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How The Lavender Mafia Works

Uncle Ted, the Godfather of the Lavender Mafia (CNS)

The Catholic journalist Edward Pentin has an important interview with Father John Lavers, a Catholic priest who has some powerful insights into the McCarrick Report. First, some background:

He led a 2012 investigation into allegations of homosexual behavior and activity at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut that led to the removal of 13 seminarians, primarily from the Archdiocese of Hartford and Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey.

Father Lavers’ investigation also indicated that a homosexual “pipeline” had been created that funneled vulnerable Latin American candidates into some U.S. seminaries where they were sexually exploited, and subsequently ordained as actively homosexual priests in some American dioceses.

And on the basis of the evidence collected for the Holy Apostles investigation, Father Lavers concluded that it was Theodore McCarrick himself who was at the “epicenter” of this powerful influential network that has preyed on seminarians, and has advanced homosexually active clergy within the U.S. Church.

Father Lavers calls the McCarrick Report a “half truth, but not the complete truth.” More, from the interview itself:

Some critics in the Vatican have said this report throws up more questions than it answers, that it cries out for these questions to be answered. Would you agree with that?

It does. Yes, absolutely, a lot of questions, an awful lot of questions. There’s a surface level aspect to this, but when you scratch the surface, as we started to do in the 2012 investigation, we were being led to priests, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops and even to McCarrick himself. And as the investigation was forming up, again, still concentrating on the issues at Holy Apostles, we could see that ground zero was leading us to McCarrick. All avenues of this were leading back to McCarrick … . How aspects of recruiting and grooming seminarians were all done by people that owed an allegiance or something else, obviously, to McCarrick.

So where the investigation started in one area, that is at the seminary, its epicenter of all the major problems [was] one man: essentially, McCarrick. However, it is important to realize that he [McCarrick] continues to have many supporters within the Church who owe much to him for their own personal careers and positions of influence and power, and this support is in the form of silence that many have continued to give McCarrick.

Here’s the shocking (but not shocking) heart:

Critics have said the report appears to evade the issue of pervasive homosexuality among the clergy, and the report showed the hierarchy being rather cavalier in their attitude to inappropriate homosexual behavior with seminarians and young priests when it shouldn’t be tolerated at all. What’s your view on that?

Cavalier is probably one word of describing it. I think opportunistic and predatorial is probably a better word, I would say, based on what I’ve seen through the seminary investigation. Additionally, this has also been my experience investigating bishops and priests in the Church going back to the early to mid-nineties, for various civil authorities.

At Holy Apostles, where seminarians were being recruited and coming from the Latin American countries, they were probably the most vulnerable of individuals. They’re thousands of miles away from home. They’re essentially seeing themselves in the land of milk and honey in the U.S. You’ve got unlimited budgets given to various vocations directors, wining and dining them into an illicit lifestyle, and introducing them to a lifestyle where having relationships with men, from a sexual appetite perspective, was considered to be okay.

So introducing and grooming young seminarians like this, that have no recourse to home and no immediate family, they’re totally dependent on individuals within the host country, and this makes one very susceptible to suggestions. And that all starts at a low level and works itself upwards, again in terms of grooming vulnerable people. So, it begins with having them become dependent on various priests or individuals within various dioceses. Then the money is flowing, good places to live and the good meals, the travel and vacations and so forth, and then large parties with much alcohol, and then the parties that move into more explicit type of partying, from a sexual perspective. And then that breeds a sense of participation and belonging.

The concept of now you belong to a special group of people which develops the need to protect and cover for each other. And then of course, the silence and secrecy comes into it, suggesting that, “If you liked this and you enjoy this and you want to stay here, then you have to keep silent.”

This is how the system works in such a way that everybody who is exposed to this almost has a piece of information on somebody else, and so then there’s a collaboration of silence to be maintained. So, no one tells on the other person, as long as the gravy train of sex, money and power is moving in the right direction and everyone in the sub-group can protect and advance each other within the organization.

How does the vulnerability of these priests and seminarians play into this behavior? 

It’s all built on the vulnerability of individuals. You have certain individuals among North American seminarians who may be chosen to help and corral the younger seminarians. We saw that in the 2012 investigation, there were certain older seminarians who were providing younger seminarians with opportunities to meet other priests, monsignors, vicar generals, going up to bishop level, within the various dioceses. And then all of a sudden, like what has been discovered about McCarrick’s exploits, we found in our investigation, was that young seminarians were being brought around to different places for special parties, driven by priests, and given over to other priests and other people in various presbyteries in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Newark areas, and the Jersey Shore, which led to the beach house belonging to McCarrick.

Additionally, one of the difficulties in identifying the key individuals is that when they come together for the parties and the young vulnerable seminarians are being indoctrinated into this world, the people that are going to abuse them sexually are not wearing clerics. They’re all in civilian attire. So the person going into this situation doesn’t know a priest from, say, the monsignor to, say, a cardinal. They just know it’s a bunch of middle-aged to older men that he’s there to party with, who are connected in various positions within the Church. So it’s only over a period of time, if they see pictures or come into contact with say a McCarrick or a bishop or a monsignor, or a vicar general over the course of regular Church-related activities, that they can put two and two together. But by this time, once they’re exposed to senior people within these groups, they are pretty well-groomed to keep silent if they don’t want to be sent back to their home country.

Why does no one ever seem to speak up in these circles? Is it because they’re all complicit in some way, because this behavior is so prevalent?

It is. There’s a complicity to this, because of either being embarrassed or fearful of rejection, or having a dependency on a particular person in the Church or threatened with physical harm personally or having family members threatened back home or they simply owe something to somebody else. Again, there are many within the clergy who owe a lot to McCarrick because of what he did or they wish to keep silent because of what they themselves were complicit in with McCarrick. So it’s the “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” scenario.

In the 2012 investigation, we were involved in situations where we provided some bishops with direct evidence of information associated with priests and seminarians. At times it was deemed prudent to not share all the information within a line of enquiry knowing already of their direct involvement in being complicit in suppressing information, but also to test to see if they would actually do something.

And they wouldn’t?

They wouldn’t. For example, the investigation would reveal further evidence, that is direct proof and clarification, which would be made known to a certain bishop or an archbishop and that person would be complicit in the deflection and suppressing of information, even to the point of destroying evidence — in some cases providing a bishop with information that the evidence exists, where to find it, who has it, and then finding out afterwards that it had disappeared without a trace. And this was common, and unfortunately remains common.

Read the entire interview. 

Some of us have been saying since at least 2002: you will never, ever get the full picture of the Catholic clerical abuse scandal until you also understand the way homosexual networks of influence work within the institutional Church. There is a reason why the late Richard Sipe, the man who knew more than any other American about the sociological phenomenon of clerical sexual abuse, told me in 2002, on the record, that gay men should not be ordained at the present time.

Sipe was a Vatican II liberal, and he said what he said not because he believed gay men could not be good priests. Rather, he said it because he said the networks of exploitation were so extensive and so powerful within the Catholic clergy in the US that a gay man who intended to live chastely would face a hellacious press from priests, seminary rectors, and others, to act on it. And once they acted on it, said Sipe, they were neutralized. Even if they were chaste for the rest of their lives, the fact of their having compromised once would make them blackmailable, and commit them to turning a blind eye to sexual misconduct among other priests. Therefore, according to Sipe, gay men shouldn’t be ordained to protect them from this system that would exploit, abuse, and instrumentalize them.

We will never see the mainstream media tell this story. Ever. Last year, the gay French journalist Frederic Martel published a celebrated book purporting to expose the rampant gay culture in the Vatican. Unfortunately, as I noted here, the book was so badly written that it became impossible to tell what was credible and what was mere gossip.

I became aware of the Pentin interview with Father Lavers when it was sent to me by a Catholic parish priest, who adds:

If the Register story is true, this pulls back the curtain in a stunning fashion. I can’t vouch for the priest being interviewed, but it seems he was considered solid enough as a former secular investigator to be part of an inquiry into homosexual stuff at a seminary in CT. This revealed DEEP layers of grooming, including drawing young men from Latin American into the seminary for this purpose. It points to specific priests and prelates, with McCarrick as a node or perhaps pinnacle of activity. The first half of the interview speaks to the McCarrick Report, but the later half gives more of what he found in his investigations. It’s about as bad as our worst case scenarios have been–not just fellow travelers or small groups of manipulators, but in some cases massive conspiracy.

I can’t imagine the investigation this priest recounts has ever been publicly discussed. I wish the secular press would interview him and get on it.

Me too. If it comes from someone like me, or any other figure in conservative journalism, it will instantly be dismissed. It needs to be done by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Washington Post, or some publication at that level. At this point, I do not believe that it will be done. Why? Because the findings stand to knock the legs out from beneath part of the progressive Catholic narrative about homosexuality, and vindicate what right-wing Catholics have been saying for a long time.

So, ordinary Catholics will remain in the dark about what’s really going on within their clergy’s circles, and who can be trusted. Notice that Father Lavers said that bishops destroying evidence “was common, and remains common.”

A Catholic priest friend of mine was at a conference when the McCarrick news broke in 2018. He was standing next to a prominent liberal Catholic journalist, whose reaction was something like, “McCarrick! This could bring the whole thing down.” His point, in context, was that McCarrick was the personal incarnation of the nexus between gay sex and money within the Catholic hierarchy. That journalist, who has written favorably about Pope Francis and his re-orienting the Church around progressive initiatives, has scarcely written about the McCarrick case.

UPDATE: A Catholic priest e-mails:

First, I have never seen or heard of these kinds of parties.  Although, being straight, I wouldn’t have.
Second, what I have seen is “like attracts like.”  I have seen examples of how certain chanceries, seminaries, administrations get a malignant homosexual in charge and that person begins to attract and recruit more men like him.  A malignant homosexual will want other malignant homosexuals around him to, at first, maintain a lavender/effeminate/dissenting culture.  As that culture continues, I think that’s where it leads to further exploitive behaviors that become systemic.
Third, I have rarely seen a homosexual in a position of power who did not bring more of them around him.  I don’t know if this is always intentional and malignant, but it definitely happens.
You will often see this kind of thing when a bishop keeps promoting young/handsome/orthodox priests into positions that seem beyond their years.  They get promoted or are brought close with little to no experience.  I’m not saying all of them are gay, but there is definitely something about older homosexual men wanting younger effeminate men around him.  I’ve seen this dynamic in religious houses, seminaries and chanceries.  “How did that guy get that position, he just got ordained?”  He fits the type: young, handsome, idealistic, conservative, charismatic, clearly someone higher up is choosing him because of externals and is attracted to him in some way.
Main conclusion: homosexuals are a huge problem in the church.  I do know some who are ok, but not many.  Even the ones who have kept out of trouble have serious problems with Church teaching.  The reason it doesn’t change?  e.g. A bishop is gay, he promotes gay men into high ranking positions in his diocese, they get on the terna to become future bishops.  The gay subculture has become the predominant culture.  I fear we are at a place where it is so pervasive that it cannot change.  Bishops won’t connect homosexuality with the abuse crisis because so many of them are gay.  They also won’t tell the truth about McCarrick for the same reason.
UPDATE.2: Lee Podles, author of Sacrilege and a trained investigator, comments:

Several decades ago, when I was doing background investigations for security clearances, I was puzzled by the interest in homosexuality. I finally asked, “Are homosexuals really more likely to be treasonous than heterosexuals? If not, why the interest?” My supervisor said that the problem was that once a homosexual got into an managerial position, he filled his corner of the federal bureaucracy with other homosexuals, and what with the sexual jealousies and tensions, what little work the bureaucrats got done would evaporate into nothingness.

I asked Father Fessio why the California province of the Jesuits was so gay (the students once posed for a group photo in drag), He said that once a gay became a gatekeeper, such as a vocations director, applicants would self-select, even without any action on the part of the gatekeeper. That is, heterosexuals would feel that this life was not for the, while gays would feel comfortable.

It is hard to discover what people are doing in bed. However, it is easy to track money. In researching sexual abuse, I noticed that almost always the grooming of victims was paid for by theft or misappropriation of church assets. Everyone from the Vatican on down fights audits and true financial accountability and transparency, because it would disclose massive misuse of church assets for illicit and sometimes criminal purposes. Small donors have little power, but I wish that big donors would insist that the Church abide by generally accepted accounting standards. I have seen many supposedly transparent church financial documents which remind me of George Washington’s expense account which end with Miscellaneous, 1,000,00 pounds. (Such is the legend).

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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