Which Of the Six?

Commenting here, Liam wondered where this news falls on the scale of the six. I don’t know if that’s a direct invitation to comment. But seeing as I’ve offered no commentary outside of documents for a week or two, I’ll bite.

For Cardinal McCarrick, a tragedy, certainly. Given his resume, a gifted man, and recognized so by his superiors. I notice from his resume he was never a parish pastor. Of sorts, that’s also a tragedy on a different scale. That’s not to say that being a university muckety-muck, a bishop’s secretary, then a bishop in four locations doesn’t make for an impressive career. But it begs two comments:

  • As a capable assistant, then administrator, Ted McCarrick didn’t accomplish anything professionally that a woman or lay man couldn’t do.
  • Is the Catholic priesthood more about the personal ability and talent of a man or about the sacramental nature of leadership for and with Jesus Christ?

In a positive summary of the man’s reach beyond his job titles, maybe a bit of a lament in the whispers here. Regarding the AmCon commentary from Rod Dreher, a few more things:

  • Mr Dreher headline grabs: “Church: Cardinal McCarrick Is A Molester” but the blogger acknowledges some “allegations did not involve sexual molestation, but were clearly about unwanted sexual harassment.” So he’s right that there’s a #metoo opportunity afoot here.
  • However, the word from ArchNY is that a teen boy was a victim in the early 70s, so that draws the affair out of the realm of workplace bother and into abuse of a minor.
  • I notice that while the cardinal’s episcopal ordination happened before 1978, his three appointments came under Pope John Paul II. Mr Dreher references this obliquely via this comment, “My informant — remember, this was early 2002 — was still under the naïve impression that you could tell the good guys from the bad guys in the Catholic scandal based on where they lined up theologically. Not true!” What is true: ideology eclipsed virtue for the Congregation of Bishops at times during the 1978-2005 era.
  • The school named for the cardinal closed three years ago. No worries on a renaming.

The worst of this scandal may not be that a talented priest rose through the ranks while acting out sexually with men and boys, but that various people knew about it, or were confronted by credible complaints, and did nothing.

As it was in 2002, that is the crux of the scandal. Abuse is one thing–it happens in most any social situation. The cover-up is always worse.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Commentary, sex abuse and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Which Of the Six?

  1. Devin Rice says:

    Dreher raises some interesting questions. Could Dolan, Wuerl, Tobin and Myers not have known about McCarrick’s possible sexual activity involving adults? The answer is yes, it well within reason for them not to have this information. But the inverse is also true, it is very possible that one or more knew about his past behaviors to some degree. And really there is no way to prove innocence here, only guilt. Denials will be met with various degrees of skepticism.

    And of course, they may have heard rumors but when do rumors become actionable?

    • Liam says:

      Read Rod’s update today for more background. It’s not edifying – even (actually, especially) if you were to strip out all agenda-bias from his posts on this. Rod’s in an unusual position of having done significant journalistic legwork on this in the past, and being a person contacted by a NY Times journalist about the latter’s work on the same topic a decade later. The Times will have an, um, interesting journalistic job to conduct on itself in that regard – I hope they have the wisdom to include Ronan Farrow on that job, since he’s lived through that scenario in the past couple of years.

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