article for a few hours, so it's important to remember that not everything I said was included in the article. I want to Thank Michael O'Loughlin for a job well done. Peace!

Rory Connor
4 months 1 week ago

Father Rossi. Sorry for delay in replying. I was a 16 year adolescent - and immature for my age - when I had my first summer job and my first time away from home. I was working in a hotel and actually didn't make a great success of it. However when a drunken hotel guest made a sexual suggestion when I had brought him and his luggage to a room, I handled it quite well. I was extremely startled but recognised I was in no danger and politely said no. I informed my immediate boss because I thought I should, but he just raised his eyes to the skies and did nothing as far as I know. I didn't expect anything different as the most junior member of staff had less status than a paying guest. I have never blamed it or ANY other single episode for damaging me. I did make a couple of serious mistakes in my life which cannot now be repaired (I am 68) but I don't agonise over them and especially I don't blame others - even though these errors were not entirely my own doing. (Also other people suffered because of what I did!).

There is no "healing process" going on in the Catholic Church at the moment certainly not in Ireland and not in America either I'm sure. Nothing is "starting" either - just relentless thuggish abuse from journalists whose anti-clerical hatred is the "liberal" equivalent of the anti-Semitic variety. (In Ireland this LITERALLY includes Blood Libels that are directed against Catholics instead of Jews - one of them coming from a politician who later became Minister for Justice! ). Your narrative just feeds into this and I cannot understand how it is supposed to "right the ship".
http://irishsalem.blogspot.com/2018/06/blood-libel-in-ireland-directed-…

Rory Connor
4 months 2 weeks ago

X

Carlos Orozco
4 months 2 weeks ago

Gay culture in the Seminaries. Not a new phenomenon. I remember a papal commission during the pontificate of Benedict XVI reporting of such an infestation. What steps have been taken to erradicate it? One Marcial Maciel is one too many.

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Carlis, your use of the word "infestation" to describe the presence of human beings in an institution is both repugnant and it reveals your bigotry.

Carlos Orozco
4 months 2 weeks ago

J,
Please don't try to bend my comment: human beings are not an infestation. I stand by the term to designate the presence of a destructive CULTURE that directly contradicts 2,000 years of Church teachings. I am not willing to close my eyes and ears to the consequences of relativizing the toxic effects of such culture.

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Thanks for the clarification. I still would encourage you not to use the word in this context.

Fr. Des Rossi
4 months 2 weeks ago

First of all, I want to thank the hundreds of people who have reached out to me on email, phone, cards, letters and on the street. Your support not only strengthens me but it also strengthens us all. Please be charitable with one another. Listen to one another. Try to heal one another. Don't let the the divisive spirit of the evil one win. Christ calls us to bear up with one another. As for ones who are andgry, I am angry also. As for the ones who weep, I have wept, too. As for the ones who feel ashamed, believe me, I have been there. I was in exile in the wilderness for many years wondering where my God was and felt abandoned. But today, I realize he was strengthening me for the future that would unfold. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. Bless us and your Church. Assist us in doing good and avoiding evil, so that your kingdom may be made manifest among us all. Love & Peace, Fr. Des Rossi

J Brookbank
4 months 2 weeks ago

Fr Des Rossi, you are indeed a minister to and for the people of God. I am profoundly grateful for your courage and willingness to be healed and to heal. I will take your message to prayer and be mindful of your example. I wish iived in Albany so I could be part of your parish and participate in the mystery of the Christian experience with you and grow in my own journey. You are the real deal. Welcome home, brother Des Rossi. You are needed.

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