Veteran Catholic Journalist: All Bishops Involved in Sex Abuse Scandal Must Resign

Christopher Manion, a veteran journalist and political analyst, makes the striking call that all U.S. bishops should resign who knew about the ongoing abuse crisis within the U.S. hierarchy for years and yet did not intervene. He also now reveals some painful aspects of the role of Rome in this regard – namely, the lame response from Pope John Paul II to this crisis.

Writing on 30 June for the Catholic newspaper The Wanderer, Dr. Manion picks up on the McCarrick scandal and the fact that the gravely immoral behavior of this prelate had been known to many in the U.S. hierarchy for many years. As an example, he refers to the work of Paul Likoudis, the now deceased courageous editor of The Wanderer, who was among the first to reveal the homosexual network within the U.S. episcopacy. (Here we might also remember Father Enrique Rueda’s early 1982 book on the homosexual network in the Church.) In a cutting tone, Manion comments, as follows:

Long before The Boston Globe published its “exposé” in early 2002, Paul reported on one instance after another of abuse and cover-up in chanceries nationwide. For his yeoman efforts, he was ridiculed, hectored, threatened, bullied, and, above all, studiously ignored whenever possible by one guilty bishop after another.

When, in 2002, the crisis became better known, says this journalist, the U.S. bishops claimed to have it “under control.” “‘It’s over,’ Auxiliary Bishop (now Vatican Cardinal) Kevin Farrell told the Knights of Malta in February 2002.”

In one of the most pertinent parts of his article, Manion speaks about the role of Rome (emphasis added):

That April [of 2002], USCCB officials told the Vatican not to worry. Our bishops could handle the situation themselves, they insisted. Days later, Pope John Paul summoned every American cardinal to the Vatican. He could have demanded serious changes, but he didn’t. Nor did he condemn the profound malfeasance of America’s hierarchy. Instead, he accepted the plaintive excuses that they had been repeating for years. They had been misled by “clinical experts” who thought that homosexual child rape was an illness, not a crime. It wasn’t their fault.

The cardinals then went home, Manion adds, promising “to do better.” Cardinal Mahoney went home “to spend a billion dollars of the faithful’s money to cover up for abuse and evading prosecution (he even insisted that priests’ personnel files were protected by the secrecy of the confessional!).” This comment alone revealed how ineffective the papal words were. “Not one of the American prelates offered his resignation. Nor did any demand the resignation of any of their colleagues in the bishops’ conference.”

Before continuing to present Manion’s article, we should consider this summary of the handling of the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in America as a scandal in itself. It shows the deep failure of the whole Church’s hierarchy, beginning at the top, to punish and eradicate abusers from the ranks of the clergy. It is heart-rending, especially considering the damage to so many souls. (In the new Austrian scandal, there is one woman who was sexually harassed by a priest. He is still active, even though he left his parish. She has now left the Faith, blaming the priest and his responsible bishop, Alois Schwarz.)

Continuing with Manion’s history of the abuse scandal in the U.S., in June of 2002, when meeting in Dallas, the U.S. bishops were confronted with an article that showed that half of them had been involved in the cover-up of abuse cases. “Thus, when they issued their ‘Protection’ charter,” Manion says, “they exempted themselves on national TV and went home to circle the wagons. Not one [of them] quit (Cardinal Law, now deceased, fled to Rome).” One wonders why Cardinal Law was even received in Rome.

Concerning Rome, Manion reveals the painful fact that McCarrick received from Pope John Paul II the red hat, in spite of the fact that by then, there was sufficient information sent to Rome against such a decision. Manion writes:

Another prelate attending the meetings in Rome and Dallas 2002 was Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In his previous posts in Newark and Metuchen, he had already privately settled two lawsuits involving his sexual assaults on adult males. Rod Dreher reports that a group of Catholics had gone [in 2000] to Rome to warn the Pope about McCarrick – to no avail: Pope John Paul appointed him archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000, and named him a cardinal the following year.

It is after this painful description of sustained unworthy conduct, in light of a history of many cover-ups, that Manion calls for the resignation of every single bishop who was somehow involved in it. After first quoting a Jesuit who explains that “[b]ishops do not fraternally correct one another, because they do not want to be fraternally corrected,” he asks, “So what is to be done?”

Now is the time. The laity has to set those wagons on fire. The bishops have followed Ben Franklin’s adage – “either we hang together, or we hang separately.”

Enough! Every bishop who covered up for McCarrick and other abusers so they could all stay in power has to quit – right now. Their credibility is shredded – why do they stay?

In light of these strong and much needed words from a veteran journalist who has witnessed the last decades of episcopal failure with regard to the abuse crisis, it is noteworthy that now one of the victims of Cardinal McCarrick speaks up in public, for the New York Times. In that article, the New York Times refers to Boniface Ramsey as another source – a priest who now reveals that he had, early on in 2000, warned Rome about McCarrick. With this revelation, we shall end this piercing report:

At least one priest warned the Vatican against the appointment [of McCarrick]. The Rev. Boniface Ramsey said that when he was on the faculty at the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in New Jersey from 1986 to 1996, he was told by seminarians about Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual abuse at the beach house. When Archbishop McCarrick was appointed to Washington, Father Ramsey spoke by phone with the pope’s representative in the nation’s capital, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio, and at his encouragement sent a letter to the Vatican about Archbishop McCarrick’s history. Father Ramsey, now a priest in New York City, said he never got a response.

Update: In light of the serious effects this McCarrick case has had on many Catholic faithful in the U.S., we shall quote here the witness of Bart Aslin, a former priest who left the priesthood because of this scandal:

    “The things I witnessed in the seminary and as a priest ultimately led me to leave the priesthood after five years. It was the hypocrisy of McCarrick and my fellow (gay) priests that led me to leave. In some ways, I was forced out because I did not fit the mold of a Newark diocesan priest. It was difficult enough to live a celibate life, but knowing that my ‘brothers in Christ’ were not following the Church’s teachings caused me great strife and spiritual pain. […]
    “I conclude by saying that it pains me that the Church took over 30 years to remove this reprehensible man. They knew all about his actions and turned a blind eye. I observe each Sunday how few young people and families attend Mass. Is there no wonder? The sin and hypocrisy of its servants has turned off and away its people. How the Lord must weep!”

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