Dear Editor: Ed Wilkinson’s Sept. 8 column wrongly casts the crisis in the Church in exclusively ideological terms. He attacks the letter of former Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Vigano, which accused many bishops and the Holy Father of failing to act on former Cardinal McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse, as having a “vindictive” tone and accuses him of “throw[ing] so many people under the bus that you just have to question his motives.”
However, a significant number of American bishops and archbishops who personally know Vigano disagree with Wilkinson’s assessment. They call Vigano a man of faith and integrity. USCCB president Cardinal DiNardo said the questions raised by Vigano “deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence.” Bishop Robert Barron and many others have joined the call for an honest and objective investigation into Vigano’s claims.
Wilkinson refers to McCarrick’s practice of inviting seminarians to his beach house, where he’d routinely assign one or another to join him in bed for the night, as mere “sexual indiscretions” that were “something much different” than his sexual abuse of a 16-year-old altar boy.
But molesting a teenaged altar boy is “much different” only if one accepts the false premise that the sexual abuse of young men studying for the priesthood is a mere “indiscretion.” Wilkinson may have unwittingly provided an insight into the mindset of some in the hierarchy, which may explain why McCarrick rose through the ranks, notwithstanding complaints and secret monetary settlements by the Metuchen and Newark dioceses over a decade ago to victims of his “indiscretions.” We’ve reached a sad point when even The New York Times, which described McCarrick as preying on, abusing and sexually harassing seminarians, calls out grave sin more clearly than our diocesan newspaper.
Wilkinson also calls “wise” the Holy Father’s refusal to address Vigano’s allegations, so the press may conduct its own investigation. But why should we not expect and demand transparency and the truth from the Vatican, and why should we place our trust in a politicized media? Since when is the media to do the work of cleaning up the Church? Wilkinson says that “the subtleties of the situation are not served by a war in the headlines,” but The Tablet wages that war on Vigano.
Wilkinson is right that there is a cancer in the Church, but he misassigns the blame. Bishop Barron said that now is the time to for the laity to fight for the Church. I respectfully disagree with the Holy Father’s refusal to address Vigano’s claims. Only when there are answers and real transparency about the persons and structures that supported and shielded McCarrick will we, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, begin to cure the sickness ailing Christ’s Church.
PATRICK M. COLLINS
Editor’s Note: To be accurate, sexual misconduct with a minor is “different” from sexual relations with a legal adult. But to be clear, both are signs of evil, just “different” signs. Also, nowhere did I use the word “mere” to describe the sexual indiscretion. To do so would have been to minimize the sin committed. That certainly was not my intention.
Dear Editor: In response to your editorial (Sept. 8) I offer the following: You cite … “a full scale civil war” of liberals and conservatives. That’s a bit over the top. Current verbal communication can hardly be described as war. Alas, silence and procrastination could lead to a similar fate of the 15th Century or just an abandonment of the Church.
You question whether there were ever sanctions against McCarrick? Well, if not, there should have been! There is “credible evidence” of his indiscretions going back a long time. A letter from 2006 surfaced this week alluding to the Vatican’s knowledge of his indiscretions prior to 2000. That letter was from an official in the Vatican seeking a reference as to the character of a member of the clergy who may been exposed to McCarrick’s antics pre-dating 2000.
You also suggest that Vigano may be a conservative. So what? Does that make his statements any less truthful? You describe his charges as being “very vindictive” and throwing “many people under the bus” thus questioning his motives. Obviously, this cardinal has spent more than 20 years reporting these indiscretions through the chain of command without any response.
At what point does one explode and fight back ? Or as Vigano put it; ‘I’m an old man who will soon meet my Maker, Who will ask me what I did about the knowledge I had of McCarrick’?
Comparing the degree of abusing minors versus young seminarians really neutralizes any argument you may have in this matter. (your paragraph 6 of your op-ed)
Should the Pope resign? Certainly not at my pay grade to judge. However, silence is not the answer. Time to investigate? How much time is needed – 20 years isn’t sufficient?
Silence and procrastination is what has brought us to this situation in the Church. The clock has run out of time. We have South America and Pennsylvania to thank for burying our head in the sand. Action speaks louder than words!
Editor’s Note: No one is advocating silence on the issue. The Diocese of Brooklyn has been extremely aggressive in combatting the sexual abuse issue. All charges go directly to civil authorities and any credible charges, whether they fall within the statute of limitations or not, result in the immediate dismissal of the clergyman.
Dear Editor: In observing the recent fallout from the McCarrick affair, it is important to note that there is no mechanism to force a pope to resign. It is Pope Francis’ papacy for life, or he alone can decide to retire. However, the circumstances that have brought us to this great crisis are sobering for anyone who loves the Church. At the very least, at the time Cardinal McCarrick was advising Pope Francis on U.S. bishop appointments, he had caused two dioceses to pay large settlements to victims he personally abused. Indeed, as reported by the NY Times on July 19, 2018, one of the abuse victims was originally the first baby he baptized, an outrage that cries to heaven for vengeance. Moreover, in numerous press reports, and even in some bishops statements, the former cardinal was open and notoriously sexually active.
How could such a man, with his reputation and two sexual abuse lawsuits settled against him, get to the level of advising the Pope? Some like Cardinal Cupich say the problem is “clericalism.”
Others say the problem is the “backlash,” as Father James Martin said on Aug. 31, 2018, that some are engaging in a “witch-hunt” against gay priests. My own view is that the faithful have been much too passive in demanding answers – similar to what the USCCB is now saying, we require detailed answers about not just how the McCarrick affair happened, but other “incidents” that have taken place at high levels of our Beloved Church.
Are there other senior advisers with squalid records? Is there is a culture of pederasty in the Church that somehow has enabled this crisis?
And finally when can it be effectively terminated through holy and faithful men replacing the wicked.
JAMES C. GANGE