Here’s a powerful First Things column from the veteran Catholic writer Philip Lawler, weighing in on the meaning of the McCarrick affair. Excerpts:

Newark’s Cardinal Joseph Tobin (who, by the way, is regarded as one of McCarrick’s proteges) has said that the past month’s revelations point to a need for better policies and procedures within the Church. But the policies for dealing with a homosexual predator have always been in place. The problem has been the unwillingness of Church leaders to invoke the policies, to use the proper procedures. Or, to put it a bit differently: As the political experts remind us, personnel is policy.

The failure of Church leaders to take action against McCarrick when they first heard of his offenses, perhaps twenty years ago, is evidence of the need for reform within the hierarchy. The fact that many prelates took action for McCarrick—making him their spokesman, enlisting his help, following his lead—speaks to the urgency of the crisis.

Nor is this an exclusively American problem. Pope Francis has given prominent posts to cardinals who are tainted by scandal, and allowed them to remain in those posts despite mounting evidence against them.

Lawler names names. More:

In 2002, when the American bishops met in Dallas to discuss the burgeoning sex-abuse scandal, I was among the hundreds of reporters on hand. As we milled about the press room, I was struck by the convergence of journalists’ opinions. Colleagues from one end of the ideological spectrum to the other joined around the coffee machine, shaking their heads and saying of the assembled bishops, “They don’t get it.” A similar convergence has occurred since the McCarrick scandal erupted. The remedy for negligent bishops is diligent bishops. The answer to corrupt bishops will come from bishops dedicated to reform.

Read the whole thing.

I think Lawler is certainly right, but I don’t know that the bishops are capable of the kind of diligence and reform necessary. I hope I’m wrong, but I keep hearing from you Catholic readers who say that the McCarrick story is not being covered around the country, and that most Catholics don’t know about it. In such a case, it’s easy for bishops to brush aside concerns. Look at this exchange between a Catholic of the Richmond diocese and his bishop’s office. I publish it with the permission of the reader, Michael Lynch, who says he’s sick of the evasiveness, and is sharing this exchange with all his friends. I’ve lightly edited it (taking out email addresses, etc) to protect privacy, and I’m not publishing the diocese’s communications director’s e-mails:

From: Michael Lynch
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2018 8:41 PM
To: Bishop Knestout
Subject: A Catholic in Charlottesville

Hello Bishop Knestout,

My family and I live in Charlottesville and attend both [names of parishes].

You have no doubt seen news about Cardinal McCarrick in the past few days. Here’s an article, in case you missed it:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/cardinal-mccarrick-everybody-knew/

This is quite shocking, even after all that we have learned of abuse in the Church and homosexuality in the clergy.

It is alleged that the Cardinal’s depravity with seminarians was an open secret. I understand that for two time periods you served as secretary to Cardinal McCarrick. What did you know or hear about this behavior, and what did you do with that information?

Assuring you of my prayers today,

Michael

On June 22, the Richmond diocese’s communications director responded to Lynch on the bishop’s behalf by sending a copy of Bishop Barry Knestout’s public statement regarding the McCarrick affair:

Statement from Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Bishop of Richmond,

Regarding Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Retired Archbishop of Washington

In my years as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, I worked for a brief time in two roles for Cardinal McCarrick – as his priest secretary in 2001 and as his appointment secretary during 2003-2004.

I am deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the allegation brought against Cardinal McCarrick, who maintains his innocence. It is important to recognize the courage of the individual who came forward to make the report.

My thoughts and prayers are for all impacted by this situation, may they find healing in Christ’s unending love.

We wish to emphasize the Church’s commitment to care for victims who have suffered the trauma of abuse and to protect and help those victims heal.

In the Diocese of Richmond, anyone who has knowledge of child abuse is urged to report it immediately to the civil authorities. If church personnel are suspected of committing abuse, you are first to call the civil authorities in your area and then call the confidential Diocese of Richmond Victim’s Assistance Reporting Line at 888-887-9603.

Lynch wrote back:

On Jun 22, 2018, 2:14 PM, Michael Lynch  wrote:

Hi Deborah,

Thank you for the response. The statement seems to focus on the particular accusation of abuse of a minor, which prompted the Cardinal’s removal from ministry.

Could you read the blog post I linked below, which contains accusations that, while a bishop, Cardinal McCarrick would invite his seminarians to a beach house and “cuddle” them in bed. It is further alleged that this behavior was widely known among the clergy of the cardinal’s dioceses. Could you ask Bishop Knestout what he knew or heard of those allegations in his time in Washington, and what he did with that information?

Thank you,

Michael

Having received an “out of office” automatic reply, Lynch reached out again to Cox on July 6:

From: Michael Lynch
Date: Friday, July 6, 2018 at 6:10 AM
To: Deborah Cox
Cc: Bishop Knestout
Subject: Re: Fwd: (McCarrick statement) Fwd: A Catholic in Charlottesville

Hi Deborah,

Now that you are back in the office, could you and the bishop address the question in my most recent email, below?

Thank you,

Michael

To which Cox responded later that day by referencing the earlier Knestout statement, as well as responses by the Archdiocese of Washington, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Diocese of Metuchen. She said that the matter is under investigation and “is undergoing a canonical process,” and that there would be “no further statement at this time.” And she asked for prayers for victims, healing, etc.

Later that evening, Lynch responded:

On July 6, 2018 7:54 PM, Michael Lynch wrote:

Hi Deborah,

Thank you for your response. I do not envy your job.

As I have clearly stated twice, my question is not about Cardinal McCarrick’s abuse of minors. My question is about what Bishop Knestout knew or had heard about Cardinal McCarrick’s cuddling of seminarians in beach houses.

I have determined from your responses that the bishop does not take this question seriously. Given the gravity of the alleged conduct, and Bishop Knestout’s long history of high placement in the Archdiocese of Washington, I think it is irresponsible and cowardly to avoid this question. I no longer consider Bishop Knestout suitable to be a shepherd of Christ’s flock.

Please inform him that at my next convenience I will be cancelling financial pledges to the diocese and that I promise that I will never enroll my children in a school run by the diocese during his tenure. I will support other Catholic institutions that I judge less compromised.

I will share this exchange with friends in the diocese and let them draw their own conclusions.

Michael

Michael Lynch tells me that he wrote to Bishop Knestout again this past Friday, asking for him to answer the question instead of fobbing it off to his press secretary.

Here’s some world-class buck-passing in the form of a McCarrick column by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley. The headline itself tells quite a story:

Policy needed! Well, there you go. More concise than Cardinal Joseph Tobin’s post-McCarrick view that the bishops must “articulate standards that will assure high standards,” certainly.

“Any cleric or monk who seduces young men or boys, or who is apprehended in kissing or any shameful situation, shall be publicly flogged and lose his clerical tonsure.” — St. Basil the Great

“Let any member of the clergy caught in that vice against nature, given that the wrath of God falls over the sons of perfidy, be removed from the clerical order or forced to do penance in a monastery.” — Fifth Lateran Council (1512-1517)

“Policy needed.” — Cardinal Sean O’Malley

From the Cardinal O’Malley’s column:

The Church needs to swiftly and decisively take action regarding these matters of critical importance. In every instance of claims made by victims of sexual abuse, whether criminal violations or the abuse of power, the primary concern must be for the victim, their family and their loved ones. The victims are to be commended for bringing to light their tragic experience and must be treated with respect and dignity. Recent media reports also have referenced a letter sent to me from Rev. Boniface Ramsey, O.P. in June of 2015, which I did not personally receive. In keeping with the practice for matters concerning the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, at the staff level the letter was reviewed and determined that the matters presented did not fall under the purview of the Commission or the Archdiocese of Boston, which was shared with Fr. Ramsey in reply.

If that’s true — if Cardinal O’Malley honestly was not informed by his staff of these grave accusations against a brother cardinal, alleging that he routinely abused seminarians sexually — then he ought to be firing those people, and expressing great remorse at this failure of leadership. That’s not what he did. The fact that his response is to issue a lawyerly denial, and a press release promising that this time, he’s going to get serious — it’s scarcely credible.

Catholic writer Michael Brendan Dougherty is not having it:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Another Catholic reader writes about former McCarrick auxiliary Cardinal Kevin Farrell’s claim today that he never, no, not ever, had any inkling that his DC flatmate and boss Uncle Ted was a boy-bonker or seminarian-fondler:

If it helps, when I consider whether Cardinal Farrell is credible in claiming he was “shocked” to hear about Cardinal McCarrick’s crimes, I cannot help but recall that Cardinal Farrell was once a Legionary. And not just “a” Legionary, he was the general administrator of the Legion of Christ. He lived in Monterrey, Mexico. (See http://www.lastampa.it/2016/08/17/vaticaninsider/pope-appoints-bishop-farrell-of-dallas-texas-to-head-new-vatican-department-for-laity-family-and-life-6dULdBCsjNj9tp1AMX09jI/pagina.html).

Yet he said me “maybe” met Fr. Maciel “once or twice” and likewise said he had not an inkling about Fr. Maciel’s sexual improprieties: “I never knew anything back then. I worked in Monterrey, and maybe I would have met Maciel once or twice, but I never suspected anything.” (See https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/the-pope-is-on-the-phone-she-said-like-hell-he-is-i-replied-1.2869000).

This man, who worked closely with Fr. Maciel and Cardinal McCarrick for years, but reports that he had no idea about their crimes, is now the prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.

This is not credible. Or maybe to rise to that level in the Church, you have to train yourself not to see what is right in front of your nose. To quote Phil Lawler again:

But the policies for dealing with a homosexual predator have always been in place. The problem has been the unwillingness of Church leaders to invoke the policies, to use the proper procedures. Or, to put it a bit differently: As the political experts remind us, personnel is policy.

UPDATE: I inadvertently left out one of Lynch’s emails to the Richmond diocese. I’ve posted it in the chain above. Here it is again:

On Jun 22, 2018, 2:14 PM, Michael Lynch wrote:

Hi Deborah,

Thank you for the response. The statement seems to focus on the particular accusation of abuse of a minor, which prompted the Cardinal’s removal from ministry.

Could you read the blog post I linked below, which contains accusations that, while a bishop, Cardinal McCarrick would invite his seminarians to a beach house and “cuddle” them in bed. It is further alleged that this behavior was widely known among the clergy of the cardinal’s dioceses. Could you ask Bishop Knestout what he knew or heard of those allegations in his time in Washington, and what he did with that information?

Thank you,

Michael

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Esler preserved these comments on the webpage of the Boston Pilot, the archdiocese’s newspaper, as they appeared under Cardinal O’Malley’s column; they were subsequently purged:

Ken Crowe • 5 hours ago
What a politically correct piece of junk article. What did Cardinal O’Malley know
about the old pervert? Why didn’t he DO SOMETHING over THE LAST 20 YEARS? Oh, right, he DIDN’T KNOW!!! SURE he didn’t!! Maybe O’Malley should shed his long flowing brown robes, quit pretending he’s St. Francis and do something courageous – stop the old pederasts.
I’ve lost all respect for the USCCB, and Catholic bishops in general. The next time O’Mally or any of his gay-loving cronies (including this Pope) lecture me, President Trump, or anybody else for that matter I’ll laugh out loud. These bishops have made it an embarassment to be Catholic. I’m done defending these clowns’ actions to my Protestant friends – I have no answer anymore.
How many more predatory homosexual bishops do you know about Cardinal O’Malley? Are you STILL keeping silent as other bishops engage in the same behavior? Rest assured there are more…he’s the tip of the iceberg.
1△ ▽ • Reply • Share›
OCCG • 6 hours ago
Uhhh- it took 4 weeks for the head of the Vatican commission on child sex abuse
prevention to make a statement on this when countless lay editorials had already been written. So exactly what do you mean by “a rapid response” is needed? And

yyy
have you told your committee staff/secretaries that you DO want to read personally every letter from a priest alleging repeated acts of sexual assault on seminarians by a superior/bishop? Or do you need us to remind you to send that memo? Do you think, maybe, some bishops should resign for this? Would love to hear your opinion on that, or do you just plan to discuss it in committee in a few months? Do you really think bishops have any moral authority left to lose? Or was that a joke? (You do know that after the last 2 decades your collective last chance has been used). What about the stories that Cdl McCarrick was using $$ to wine and dine his gay paramours/abuse victims on cross country trips and fancy restaurants – is that acceptable policy, or do you need a USCCB committee to discuss it first before commenting? Are there any other bishops you know of that have beach houses on the side? Where do they get the money to pay for them? Do you bother to have them sell the beach houses before they shutter parishes or is that decided on a case-by-case basis? Some of us have heard similar stories about other bishops – do you want us to let you know, or should your secretary take down the names, or does the USCCB want to know?
2△ ▽ • Reply • Share›
Alfred Lansing • 6 hours ago
Cardinal O’Malley, did you know that McCarrick was involved in consensual gay relationships throughout his career? Did you know that his beach house was an ongoing gay orgy? Was this statement written by a crisis management team at a PR firm? Are you aware of any other bishops who are gay men with active sex lives?
2△ ▽ • Reply • Share›
Kevin Esler • 6 hours ago
One wonders what is required to get the attention of the Cardinal. If a credible source reported that to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors that a US Cardinal was routinely committing human sacrifice every Thursday at noon, would that have made it up the chain of command? What a disgrace. 1△ ▽ • Reply • Share›
John • 7 hours ago
The Pope should require all the US Cardinals to go to Rome and to submit their
resignations. Just like in Chile.
The Cardinals have failed miserably! 2△ ▽ • Reply • Share›
Dennis M Callies • 7 hours ago
“… the letter [from Ramsey] was reviewed and determined that the matters
presented did not fall under the purview of the Commission or the Archdiocese of Boston …”
This is an example of hierarchical structure. The structure collapses when an individual identifies himself with the structure or embeds his self in the reef of authority.
The only justification for a hierarchy is that it conform to the creedal assertion of an apostolic church. The apostles knew the Lord Jesus.
2△ ▽ • Reply • Share›
Kevin Esler • 7 hours ago
A great pity something more appropriate was not done with that letter from Fr
Ramsey that alerted someone in your office 3+ years ago to McCarrick’s activities. While not strictly within the purview of Protection of Minors, surely a responsible course of action would have been to notify you, the Cardinal nevertheless. It was after all provided by a very brave whistle-blowing priest of good standing. To be honest, it is barely credible to me that a matter of that gravity was shuffled off like that.
2△ ▽ • Reply • Share›
Roberta Oliveira • 7 hours ago
Far beyond keeping the vow of celibacy these acts demoralize both the perpetrator and the victim. Whether a bishop, priest or street sweeper these

pp p,pp
individuals must be removed from the temptation to pursue deviant behavior. The Church in its corporate body must take swift action to do so when such behavior is confirmed. She has the unique ability to do so. Similarly, those exonerated should be publicly deemed so. Objectification of any human being, most particularly those unable to defend themselves, causes a death of the human spirit. Thou shalt not murder is still in full force and effect.
2△ ▽ • Reply • Share›
Daniel McEleney • 7 hours ago
I feel that the fact that you acknowledge that you received the letter about Card.
McCarrick and staid not part of the commission or the Archdiocese is Wrong. The commission should have reported the CDF and the Local Authorities and the dioceses involved at the minimum

UPDATE.2: Another reader writes about O’Malley’s response:

What a cop out. When I was an officer candidate in the Army it was pounded into us that you can delegate tasks but you can’t delegate responsibility. That is a touchstone of leadership. O’Malley’s response is basically “sorry, didn’t seen the letter because I’ve told my folks I don’t care about impropriety that doesn’t care about minors”. I’m so incensed that I’m practically in tears when I think about this.

Rod, think about who doesn’t fall under the mantle of “protection of minors”! Do our Bishops, the shepherds of the flock, not care if a priest or brother bishop is abusing a mentally handicapped parishioner? What about all the illegal immigrants (from the standpoint of not feeling they have recourse to the authorities)that the church is helping? So taking advantage of a widow mourning the loss of her husband isn’t O’Malley’s problem? How is it possible that our bishops are specifically telling their staff to filter out information about misconduct in their diocese.

My thoughts are running wild and there’s so much I want to say but I don’t have the time to state them well.

Please keep writing about this. Please keep shining a light on this. Please keep giving a voice to people like the priest who told you how we as laity can still support our parish but keep the diocese’s grubby mitts off that money.