(Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part editorial)
After the 2002 “Long Lent” sex abuse scandals throughout the Catholic Church in America, those of us who remained in the pews believed the American hierarchy of cardinals and bishops would restore and reinvigorate the church.
Who knew what erupted 16 years ago was just one of many elephants in the sacristy, and America’s highest-ranked prelate, who responded to that outrage — Cardinal Theodore McCarrick — was himself a serial, homosexual predator?
Here’s McCarrick, leading the church through the essential soul-searching, atonement and problem solving, who was unable to come to terms with his own predatory behavior. McCarrick’s lifestyle has been described by many familiar with him both inside and outside the church as “an open secret.”
How was McCarrick allowed to go on molesting when many in the Church hierarchy knew what was going on? Why was such a depraved individual ordained in the first place, let alone allowed to rise through the hierarchy?
What was anything but secret was the 18-month grand jury investigation into sexual abuse spanning a 70-year period in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses: Erie, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, Allentown and Greensburg. The recently released 884-page report claims to have more than 1,000 victims, a figure which, according to the investigation, could be much larger. The report implies that Church authorities covered up accusations in order to avoid the scandal they now have.
Apparently, 301 priests were tangled in a web of deceit and betrayal as sexual predators is not only mind numbing in scope, but disheartening in spirit, with one-third coming from the Pittsburgh diocese. Harrisburg’s diocese, which serves 1.7 million faithful, lists 71.
The details were egregious, sordid and nothing short of diabolical. Men of God, who these victims trusted, not only did nothing, they covered it up. In nearly every case, the statute of limitations has run out.
Amid such dishonor with others similar in scope occurring in Honduras and Chile, Pope Francis went political and changed the teaching of the Church on capital punishment that has always been a political football. Contrast that with deposition after deposition of abominable crimes alleged to have been committed within the Church only underscores if there ever was an argument for capital punishment, this is it.
When a pope politicizes Church dogma, he betrays the teaching of Christ and the longstanding Magisterium of the Church.
If the doctrine on capital punishment can change, why not on homosexuality, or abortion for that matter?
Pope Francis will treat this crisis just as he did with the Dubia. Ignore it until it fades away. This, however, is going nowhere. The practice of covering for homosexual predators is not unique to Pennsylvania. These investigations are the tip of the steeple with New York, Missouri and Nebraska announcing that their attorneys general are considering investigating, too.
The problem is not pedophilia, like it was broadcast in 2002, when a few were to blame. Rather, it’s homosexuality, but you won’t hear that from the mainstream media who disingenuously refuses to admit what the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) actually acknowledged in their 2004 John Jay report on what occurred 16 years ago.
Since then, the American Catholic episcopate has defiantly retreated and refuses to implicate gay priests or their bishops with Cardinal Blasé Cupich of Chicago blaming the abuse on “clericalism.” Homosexual assault is now labeled clericalism? Considering Cupich, he next may argue how abortion is akin to “family planning.”
Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., is another named in the report because, as bishop of Pittsburgh, Wuerl allegedly protected and transferred abusing priests while concealing information from law enforcement, and is on record calling the tragedy “no massive crisis.”
This homosexual priest culture that hijacked the clergy and the Church’s hierarchy has metastasized over time. The priesthood is not a gay vocation; it is anything but. As hideous as sexual abuse and homosexual acts are, McCarrick and those allied with him have committed the definitive cardinal sin — disgraced and paraded God’s holy and scared priesthood through the profane before an agnostic and secular culture to be derided, dismissed and ridiculed.
McCarrick and his ilk are responsible, not only for their sexual abuses, but also for chasing noble and virtuous men away from the priesthood that has been in a perennial shortage for at least a generation. Carrying a heavy cross are the dedicated and holy priests who remain steadfast that have been intimidated, bullied and threatened by a contemptible and tainted hierarchy.
The work of Satan is in full swing as the Church’s enemies want the public to turn against the Church and its priests. This gay, or “lavender mafia,” as it has been so named, is an everyday scourge on the backs of many good and dedicated priests who suffer through a daily dose of white martyrdom with the stress and stares of contempt from an incredulous and agnostically increasing world. McCarrick and company have bound the Church to a pillar to be mocked, spat upon and degraded just as Jesus was.
It is those faithful priests, working understaffed throughout God’s worldly vineyard, who truly need our prayers and support in order to assist them with the grace and strength to fight against this evil. Those of us still in the pews must not allow the aftershocks of the present crisis to deter us from doing so, because that is exactly what Satan desires.
(Maresca, a local freelance writer, composes “Talking Points” for each Sunday edition.)