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“What The Hell Is Going On In The Catholic Church?”

June 25, 2022 Frontpage No Comments

By CHRISTOPHER MANION

In the fall of 2004, the local news here in Northern Virginia, reported that the pastor of St. John the Apostle in Leesburg had been arrested for the possession of child pornography.
To obtain the details of the charges, I made a routine call to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office in Loudoun County, where Leesburg serves as the county seat. I mentioned that I wrote for a Catholic newspaper, nothing more, a typical over-the-transom request, and left my callback number.
I expected that I’d eventually hear from the county’s press office in a couple of days.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, late that same afternoon, I got a call from the Commonwealth Attorney himself. He was irate. In fact, he was so mad that he had literally pulled over to the side of the road on his way home to call me.
“I’m a Catholic,” he said. “Would you please tell me what the Hell is going on in the Catholic Church?
We talked for 45 minutes. Not about the arrested pastor, but about the scandals, the Faith, and the mess that we were in.
And sure enough, St. John the Apostle was in a mess of its own.
Parishioners told me that the pastor routinely had his “boyfriends” as guests in the rectory on weekends. He would often allow those who were priests to preach the homily at Sunday Mass. He was apparently rather brazen about his loose liturgies, and the people in the pews was profoundly demoralized.
Just like the rest of us.

Pride? Yes. Progress?
Not So Much

This all came to mind as I read the recent letter of USCCB President José Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the USCCB’s June 2002 meeting in Dallas.
In his letter, Archbishop Gomez gushes with pride at the progress that engendered by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that the bishops adopted at that meeting.
“Today, millions of children and adults have been trained to spot the signs of abusive behavior, allegations of sexual abuse are reported to local law enforcement, background checks are the norm, review boards comprised of lay experts meet to assess allegations, and victim assistance coordinators are in place to assist survivors in finding help,” he writes.
That was it. That single slogging sentence says it all.
The Charter has worked, the archbishop beams — although in 2002 the Dallas bishops had immediately voted to exempt themselves from every single one of its stringent requirements.
But hey, so what? The Charter’s processes, procedures, policies, and protocols have been a tremendous success!
Every year, thousands of parish and chancery employees and volunteers across the country spend millions of man-hours checking the boxes on the reams of paper and data forms to prove their compliance.
Has everybody taken Virtus? Gee, I hope so — I’m sure it works really well, although the program’s boss in another state told me that even a practicing homosexual would be welcome to teach the class in my parish.
Has everybody had a background check? Yep, sure have — even though Gov. Frank Keating, head of the USCCB’s first Lay Review Board, pointed out that the checks are meaningless because the abusers had never been reported to the police.
When Keating, a former FBI agent, got too close to Los Angeles Cardinal Mahony’s criminal abuse coverups, Mahony had him vaporized.
He then went on to spend a cool billion of the faithful’s money dodging the law, and the rest of America’s bishops spent a few billion more.
When the facts caught up with Mahony, he moaned that he had merely followed the advice of “experts.”
And he’s still a cardinal, defying his successor’s order to cease public ministry in the archdiocese.

So It’s An “Ongoing
Struggle,” Is It?

When the bishops arrived in Dallas twenty years ago, the Dallas Morning News met them with an explosive exposé revealing that over half of them had covered up for, or even enabled, abusers of minors in their sees.
With the hindsight of twenty years, it’s safe to say that, if the guilty bishops had quietly gone home from Dallas that day and retired, with the criminals among them turning themselves in to law enforcement, the scandals would have ended long ago.
But Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, known today as “Uncle Ted the child abuser,” was in charge. In fact, many of the bishops attending that Dallas meeting owed their jobs to him.
One of them, Bishop Wilton Gregory, was president of the USCCB at the time. In April 2002 he had visited Rome to have a “conversation” with Pope John Paul II about the scandals (years after The Wanderer broke the abuse story, the secular media had finally caught up with it earlier that year, and Gregory was on the hot seat).
“It is an ongoing struggle to make sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men,” Gregory told the media during that visit.
Well, there was no way that was going to change in Dallas.
So, instead of retiring in silence or disgrace, the guilty prelates stayed on — not one of them quit.
But wait — the USCCB’s own legal research firm determined that over 80 percent of the sexual abuse of minors by clerics was “homosexual in nature”!
Didn’t the bishops do anything to remedy the domination of the priesthood by homosexual men?
No, they did not. They didn’t then, they haven’t since, and they won’t now.
Instead, President Wilton Gregory and his brother bishops conjured up a massive stonewall while their lawyers paid off their victims with billions of the faithful’s donations.

Unhappy Anniversaries

“So here I am, in the middle way,
having had twenty years —
twenty years largely wasted….”
T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets: East Coker

For American Catholics, June is indeed the cruelest month.
Four years ago this week, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick was removed from public ministry. He had been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.
After the Dallas debacle, McCarrick had continued to rule with an iron rod in Washington until 2006. By then, he had played a key role in naming dozens of American prelates.
Among them were his successor, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, now retired, and McCarrick’s housemate, Kevin Cardinal Farrell.
In 2019 Pope Francis named Farrell as “Camerlengo” — the office responsible for running the conclave that elects a new Pope.
Both Wuerl and Farrell continued McCarrick’s policy of naming homosexual-friendly prelates throughout the U.S. If we consider them to be the “second generation” of the McCarrick Cardinal Cabal, it becomes clear who constitutes the third: Newark’s Tobin, Chicago’s Cupich, and now San Diego’s McElroy. And, of course, McCarrick’s front man twenty years ago in Dallas and now his successor in D.C.: Wilton Cardinal Gregory.
“Pray for me. The snake strikes at the head,” Cardinal Burke begged me years ago.

But The Snake Doesn’t
Like Us Either . . .

When the indicted pastor of St. John the Apostle Parish disappeared in 2005, his parochial vicar didn’t waste any time. He declared a parish-wide Penitential Service with several confessors.
The line of parishioners went all the way around the block.
He tore up the old pastor’s plans for a “church in the round” and proposed a beautiful monument to the Faith instead.
Pledges paid for it in a month.
We are under siege. And tougher times are coming.
The grass-roots of the Church will be watered by the blood of martyrs. The current crisis calls on us to gird our loins, strengthening our resolve with prayers for the virtues of hope and fortitude.
While the faithful are assailed by the rot at the top, the true Church will be saved by the folks on the ground.
Even if we’re underground.

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