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Cardinal Tobin . . . Denies Knowledge Of “Gay Subculture” In Newark

August 28, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

(Wanderer Editor’s Note: The article that follows is a combination of two articles from Catholic News Agency. The first part, dated August 20, wasn’t bylined. The second part, beginning below with the bold subhead “New Allegations,” carried Ed Condon’s byline and was dated August 17. The second part we shortened from the original, due to space limitations. The full text of that article by Ed Condon is available at www.catholicnewsagency.com. Its title is “New Allegations Surface Regarding Archbishop McCarrick and Newark Priests.”)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CNA) — In an August 17 letter to the priests of Newark, Joseph Cardinal Tobin has said he has not been told by priests about a “gay subculture” in the Archdiocese of Newark.
The letter was written in response to a Catholic News Agency report published the same day, in which Newark priests described their experience in seminary and ministry in the archdiocese. Tobin’s letter specifically addressed allegations, included in CNA’s report, of sexual misconduct on the part of two priests.
CNA’s article included testimony about homosexual activity in the Archdiocese of Newark, from six priests who spoke to CNA on the condition of anonymity. The priests’ experience spanned across several decades under the leadership of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and Archbishop John J. Myers.
CNA reported that, in 2014, Fr. Mark O’Malley was — according to multiple sources — removed from his position as rector of the archdiocesan college seminary, and placed on medical leave following an incident in which he was accused of hiding a camera in the bedroom of a young priest.
Cardinal Tobin’s letter, which surfaced on the Internet over the past weekend, addressed the matter directly.
“In April 2014, Fr. Mark O’Malley, who was serving at St. Andrew’s College, experienced a serious personal crisis for which he received a psychological evaluation and subsequent therapy. In April 2015, he was deemed fit for priestly ministry. He hopes to serve as a hospital chaplain.”
CNA also reported last week that Fr. James Weiner, currently pastor of the Parish of St. Andrew’s in Westwood, N.J., was under renewed investigation by archdiocesan authorities. Weiner was identified as the previously unnamed man referred to in the allegations of sexual assault made by Fr. Desmond Rossi, now a priest of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y.
Rossi has alleged that, in 1988, he was sexually assaulted by two transitional deacons. In 2004, Rossi received an out-of-court settlement of approximately $35,000.
Recently, Rossi said that his allegation was found “credible” by an archdiocesan review board but that no action was taken.
Tobin’s letter confirmed that Weiner’s case had been examined by a review board in 2003 “even though it did not involve an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.” The cardinal also confirmed that he had ordered the matter reopened earlier this month because of “new information and out of an abundance of caution in these most difficult times.”
This past weekend, the bulletin at Fr. Weiner’s parish carried a notice that Cardinal Tobin’s office had indefinitely delayed the ceremony formally installing Weiner as pastor of the parish because of a scheduling conflict. Tobin had been scheduled to install Weiner in the post on September 15.
Addressing reports of harassment and active sexual behavior by some priests, both in the seminary and in the archdiocesan presbyterate, Cardinal Tobin said that “no one — including the anonymous ‘sources’ cited in the article — has ever spoken to me about a gay subculture in the Archdiocese of Newark.”
Tobin began his letter by acknowledging the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse in the Church, following the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick and the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report. The cardinal said that these events “have shaken and saddened the bishops and priests of the Archdiocese of Newark.”
Turning to the CNA report, Tobin said that while there was “much more to communicate about these open wounds,” he was writing the letter in response to “allegations of misconduct” against the two priests of the archdiocese, Weiner and O’Malley.
The cardinal closed his letter by expressing his hope that CNA’s sources were not actually priests of the archdiocese. However, CNA confirms that the sources for the story were priests of the Newark Archdiocese, along with one priest member of a religious order.
The Archdiocese of Newark declined to offer comment or respond to questions from CNA regarding the letter.
Tobin’s letter concluded by encouraging priests to refer media inquiries to the archdiocesan director of communications.
Added Cardinal Tobin, “I repeat my willingness to meet with any brother who wishes to share his concerns regarding allegations in the press or personal experience in our local Church.”

New Allegations

Recent allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick include reports that he made sexual advances toward seminarians during his tenure as bishop of Metuchen and archbishop of Newark.
Catholic News Agency recently spoke to six priests of the Archdiocese of Newark, and one priest member of a religious order who was a seminarian in New York in the early 1970s, while McCarrick was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
Citing archdiocesan policy and concerns about ecclesiastical repercussions for their candor, the priests agreed to speak to CNA only under the condition of anonymity. The priests spoke individually to CNA, and their accounts were compared for confirmation.
The religious priest who spoke to CNA said when he studied in a seminary in New York, McCarrick, who was then an aide to Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York, would sometimes visit the seminary. The priest said that McCarrick’s reputation was already well established by this time.
“The dean of our theology school was a classmate at CUA with McCarrick, and he knew about the rumors,” the priest told CNA, “he spoke about them with the other faculty and theologians very openly.”
So well-known was McCarrick’s reputation, the priest said, that when McCarrick would accompany Cooke to visit the seminary there was a standing joke that they had to “hide the handsome ones” before he arrived.
The same reputation reportedly followed the archbishop years later, when he served from 1986-2000 as archbishop of Newark. One priest of the Archdiocese of Newark told CNA it was an uncomfortable experience when McCarrick came to visit the seminary.
The priest said that McCarrick would often place his hand on seminarians while talking with them, or on their thighs while seated near them.
“It was really unnerving. On the one hand you knew — knew — what was going on but you couldn’t believe it.”
Several other priests from Newark spoke to CNA about similar experiences.
One priest worked in close proximity to the archbishop in the archdiocesan chancery for a number of years. “There were the ‘nephews,’ for sure,” he said. “He had a type: tall, slim, intelligent — but no smokers.”
The priest told CNA that, in addition to trips to a house on the shore, McCarrick would invite young men to stay the night in the cathedral rectory in central Newark.
“Priests would tell me ‘he’s sleeping with them’ all the time, but I couldn’t believe it — they seemed like perfectly normal guys,” the priest said.
Another priest, a former priest secretary to McCarrick, told CNA that McCarrick frequently ordained classes of priests among the largest in the country, and that the archbishop prided himself on recruiting young men from the diocese to enter the seminary.
But many in the archdiocese say that the high numbers of Ordinations came at a cost. One priest said that some graduating classes from the middle 1990s have seen nearly half of their members leave ministry, and concerns have been raised about the behavior of some of those who remain in ministry.
In recent years, several priests said, Fr. James Weiner is known for hosting cocktail parties in his rectory, which other homosexual priests of the archdiocese are known to attend.
Three Newark priests independently gave Catholic News Agency nearly identical accounts of being invited to these parties when they were newly ordained.
One recalled that he attended a cocktail party, thinking he had been invited to a simple priests’ dinner. “I was led into the room to a chorus of wolf-whistles,” he said. “It was clear right away I was ‘on display’.”
The archdiocese declined to answer questions related to those parties.
All three priests told CNA that while the experience was deeply unpleasant, they had seen similar behavior in Newark’s seminary.
Seminarians and priests from Ordination classes spanning 30 years, during the terms of McCarrick and Myers, reported to CNA that they had observed an active homosexual subculture of priest and seminarians within Newark’s Immaculate Conception Seminary.
All six Newark priests CNA spoke to expressed hope that the sexual abuse scandals now embroiling the Church will lead to change. Several stressed that reforms of the seminary had already begun by the end of Myers’ term in office, and that a recent succession of diocesan vocations directors had imposed newly rigorous standards on prospective seminary candidates.
One priest said that expectations of change were raised during the brief tenure of Archbishop Bernard Hebda, appointed in 2013 to be Myers’ coadjutor archbishop, his successor-in-waiting.
Hebda chose to live in a dormitory at Seton Hall University and was a frequent sight around the archdiocesan seminaries. He was also reported to make unannounced visits to parishes, suddenly knocking at the back doors of rectories or sliding in to a back pew at Sunday Mass.
In 2015, before Hebda could become Newark’s archbishop, he was asked to serve as apostolic administrator of St. Paul-Minneapolis, in the wake of Archbishop John Nienstedt’s resignation. Hebda was appointed Nienstedt’s permanent replacement in 2016.
“He wasn’t kidding around. You could tell he wanted to know everything, who was who and what was what — and who was into what,” one pastor who received a surprise visit from Hebda told CNA.
Newark priests told CNA that they are still waiting to see what changes Joseph Cardinal Tobin, who became archbishop of Newark in 2017, will bring to the archdiocese. Sources in the Newark chancery describe the cardinal as reserved, eager to listen to suggestions and proposals, but unwilling to be drawn into making decisions quickly.
Meanwhile, in parishes the priests of Newark wait to see, wondering if the current crises might bring about change.
“You hope that at some point the cardinal will act, that there will be nothing left to lose by acting, but we will see.”

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