I spoke on the phone this evening with my best friend. He’s a bright spot in all of this. We met on our first day in the college seminary. He has been there for me for the better part of 21 years. We speak at least once a week for long phone calls usually when we’re both driving.
He was from a different diocese in New Jersey. Our seminary was a property of the Archdiocese of Newark where I was from. So whenever the Archbishop of Newark, Uncle Ted, came to visit even the guys from other dioceses had to take part in whatever event was going on.
My friend and I remarked that we had both come to realize so many things that we thought insignificant now had such different meaning in light of this summer’s revelations.
And then he reminded me of one such practice that I had forgotten (because it didn’t seem out of the ordinary when you don’t suspect your bishop is a predator).
“Whenever McCarrick would come to the house,” my buddy said to me, “do you remember that we all had to line up so he could ‘greet’ us?”
I thought for a second.
“Yeah, I do remember that now that you mention it. It was kind of like a receiving line,” I said.
“But every time?” he added.
“My God you’re right!” I said.
And then both of us were silent for a moment until he shot back with:
“McCarrick had us in a lineup. That sick sonofabitch was scoping us.”
If you think I’m reading more into seemingly innocent things than should be read consider what I said. Men like Teddy McCarrick apparently operated in such a way as to fool those who did not suspect his nefarious ways. I clearly remember those “lineups” and some of the comments he would make as he went from seminarian to seminarian shaking our hands. “You’re looking well? Working out more these days?” or “Ah, growing a beard I see. I’ve never been fond of facial hair.” or “Are you one of mine [studying for the Archdiocese]? I feel like you should be.”
These memories are the ones that make me cringe the most because they make me realize that he was on the prowl 24/7. We were never safe. We thought, at 19 years of age that we were grown men who were making a huge sacrifice with the rest of our lives. What we were was pawns in a perverted chess game.
Pray for the Church.