One obvious next step in the Cardinal McCarrick story is uncovering more victims of his abuse. We now know of two. I would bet that there will surely be more. But that’s not the most interesting or important part of the story.

The key now is to uncover the networks within the clergy and episcopate. Some of you might have seen the shocking story that reader Mark Crawford told in the comments section here in recent days. I found that he told the same story in testimony before the New Jersey legislature in 2004. Here’s a portion of that testimony:

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be heard today! My name is Mark Crawford, I am speaking to you today on behalf of my younger brother as well as myself, both survivors enduring more than four years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse by our parish priest, Father Kenneth Martin.

Fr. Martin was assigned to St. Andrews parish in Bayonne where I was attending catholic grammar school. He became very close to my family who were active parishioners. He often spent much of his time at my house rather than the rectory. My mother trusted him as a priest and believed he always had the best of intentions for us. He eventually began taking me on trips throughout the country, some for weeks at a time, including one to Europe. He brought me fine clothing and jewelry and would even give me money if I asked. It was on a train trip to Colorado when he first sexually abused me, I was 13 then. This continued several times a week for the next few years.

On the occasion of my 14th birthday, he became angry at something I had said. Too afraid to admit I said it, he took my younger brother and I to the basement to beat our bare backsides with a belt buckle. On another occasion, as I was walking him home to the rectory in the early morning hours, he wanted to talk about how I saw him in my life. When I told him that I sometimes felt more like his wife he hit me hard enough to knock me through a row of hedges and on a trip to Europe we physically fought as I would not sleep in the same bed with him, he won. Such outbursts of anger and physical abuse were not uncommon. At age 17 I moved out of the house and he began sexually abusing my younger brother. The effects on him have been far more devastating — his wife left him taking his children and his home. A once vibrant, energetic and hard working man, his deep, emotional scars have rendered him permanently disabled.

In 1983 I finally summoned the courage to tell the local bishop that Fr. Martin had abused me both sexually and physically and the he was probably doing the same to my younger brother. I never asked him for anything other than to remove Farther Martin from our parish and ensure he harms no other children. This bishop was quite irritated and did not treat me kindly. He insisted I meet with a priest at Boystown and explain everything to him in detail. At my last meeting with this priest, I was simply told to stay away from Fr. Martin and he would stay away from me. Of course that did not happen, they never removed him from my parish as I had requested. In fact, they never reported this man to the local authorities, as they were required to do by State law. After all. the penalty for not reporting is only $500.

After spending several more years in our parish, Fr. Martin was rewarded for his priestly abilities and appointed the Archbishop’s [Theodore McCarrick] personal secretary. After several years of service, he was returned to parish ministry as a pastor in the Oranges.

In 1996 my younger brother began to speak of his abuse. This was something I believed I managed to put behind me, I was wrong. My life began to unravel as fear of the truth finally coming out could and would cause irreparable damage to my family and our relationships. I began having nightmares and flashbacks the likes of which I would wish on no one. I began to see a therapist. No longer able to sleep or function as normal, I was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder and depression.

I again approached the church but this time I retained counsel so as not to be ignored AGAIN. I was seeking a pastoral response but I received a legal one. They offered to pay for my therapy but stated this in NO WAY admits any responsibility. They also made it clear that any attempt at civil litigation would fail as Charitable Immunity protected them and the Statute of Limitations had already expired. Eventually the Church offered some money and repeatedly asked for a confidentiality agreement. I was outraged that they wanted my silence and made it clear I would never agree to any such condition of secrecy.

Finally, I insisted on a meeting with the Archbishop and he did meet with me. I asked that Father Martin not have access to children again and he assured me this would not happen. Several months later Father Martin was quietly returned to ministry as a hospital chaplain in Newark. I found this out when I saw his picture in the diocesan newspaper at Christmas time, he was surrounded by children. When I saw this I knew the Church still didn’t get it. These institutions had no incentive to change because they have been well insulated by virtue of this states Charitable Immunity Act.

Archbishop McCarrick hired a child molester as his personal secretary. Why?

Here is a sworn affidavit by Father Robert Hoatson of the Archdiocese of Newark, in a case in which he was suing the Church (including then-Newark archbishop John Myers) over wrongful dismissal. He believed that Church officials were retaliating against him for telling the truth about sexual abuse. Excerpts from that affidavit:

7. On page 2 [of the Newark Archdiocese’s court filing], I am described as being in opposition to church teachings and I am described as someone who brings disrepute on the church. My response is that there is no reference to any Church teachings that I have opposed. I have spoken out about sexual abuse by clergy and efforts to cover-up these crimes through illegal, unethical, and immoral behavior with respect to protecting, moving, or providing for those who have sexually abused children and others. The defendants have attempted to claim that I am a heretic when the amended complaint claims the retaliation and hostile work environment that I experienced does not involve church teaching and that I have not opposed church teaching. I also have spoken out on matters of public safety, my own abuse, and the abuse of children, and, as such, I have wide constitutional freedoms to express these beliefs. The defendants have not offered any reason for their severe adversarial employment action toward me except to say the Courts do not have jurisdiction.

8. On page 3, I am described as not agreeing with the church that homosexuality is a mental disorder. My response is that the Church refers to homosexuality as being objectively disordered, not a mental illness. The psychological associations of this country removed homosexuality from its list of illnesses several years ago. I have not preached or written in contradiction to the Church’s teachings. I have only set out contradictions and hypocrisy.

9. If the Church insists on calling homosexuality a mental disorder, than many of our leaders, politicians, and bishops are mentally disordered, because a sizable number of them are homosexuals, including the three bishops mentioned in this lawsuit [Newark’s John J. Myers, Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, and Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany]. These allegations have not been denied by way of affidavit, and these claims were made to help explain why the bishops have not been able to police or monitor themselves and others, or why they might be compromised by their own personal behavior.

More:

21. On page 4, as far as my challenge to Archbishop Myers’ breach of celibacy is concerned, the following serves to explain and further detail my claims. I have independent evidence that Myers is an active homosexual who engages in consensual adult relationships, which I do not condemn him for. I have never said that he abused children. I believe he hypocritically espouses the church’s position while violating it himself. As I have made a claim and the defendants deny it (only in a memorandum of law), there exists genuine triable issues material which should, respectfully, not be decided as a matter of law. Consensual adult behavior is of no concern to me, and is nothing that I personally oppose.

More:

36. On page 10, with regard to a hostile work environment in the Archdiocese of Newark, the following serves to explain and further detail my claims. My response is that I have been in a hostile work environment for a long period of time and it has gotten much worse in the last three years as result of my legitimate “whistle-blowing.” A chronology of some of these specific events follows:

  1. From 1996-1997, I was assigned as a deacon to St. Margaret’s Parish, Little Ferry, NJ. The very first words out of the mouth of the pastor when I arrived were, “What are you doing here…I need a priest, not a deacon.” I became anxious and depressed as a result of his workplace abuse.

  2. From 1997-1998, I was assigned to St. Andrew’s Parish, Bayonne, my first priestly assignment. The pastor continually disparaged a family that had been sexually abused by a St. Andrew’s priest and offered no help to them. Pastor also led the FARTS (Fraternal Association of Rectory Trouble Shooters), a male society that met in the rectory to smoke cigars and get drunk. Fr. Kenneth Martin abused at least two boys in the parish and was never disciplined. These were crimes that were known about by the defendants, and they concealed them and failed to report same to law enforcement, despite having a duty to do so.

  3. From 1998-2001, I was assigned to Holy Trinity Parish and School, Hackensack, New Jersey. I replaced a sexual abuser but was never made aware of it until parishioners informed me of such. The pastor, an auxiliary bishop, worked with another auxiliary bishop to conceal the abuse of the priest I replaced, and the pastor did not wish the accused priest to be transferred. The pastor of Holy Trinity continues his retaliation by ordering that I not be paid for weddings, funerals, and baptisms when I act in the role of visiting priest. Instead, the priests who are assigned to the parish share in what is owed to me.

  4. The pastor screamed at and harassed me. He promised to hire a youth minister to “lessen my workload.” When I reminded him of such at a staff meeting of clergy, he responded, “You are the youth minister, and if you don’t like it, go down to the Archbishop and get a transfer.” I went and asked for a transfer. The pastor intended to make my life a living hell while assigning church payroll funds and bonuses to others who were his “gay” favorites and informants.

  5. When I challenged a scout master to return thousands of dollars belonging to the troop (which would have been stolen property had I not challenged him), the pastor told me that I had treated him badly. When I fired a convicted felon who worked in our school aftercare program with small children as soon as I learned about her past, the pastor criticized me for mistreating a faithful parishioner.

  6. This discriminatory conduct was due to my heterosexuality and my complaints about the sexual abuse of children.

  7. From 2001–2002, I resided in the rectory of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, West Orange, New Jersey. I was forced to live with a sexual abuser which was done as a retaliatory action. When I reported the presence of the abuser in my rectory, I was told to move out. As soon as I was informed of his being moved in, I became very sick with acute gastritis and needed emergency treatment. I was very nervous about having to live with an abuser, since I had previously been sexually abused and worked with survivors and children. I was fearful of the pedophile’s presence and could not rest knowing that he was not being held accountable.

  8. For part of 2002, I resided in the rectory of St. Mary’s Parish, Closter, New Jersey. Three nuns in the parish asked me for help regarding an abusive superior. When the pastor found out I was speaking to the nuns, he began harassing me, forcing me to flee the rectory for my safety and well-being. Not only did the pastor harass me for helping abused nuns, he also harassed me because I am heterosexual and he was a promiscuous gay man. The pastor refused to pay me my salary for my final week in the parish and I have yet to be paid for my services.

  9. From December, 2002 to May, 2003, I resided in the rectory of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Newark, New Jersey. I was also director of schools in that parish, and, throughout my time there, I was harassed by archdiocesan personnel on a regular basis and retaliated against when I reported it. Persons in the chancery were receiving illegal kickbacks from companies involved in a school construction project that I was asked to supervise.

  10. The defendants have not rebutted these claims, and as such my claim of discrimination based on sexual orientation is at issue.

And:

108. I have made a claim that because of my heterosexuality and being a whistle blower, I have been discriminated against, harassed, retaliated against, and my civil and other rights have been violated. I am not and have never expressed animosity or negative beliefs about homosexuality; however, I have credibly alleged that in my experiences of nearly 25 years in the Christian Brothers and the Newark Archdiocese, there are far more homosexual than heterosexual men. Because the hierarchy and the positions of authority and power are dominated by homosexual men, I have personally witnessed and experienced discrimination due to my being heterosexual.

109. I believe that the Court need not rule on issues involving homosexuality of the defendants. I have claimed that a majority of present bishops are homosexual. The defendants have not denied this. Major Church agents/agencies have agreed with this position and it helps explain my claim of sexual discrimination, retaliation, a hostile work environment, and a violation of my civil rights.

110. Ordinarily, a claim for discrimination based on sexual preferences would be made by a homosexual who alleged discrimination, but in my profession active homosexuality far outweighs heterosexuality. Heterosexuality in the Christian Brothers and Newark Archdiocese is not only in the minority based on my experiences, but the retaliation and discrimination I have described above has been repeated due to my sexual preferences being outside the norm in the field in which I have worked.

111. I have specifically alleged that despite my qualifications and extraordinary record, other men less qualified have advanced due to their sexual preferences and often because of their sexual involvement with a person in a position of authority. One recent and specific example is that of a Christian Brother who obtained or received a job as Headmaster of Catholic Memorial High School in Boston because he was sexually involved with the Provincial of the Order.

112. I have also alleged that I have experienced retaliation for speaking out in general about sexual abuse, and none of my statements have been contrary to Church teachings.

113. I have alleged that the retaliation has been severe, and it has resulted in two specific terminations and a multitude of other adverse employment actions.

114. There has existed at both the Christian Brothers and the Newark Archdiocese an unwritten policy that an active homosexual priest or brother would and does advance, or obtain preferred assignments due to his sexual orientation and/or sexual involvement with a person in a position of authority.

115. I have suffered repeated adverse employment actions for discriminatory and retaliatory reasons. The defendants have not and cannot articulate to the contrary.

Read the whole thing.  Hoatson’s lawsuit was dismissed by the court on various technicalities, including jurisdictional. He left the priesthood in 2011, and now runs a non-profit organization, Road To Recovery, dedicated to helping victims of sexual abuse.

Note well that Hoatson’s sworn allegations against the now-deceased Cardinal Egan (allegations I had heard many times when I was a journalist in New York), the now-retired Archbishop Myers, and the now-retired Bishop Hubbard, were not disproved by the court. Nor were his claims that he was discriminated against as a heterosexual in an employment environment dominated by homosexuals dismissed. That doesn’t make them true, of course, but these allegations, given under penalty of perjury, are almost certainly relevant to answering the question: How did McCarrick get away with it for so long?

In a 2003 essay for this magazine, anthropologist Peter Wood wrote about what his academic field knows about homosexuality in social systems — this, in context of the prospect of legalizing same-sex marriage. This stands out:

But the Etoro and similar societies do illustrate something about the logic of homosexual male relations in human societies. When such relations are subject to cultural elaboration they almost always fit into a pattern of initiation into secrets, male exclusivity, and a low status for women.

Look: Hoatson claimed in that sworn statement that he has independent evidence that Archbishop Myers was having gay sex — something Hoatson said he doesn’t himself judge, but that he did hold against Myers, given that Myers — known for being a conservative — was allegedly saying one thing publicly but doing another thing privately. What is this evidence? If I were a reporter dedicated to covering this story, I would want to see it.

Why? Because if true, it helps clarify the world of sexual secrecy within the ranks of the Newark clergy under the leadership of sexually active gay bishops — as McCarrick was, and as Hoatson alleges Myers to have been. If a bishop is sexually compromised, it’s not hard to imagine how that could affect all kinds of decisions within a Church where all the priests — and certainly the bishop — are officially celibate.

Normally reporters don’t want to touch stories about consensual sex among adults. This is especially true when it has to do with homosexuals, given the ugly history of homosexuality being used for blackmail purposes. The whole theory of the “lavender mafia” in the Catholic hierarchy is that sexually active gay men are in positions of authority in the Church — cardinals, archbishops, bishops, heads of religious orders, seminary rectors — and control which priests and laymen advance within the organization, and which ones are sidelined. They promote each other, keep each other’s secrets, and marginalize threats to their power.

They also, the theory goes, keep each other in line, so to speak. When I was covering this story full time over a decade ago, the Catholic sociologist Richard Sipe told me that the system works like this. When predatory gay priests run seminaries, they select on a bias for gay candidates (this story, by the way, was well told in Michael Rose’s 2002 book Goodbye, Good Men). Gay seminarians who intend to be celibate, Sipe said, face tremendous pressure to have sex. If they slip up even once, their failure will be noted, and shared, said Sipe back then (I’m talking 2002-03). And they will be made to understand that their lapse is remembered. Later, as a priest, predators within the priesthood have that knowledge to hold over the heads of other gay priests, to keep them silent if they ever have the desire to blow whistles.

When I was covering the scandal in the early 2000s, I spoke to several, unconnected heterosexual men — priests, former priests, seminarians — who said that gay seminary rectors or diocesan officials encouraged them to take female sexual partners, so that they too would be complicit in sexual secret-keeping, and therefore no longer a potential danger. Nothing in a system like that is a greater threat to the corrupt than men who are not corrupt.

(Of course, those Catholic men who have nothing to lose by telling what they know of this exploitative system, but who keep their silence out of a belief that one doesn’t air the Church’s dirty laundry in public, in fact perpetuate the system — and justify doing so by thinking of themselves as true-blue Church loyalists.)

This culture of secrecy — including the confraternity of pederasts — within the Church hierarchy and priesthood has other effects. The pseudonymous Catholic blogger Diogenes illustrated them in this satirical post from 2004:

[Client]: Hello. Hello? This is the archbishop. Hello? Who’s speaking, please?

[N/A]: You wouldn’t remember my name. We met back in ’77. At Fire Island.

[Client]: You’re mistaken. I’ve never been to Fire Island.

[N/A]: Oh yes you have. Remember that tall Irish bus-boy at Entre Nous? You came back to my beach house with Donal and me and a bottle of Tanquerey. In fact I still have some Polaroids of the occasion — a little over-exposed, but then so was Donal. Hello … You haven’t gone to sleep on me, have you?

[Client]: What do you want from me?

[N/A]: Nothing whatever. I’m just aware that you’ll be asked to make some statements in the next few weeks about who can and can’t receive communion, and I wanted you to know that I respect the statesmanlike way you’ve handled yourself in the past, and that I’m confident you’ll continue to earn my respect. My confidence is well placed, isn’t it?

[Client]: I … I’ll do what I can.

[N/A]: We can’t ask more than that, can we?

You see the point, right? Being sexually compromised makes one blackmailable in other ways — ways that can lead to consequential changes of church practice.

What needs to be looked into now is how McCarrick’s influence spread through the appointment of bishops who got their starts serving as auxiliaries to him in Newark and Washington. According to Wikipedia, bishops who served under McCarrick in Newark, and went on to run dioceses of their own, are:

James T. McHugh (1987-1989), appointed Bishop of Camden and later Coadjutor Bishop and Bishop of Rockville Centre [deceased]
John Mortimer Smith (1988–1991), appointed Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee and later Coadjutor Bishop and Bishop of Trenton [retired]
Michael Saltarelli (1990–1995), appointed Bishop of Wilmington [retired]
Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio (1996-1999), appointed Bishop of Camden and later Bishop of Brooklyn [still active]
Paul Gregory Bootkoski (1997-2002), appointed Bishop of Metuchen [retired]
Arthur Serratelli (2000–2004), appointed Bishop of Paterson [still active]

Let’s be clear: being associated with McCarrick does not make these men guilty of anything. But it does mean that their own clerical careers are intimately tied with an archbishop who is now known to have been a sexual abuser of seminarians and priests, and even a rapist of minors. Were these men sexually compromised by McCarrick when they were subject to his authority? What did they know? What, if anything, did they do with that knowledge?

I don’t expect them to answer those questions. But I do expect people to ask them.

One more thing: As Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, McCarrick only had three auxiliaries who went on to run their own dioceses:

William Edward Lori (1995–2001), appointed Bishop of Bridgeport and later Archbishop of Baltimore
Kevin Joseph Farrell (2001–2007), appointed Bishop of Dallas and later Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life (elevated to Cardinal in 2016)
Martin David Holley (2004–2016), appointed Bishop of Memphis

Archbishop Lori came in under Cardinal Hickey, and left shortly after McCarrick, Hickey’s successor, took over. Holley was elevated in Washington by McCarrick. Farrell is the most interesting of the three.

He was sent to Dallas to clean up the awful mess left by retired Bishop Charles Grahmann. Then he went on to Rome, to work in the Curia, and was made a cardinal by Pope Francis. Cardinal Farrell, as you see above, is now running family policy for the Vatican. He is in charge of next month’s big World Meeting Of Families in Dublin, which will be attended by Pope Francis. The festival is meant to explore and to celebrate Pope Francis’s encylical “Amoris Laetitia”.

There has been controversy over whether or not LGBT families should be included. Gay couples were included in the original promotional materials for the event, but removed after an outcry from conservatives. Church liberals are complaining that LGBT families are being marginalized by the event. Still, the foremost US advocate for LGBT inclusion (read: normalization within Catholicism), the Jesuit Father James Martin, is a scheduled keynote speaker there. From the Catholic Herald:

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin [of Dublin], president of the World Meeting of Families 2018, said Fr Martin’s book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” had the support of three US cardinals, including Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life.

So, seminarian-abuser and boy-rapist Uncle Ted McCarrick’s protegé in the Vatican is overseeing family policy for the global church, and is the master of this family festival in Dublin intended to celebrate Pope Francis’s teaching on love and family. Think about that. Again, guilt by association is wrong, but you’d have to be a complete idiot not to wonder about what Kevin Farrell knows, and what he had to do — and refrain from doing — to gain the patronage of Uncle Ted.

So, Cardinal Farrell loves Father Martin’s book. Who are the other cardinals who have openly endorsed the pro-gay tome? Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Francis-appointed Archbishop of Chicago, and Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Francis-appointed Archbishop of Newark — a see formerly occupied by Uncle Ted McCarrick.

In 2016, the influential and well-connected Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo lauded Francis’s moving Tobin to Newark as the work of Cardinal McCarrick:

As reported at the top, multiple signs point to Newark’s fourth archbishop [McCarrick] as the lead architect behind the choice of his second successor. Having maintained an enduring devotion for and among the Jersey church since his transfer to the capital in 2000, McCarrick – who Francis is said to revere as “a hero” of his – made a direct appeal over recent weeks for Tobin to be named to Newark, according to two sources familiar with the cardinal’s thinking.

A “hero” of Francis’s? Huh.

Yesterday’s Palmo’s report and commentary on the blockbuster NYT story about Uncle Ted’s molesting “James” contains this nugget:

Francis confidant and favorite of McCarrick’s who was sent to New Jersey’s top post at the latter’s behest, Tobin said in a statement that he would “discuss this tragedy with the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to articulate standards that will assure high standards of respect by bishops, priests and deacons for all adults.”

In as many words, that means another “Charter,” at least to some extent – and as both a cardinal and chair of a major USCCB committee, just as Tobin got his declared wish for a top-shelf conference delegation to visit and minister to families separated at the Mexican border earlier this month, he will have this as well.

Oh swell, another legalistic document stating “standards” that will be ignored by those who never have cared about standards, only the appearance of doing so. One can be forgiven for doubting whether Cardinal “Nighty-Night, Baby”‘s bona fides on this matter.

The Catholic journalist Phil Lawler got it right in his excellent book The Faithful Departed, published a decade ago. Phil, who’s a friend, posted an excerpt from the book the other day. Here’s an excerpt from Phil’s excerpt:

The same corruption that produced the sex-abuse scandal, the greatest crisis in the history of American Catholicism, remains widespread in the Church today. Indeed the corruption is more firmly entrenched now than it was in 2002, because the hierarchy has refused to acknowledge the most serious aspect of the scandal: the treason of the bishops.

Reform cannot begin until the corruption is acknowledged. And since the American hierarchy apparently cannot or will not recognize the corruption with itself, other Catholics must call the bishops to account and demand the sort of responsible pastoral leadership that the American Church has not seen for years. Under these circumstances lay Catholics who criticize their bishops are not showing their disrespect for the bishop’s office. Quite the contrary, those who revere the authority of a Catholic bishop should protect that authority—if necessary, even from the man who occupies the office.

Reform cannot begin until the extent of the corruption is acknowledged by the laity itself. A Catholic friend e-mailed last night that he doesn’t expect much to change out of the Uncle Ted story, because most ordinary Catholics don’t even know who he is, much less care, nor do they know much about their own bishops. We’ll see.

And we’ll see if the media can finally overcome its deep reluctance to investigate how gay clerical networks operate to protect and advance each other, and to cover up sexual abuse and misconduct. Uncovering these networks of abuse does not make one a homophobe. Not all gay people are abusers, heaven knows — but the fear of giving aid and comfort to homophobes has kept a lot of journalists who ought to know better from doing their jobs.

UPDATE: This is a devastating comment from reader Sigaliris, whom I once met:

Dallas 1997: we were there. I thought, “Surely this can’t get any worse. Surely they will have to do something now.”
Boston 2002: I thought “Surely this can’t get any worse. Surely they will have to do something now.”
Philadelphia 2005: When the Grand Jury report was published, we were there. Cardinal Rigali sent out a letter to all parishes that was read from the pulpit, full of self-justifying baloney and attacking the media for talking about the problem. In a later statement, he told the faithful NOT TO READ THE REPORT because it would just make them have bad thoughts. The letter was also published in leaflet form and distributed at the door as we were leaving Mass. I was so angry I didn’t know what to do. I crumpled the leaflet and threw it on the floor, saying “This is bullshi*t.”

Various people saw my agitation and advised me: “Oh, you should talk to your priest. Monsignor M. is such a good man. I’m sure he can help you.” I did not expect that to end well, but in the interest of trying everything, Mr. Sig and I arranged an appointment with the pastor. He first tried to defuse our anger in various manipulative ways. When I continued to voice my concerns, this supposedly kindly, soft-spoken older man raised his voice to me and actually YELLED, “YOU CAN’T CRITICIZE THE BISHOP.” I pointed to my lips and said, “Watch me—I’m doing it. Rigali is a criminal. He should be in jail. Bevilacqua was a criminal. He should be in jail. And probably Krol before him. They are all criminals. They should be defrocked. They should be punished. They should go to prison.” At that point he realized he couldn’t intimidate me, so when I said I was thinking of leaving the Church if this didn’t get fixed, he laughed in my face and said “Oh, I think we both know you can never do that, because WE have the sacraments.” He laughed with contempt. At that point, my barbarian ancestors rose up within me and said, “Well, we’ll just see about that.”

They had just dedicated a new million dollar church. Mr. Sig had been on the finance committee. We had given thousands of dollars to help build it. We were in it once or twice before we realized we could never go there again. After we stopped attending, neither the pastor nor anyone at all from the church ever called to see if we were okay. They still kept sending our pledge envelopes, though—for years, and long after we’d moved to another state.

Later I learned that one of the priests I had taken Communion from in that parish was an abuser.

Later I learned that a diocesan treatment facility for sex offenders was on the same piece of property as the Catholic high school. My son and many other boys walked past it every day. No one ever told us what it was for. We knew only that it was a “retreat center.”

Later I learned that in a church we had once attended and sometimes still visited for Mass when we were back in town, the pastor for two years had been RAPING a boy in the rectory, among other places. We’re not talking groping, or molesting a teenager. We’re talking about actual sexual penetration of a child. This man had started his destruction in another diocese and was then moved across the line to ours. Ultimately, a spineless bishop sent him to Alaska, where I have no doubt he abused indigenous boys who had no recourse.

Later still, I learned from a probably reliable source that my own father, and one of his beloved aunts, had been molested by priests. This was long before Vatican II and deep in the heartland, far from coastal influences.

You can say “ex opere operato” till you’re blue in the face—I am not taking the Eucharist from the hands of a rapist. And thanks to all the lying liars of the Catholic hierarchy, I will never be able to know who is and isn’t guilty.

All this is just to say that I thought I was beyond being shocked. But I am shocked, again. I am shocked, angered, appalled. But I’m not surprised. And that is the sorrow and the pity of it all—that no depth of degradation can surprise us now.

UPDATE.2: Catholic writer Michael Brendan Dougherty nails a defensive bishop:

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Note well: Bishop Tobin (not the same as Cardinal Tobin) is a conservative.