I have just returned from vacation and I am sorry to be away during this time of crisis in the Church. Just before I left I addressed the McCarrick situation in my homily and it certainly was a topic of conversation for my older brother, another priest and me during our vacation. To our dismay we then heard the report coming out of Pennsylvania followed by the news of some problem at St. John’s Seminary. Then this past weekend there was another report stating bishops in the U.S. and Rome, including the Pope, ha d knowledge of McCarrick’s transgressions and despite these was not hindered in his advancement in the Church’s hierarchy and until this summer was able to exert his influence in the Church.
We in this Archdiocese have been through this before and now all the old wounds have been reopened. My thoughts are first and foremost with all the victims and their families. We love you and we are praying for you and I will do all within my power to help you if you so desire. The Archdiocese also has a Pastoral Support and Outreach office that is available to assist you in the healing process.
All of us are experiencing anger, frustration and disappointment in these latest turn of events. As a priest I am ashamed that any priest or consecrated person would use his position to harm our young people stripping them of their innocence and robbing them of their faith. I was staggered by the number of known victims coming out of Pennsylvania and appalled by the blasphemy and the depth of depravity perpetrated by the abusers. This period spanned seventy years and they did not know what we know now, nevertheless common sense should have dictated to those bishops that these men were not fit for ministry and should have been handed over to law enforcement personnel. They put the institutional Church before the safety and well – being of those entrusted to their care.
We now know this was the modus operandi in the Church in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world. In this sense the poor response of the episcopacy of Pennsylvania is not surprising nor would any future revelation in other states or dioceses be surprising. What is deeply troubling to me is the case of McCarrick. There not only was a different set of standards for bishops as opposed to priest but others along the way protected him and promoted his cause. The accusations of the former Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano, are extremely serious and need to be investigated and the truth must be made known to all of us. I certainly support the request made by Cardinal DiNardo, President of the USCCB, and other bishops for an independent and transparent investigation of the McCarrick situation and the charges made by Archbishop Vigano. This should be carried out by lay experts with training in criminal investigations.
For the past month or so I have been disappointed, discouraged and deeply angry by all these events; this is the mood of priests in general from what I have observed. Today (8/28) Cardinal O’Malley had a gathering of priests to talk about the present crisis and to explain what is being done regarding St. John’s Seminary. The Church is going through a painful but necessary purification process and we have been chosen by God to live through this ordeal. We need to pray for the victims first of all but we also need to pray for and support one another. We cannot let the sins of others destroy our faith in Christ and His Church for He is still the head of the Church and we have His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against her. Please be assured of my prayers for all of you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,