In a statement issued today, the D.C. Archdiocese has given an update on the status of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick:
In late July 2018, our Holy Father Pope Francis requested that Archbishop Theodore McCarrick withdraw from all public ministry and events. To that end, Archbishop McCarrick now resides at St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas in the Diocese of Salina, with the permission of the Provincial Superior of the Franciscan Capuchin Community responsible for the Friary, Fr. Christopher Popravak, O.F.M.Cap., and the Bishop of Salina, Most Reverend Gerald Vincke.
Out of consideration for the peace of the community at St. Fidelis Friary, respect for the privacy of this arrangement is requested.
The revelation that McCarrick is living at St. Fidelis prompted a number of observers on social media to note that this friary is directly adjacent to an elementary school. So I looked it up:
Google Maps gives us the proximity to not just an elementary, but a high school:
Google Street View makes even clearer that the friary – part of the cathedral – is literally a stone’s throw from the elementary school.
Laws vary from state to state on how close sex offenders can live to schools. I was unable to find anything definitive in Kansas law from recent years, but a 2013 article reported that some Kansans were fighting to protect their children because no such law was, at that time, on the books.
Not that it would matter. McCarrick is not a convicted sex offender.
Nothing is disclosed about his living arrangements, his mobility, or the kind of supervision he is under. But to the people who attend the cathedral, or who send their children to Victoria Elementary, I can’t imagine there’s much comfort to be found in any of those arrangements. McCarrick is a monster and, unless I’ve missed a story about him having a come-to-Jesus moment, an unrepentant one. I don’t want him in my backyard, next to my school, or living in my parish basement. I want him in a cell block.
I’m not here to assert certainty that he poses any immediate danger to children in this scenario. But how can we be sure? And who in his right mind thought this was a good idea, even for appearance’s sake? Church leadership prove, again and again, that they don’t get it. They don’t understand how upset we are about the danger they have consistently exposed our children to by moving predators to new places, crossing their fingers really hard, and hoping they don’t do anything evil again.
This isn’t good enough. The man should be living out a life of true isolation in prayer and penance without questions like this ever being something we need to ask.
UPDATE: News is also breaking this morning that Francis has at last laicized Fr. Fernando Karadima, the priest at the center of the Chilean sex abuse scandal that has marred the pontificate and led to the ouster of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno. Karadima was removed from ministry in 2011 but was, according to reports, finally reduced to the lay state “for the good of the Church.”
When will McCarrick get the same treatment? We’re waiting.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.