The other shoe has fallen for Cardinal McCarrick and he has been forced to resign from the College of Cardinals. That the resignation took this long is itself another scandal. But, to make the situation perfectly clear — McCarrick’s resignation is not the ending; it marks the beginning of a painful period of self-examination by the bishops of their own role in keeping McCarrick’s secret.
The laity should have an active role in the process of finding out what was ‘common knowledge’ to so many in the Church and the media that never impeded McCarrick’s rise to prominence as Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
Readers probably already know the sordid details of his demise, but what makes those details so startling is that McCarrick took the leading position during 2002 in drafting a new sexual abuse policy for the bishops.
Yes, the man who was chosen to formulate the official response to the abuse scandal, himself was an abuser. If that suggests to you there’s corruption in our Church, you are not alone. No doubt many, if not most, of the bishops who convened in the 2002 Dallas meeting knew that McCarrick had abused seminarians and young priests.
Yet, the bishops sat there and said nothing while McCarrick held court on how to put an end to sexual abuse in the priesthood. The 2002 meeting, far from instigating much-needed healing in the Church, allowed the process to become a mockery of what was called for — true confession and repentance.
The bishops’ hypocrisy in allowing McCarrick to play such an important was bound to be made known. The revelation has brought the Catholic laity to a tipping point. Catholic commentators, like Marjorie Murphy Campbell in the pages of TCR and EWTN’s ‘The World Over’ with Raymond Arroyo, have made it clear that nothing less than total transparency from the bishops will be tolerated.
“Uncle Ted,” as McCarrick is called, made sure the abuse problem in the Episcopacy itself was not addressed. For his entire active career, “Uncle Ted” put his friends in leadership position throughout the Church’s institutions — friends who obviously repaid him with their silence.
Justice for the abuse victims meant nothing to those bishops who kept quiet during and after the 2002 Dallas meeting. Not only did they deny them justice but also the much-needed pastoral care to tend the wounds inflicted by a powerful bishop upon his vulnerable charges.
Bishop Michael F. Olson of Ft. Worth released a letter “Regarding Former Cardinal McCarrick and the Protection of Minors and the Vulnerable” today to his diocese containing the following: “Justice also requires that all of those in Church leadership who knew of the former Cardinal’s alleged crimes and sexual misconduct and did nothing be held accountable for their refusal to act thereby enabling others to be hurt.” That’s called leadership!
Pope Francis himself should convene a special Ad Limina visit of all the American Bishops and investigate how this could happen. The Holy Father should begin by asking each individual bishop, “What did you know about McCarrick and when did you know it.” I’m not holding my breath for this to happen because from all accounts McCarrick was one of the “floor managers” who was “whipping the vote” for then-Cardinal Bergoglio. In a speech at Villanova University in 2015, he publicly admitted plotting to elect Bergoglio at the 2013 Conclave of Cardinals.
It seems everyone benefited from McCarrick’s hold on the American Church, even at its summit.
Remember that it was McCarrick who threw the ‘Catholic’ John Kerry a life preserver in the 2004 election by saying he would give Communion to Kerry after Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Kerry should be denied Communion because of his pro-abortion stance. In this stunning betrayal of the unborn, McCarrick showed how deeply he had become ensconced in, and subservient to, the Washington political establishment.
Marjorie Murphy Campbell, however, is surely correct — Only a lay-lead commission with full investigatory powers has any chance of cleaning up the mess and reestablishing trust between the laity and their bishops. Going back to back the 2002 report will get us nowhere since we now see it was done in bad faith.
It’s time for the laity to act. If the habits of the past prevail, the attention of the bishops will only be gained by diminishing collections. It’s time to reaffirm Catholic media outlets like Ave Maria Radio, EWTN, and LifeSiteNews, among others, that speak with the voice of orthodox and honest Catholicism.
It is only through outlets such as these that the laity will be empowered to commence the investigation. Meanwhile, pray for Cardinal McCarrick, his victims, the bishops, and all the Church as we pass through this time of suffering and testing.