Tag Archives: Catholic Church

McCarrick and the Chi-comms

I am still sick from this one.

Teddy McCarrick, AKA “Uncle Ted” was apparently behind the recent actions of the Holy See to “normalize” relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Here’s what it means in a nutshell.  The Vatican will recognize those men as valid bishops who were selected by the PROC/Communist Party.

Great.

stan

Blessed Mother, Christ Child, and Zechariah Church of St. Anne, Kaufman, TX

To say nothing of the underground Catholic Church in China and the sacrifices so many of these good and faithful sons and daughters of the Church have made; we can chalk this up to another of the consequences of Francis being “advised” by the former cardinal and current reprobate McCarrick.

I have a niece who was born in Beijing.  The one-child policy of that evil regime led to her being abandoned.  My sister adopted her.  She has brought love and joy into our lives for these past 20 years and I cannot imagine not having her around.  She learned the Catholic faith in the United States.  McCarrick was archbishop when my sister brought her home to us.

But these are the people we trust to appoint OUR bishops.  And this sort of begs the question; if a government (an officially atheistic communist one at that!) can choose our bishops, why can’t the people of, say, Newark have a say in who should shepherd them?  If a few of my boys on Bloomfield Ave. got together and selected one of our hometown priests and sent the name to Francis; do you think he’d approve?

My niece did NOT crawl out of mainland China for this nonsense.

More betrayal from the political pope and his cronies.

When will it end?

Side note: I started a “shred” diet this morning.  I’ve been working out like a beast the past year or so.  It’s both a hobby of mine (similar to writing) and a health-quest.  After two spinal fusion surgeries, this 40 year-old dad wants to be around and in good shape for his wife and kids for a while.  Maybe I’ll even attempt quitting smoking again.  Some day.  In the meantime, my second meal of the day (out of 6) was a piece of baked tilapia and a bowl of unflavored oatmeal.

Lucky me.

Pray for the Church (and for me).

Advertisements

They’re Everywhere: More of the McCarrick Mess

One of the things that has been bothering me this past “Summer of Hell” for the Catholic Church – my Catholic Church – is the utter mischaracterization by many in the mainstream press of the true nature of the problem.  Noted psychotherapist (former priest) Richard Sipe nailed it.  He identified the problem long ago as a problem of homosexual predation – that is, sexual predation on young men, post-puberty, by priests and, very importantly, bishops, of a homosexual nature.  The data is clear.  The sexual crimes and sins being committed are rooted in same-sex attraction.  YES, there are priests who have abused women.  YES, there are abuse victims who are under the age of legal majority.  But the overwhelming majority of victims have been post-pubescent males.  We’re talking about physically mature men being sought out by older men.  I would say let’s take the criminal element off the table but we can’t.  ANYTIME someone abuses another person of any gender should be considered criminal, though the law has not always treated it as such.  But to get to the root of the problem we face now we must have the courage to admit that the victims are mostly the same sex as the predators.  When we admit this we can then see that the there is a pool of potential victims in the seminaries of the Catholic Church.

dunstan

The Seven Sacraments. Stained Glass, Cathedral Basilica of St. Dunstan, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

At this moment I could identify to you several priests who are actively engaged in homosexual relationships with other men – priests and laymen.  If the “partners” are over 18 and have consented then there is no crime.  The hierarchy hide behind this. Even if there is a crime they run out the clock on the statute of limitations. This is why the bishops are careful to craft their “response” as dealing with sexual abuse of “young people and vulnerable adults”.  Do they ever consider seminarians “vulnerable”?  Nope.  Look, there’s so much going on here that it’s hard to sort it out.  And yet it always comes back to this.  There has been for at least fifty years a cadre, a cabal, a current of same-sex-attracted men engaging in homosexual acts with other men and doing so from the other side of a Roman collar.  This ought to concern every faithful Catholic.  While the Western world currently holds as a bigot anyone who dares to claim the thousands’ year old belief that homosexuality is an intrinsically disordered condition; the Catholic Church has always held to this belief.  I’m not asking you to believe what I just stated at its core.  But you cannot deny that the Church has always taught this.  Moving on from here we encounter brazen hypocrisy at best.

Sipe, who died literally as this summer was breaking open with its ghoulish revelations of the McCarrick’s and Wuerl’s of the world and their “misdeeds”, believed it.  He knew what the problem was.  His answer, his solution, was not the one I would have proposed.  He thought that things would be better if we just got it out in the open and allowed priests and laymen to be practitioners of a “normalized” homosexuality.  But he never denied that the problem in the Church was rooted in the same homosexuality.

So let’s talk about that school where I worked.  Remember that I’m not using names.  Here’s the story.  From the time I was in college seminary I belonged to the Knights of Columbus.  I had been told by my rector that it was a good thing to belong because they gave financial support to seminarians.  Indeed, over the few years I was active I did receive a few hundred dollars and I was most appreciative.  In my time at this particular council I had the opportunity to bring my dad and several brothers-in-law into the group.  For Dad, just having retired, it was a great social group and he would bring me with him on occasional Friday nights to have a beer at the bar with the guys.  During our conversations the members, who all belonged to the attached parish, talked frequently and in very hostile tones about one of the young priests who had recently been assigned to that parish.  The long and short of it?  This guy was bad news.  They all knew he had abused a few young men. They knew he had been removed from the parish.  They knew that he came from a wealthy family.  And they knew that the whole thing had been hushed up by the archdiocese.

When I say “they knew” I’m using their words.  I had no proof nor did they except what everyone had heard.  Remember how when the McCarrick mess first broke everyone said “we all knew”… but no one would tell.  Enough of that bullshit.

These men were typical in many ways.  When you think of blue collar, Jersey guys you’d think of them.  They were mad as hell when they talked about this priest.  And they were mad as hell that nothing could be done about him.  They spoke as if they knew the victims because they probably did.  They wanted to fight but couldn’t.

After I left the seminary and subsequently left the TV industry I started teaching in a Catholic high school.  Guess who I encountered.  Right there.  Teaching.  As a priest amidst 800 boys between the ages of 14 and 18.  If I told you that the diocesan administrator of schools was of a similar ilk would you be surprised?  We know the archbishop was into dudes.  The head of the schools office, if he wasn’t gay, was a very convincing actor.  And I am NOT trying to imply that every gay man wants to rape teenage boys.  What I am trying to do is draw the picture for you.  These men entered priesthood knowing they were gay, hiding that fact, and, never intending to live their commitment to celibacy, established a network where they would get their jollies and cover for each other.  They protected each other.  They lied.  They committed demonic acts.  They abused everyone in their path who didn’t agree with them and that went for those who favored more traditional liturgical practices as well as those who’s view of marriage and family stopped at mother/father/children.  Are you starting to understand what the term “Lavender Mafia” means now?  And no, lifting the celibacy requirement for Roman priests will not address this problem.  When was the last time that encouraging a gay man to marry a woman changed his orientation?

Look, draw your own conclusions.  I know what I heard.  I remember the things I saw.  And I will no longer pretend it didn’t happen/isn’t happening nor will I remain silent out of fear that people wouldn’t believe.

Pray for the Church.

By Extension: How Other Areas of Church Governance were Affected by the Evil McCarrick

I feel like a dam that has just burst.  Things I have been holding in the back of my mind for years are suddenly finding themselves in need of being spewed forth.

In the coming days I will be recounting how the evil that was tolerated and even encouraged by Teddy McCarrick extended itself to other areas of the Church.

Do not think, though, that McCarrick was an isolated incident.  The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report showed us the depths of diabolical depravity in but one state, or rather “commonwealth” in deference to my family and friends in the Great Keystone.  PA is one out of 50 states.  Donald Wuerl still clings to power in the “51st”, that is, in the District of Columbia.  I noticed today on Twitter that my hero-reporter George Neumayr is following some kind of lead involving RICO violations…  Go, George, go!  PLEASE, consider donating to help fund his cause.  I have, and it is well worth it.

holy ghost

Pieta, the Mother and her Son; Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Denver

But let’s return to the Archdiocese of Newark for a moment.  And let’s return to me where I left off.  After I was booted from the seminary I had no earthly idea what I was going to do.  I simply knew that this was, in some peaceful way, God’s will for me.  It was awful and it was terrible the way they did it but somehow I felt that I would be OK.  Unfortunately I also felt extraordinarily lost.  I had majored in Religious Studies in college and was now a few credits short of a Master’s Degree in Systematic Theology.  Not thinking I would ever do anything other than be a Catholic priest, I was at a complete loss as to how to go about finding work.  My parents, God bless them, took me in and supported me until I got on my feet.  For a few months I wasn’t sure when that would be or even how.  Finally I landed a job as a trainee in the newsroom of the local Fox station in New York.  Before I wanted to be a priest I wanted to be a news anchor.  This, despite the minimum wage pay and long hours, was a dream come true for me.  I got to work alongside real New York news anchors who knew my name and liked my work.  I got to show my skills in writing and producing features segments.  I got to forget about the seminary for a little while.

And I continued in that field on and off for the next few years.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw my name in the credits of a TV show.  It was so exciting.  But that’s a completely different story.  We’ll leave that one for the book.

There came a time when I realized, through Mom’s gentle guidance, that I wanted to be a teacher.  I remember her saying one day “Hey, you wanted to be a teacher, right?” and me replying “Lady, I thought I asked you to quit smoking crack.”  Unfazed, she said in return “Good, there’s an opening at a local Catholic high school.”  I figured “why not?” and faxed a resume.  No one was more surprised than I to receive a phone call twenty minutes later requesting an interview the next day.  I was even more surprised when I walked out of that interview with a signed contract.

For the record I taught Theology in Catholic high schools for the news 12 years.  I recently got out (another story for the book).  But boy I’d love to talk about some of the strange goings-on in that large archdiocesan high school.  I’m leaning in close now…  Wanna’ hear?

As I wrap this up, it is after midnight on a Sunday.  I’m still a practicing Roman Catholic.  There’s mass in the morning.  Remember that obligation thing they stopped teaching about for a few decades?  Some of us didn’t.  I will pray for each of you as I offer my intentions before the holy sacrifice.  And then we’re taking Mom to a drive-thru safari in East Texas.  She’s heading home in a few days and we’re a little sad but this promises to be a fun day.

Pray for the Church.

More Memories of the McCarrick System: Evil from the Top Down

I have to thank all of you who have read my recent posts and shared your thoughts and comments, showing incredible support.  It is the kind of support I wish I had found years ago.  I always had it from my family and loved ones.  They knew the truth.  Yet we were all powerless.  We would begin to tell but found our words falling on deaf ears.  The mindset that “these priests were ‘nice’ guys” was so pervasive.  Newsflash: ‘nice’ ain’t gonna get you to heaven.  The late Cardinal O’Connor of New York said he wanted to be remembered as a ‘good’ priest.  Would that we had more of them now.  And we do still have many.  I pray that no one reads my accounts and thinks there is nothing but evil and malfeasance in the Church.  But they wanted to protect the image of the Church, they say.  Great.  Let’s start by promoting and protecting the true image of the Church.

First and foremost that image is the crucifix.  The God who created and sustains the universe, in an act of supreme condescension, took on our nature and allowed Himself to be put to death for us.  It’s not surprising that so many in that crowd wanted crucifixes removed from churches.

Then there is the image of a man like Agustine who shows forth God’s forgiveness and mercy.  There’s the image of Anthony who preached emphatically, testifying to the Truth with such grace that even fish in the sea listened to him.  There’s the image of Mary MacKillop who exposed sexual abuse and suffered excommunication for it.  There’s the image of Teresa of Calcutta who cradled the dying leper out of love for Christ.

There’s the image of my mom and dad who brought forth sixteen children despite being derided by men like Bergoglio as “breeding like rabbits”.

THIS is the Church.

But the Church is also the priest who visited me in the hospital at risk to his own future, the priest who serves tirelessly ministering to college students who have not been catechized and seek the Truth in a crazy world, the priest who answers the phone at midnight without hint of being annoyed because your 2 year-old niece has just drowned in a swimming pool.  There are so many more of these priests then there are bad bishops.

christ

Christ WILL come again… and I think He might be pissed. Window over choir loft, Co-cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston, TX

Stand up, then, and fight!  There’s a reason we have a male priesthood.  We men are, by nature, pugnacious.  We want to fight for and die for something greater than ourselves.  God called me to do this for my beautiful wife and our children.  Surely they can take care of themselves.  Anyone who knows my wife knows how lopsided our relationship is in terms of our ability to make a mark on the world and yet this is what God called me to do – to die for them.  Fathers, you love the Church.  FIGHT for her.  Tell your bishop when he is wrong.  Demand he resign when it is clear he let us down and covered up crimes.  Fight, dammit!

I just came from a baptism.  Clearly there are still new members coming into the Church.  In the rite, the deacon prayed that God would open the ears of the deaf and the mouths of the dumb.  We who were baptized possess this grace.  We need to use it.

Another painful memory that came to mind from my time in seminary was this.  In my first three years in the college seminary I had a spiritual director of my choosing.  I selected him because he seemed to me to be, well, pastoral.  He had been a parish priest for years and seemed to know what he was doing.  Toward the end of my three years as I was preparing to move on to the major seminary this man began pressuring me to spend time with him at his trailer up in the woods.  Unlike all those with beach houses, this man had a trailer in the woods in northwestern New Jersey.

Do you know what saved me?

I freakin hate the woods.

Never suspecting anything, I just kept telling him “No, Father, that’s OK.  I don’t do the woods.”  I can’t stress how much growing up in New Jersey has affected my soul and in this case it saved me.  He’d bring it up again and again.  Finally I said: “Listen, why on earth would I want to hang out at a trailer in the woods?  Mosquitos, heat… gross.  I’d prefer to stay in the city with the concrete and air conditioning and stuff.”  He countered, “I’m hurt.  I thought you liked me.”  I honestly believe I can just leave this story here.  Make of it what you will.  I think we all know where he wanted it to go so I don’t have to say it.  I can tell you that this same priest around the same time asked one of my nephews to come help at the rectory with the parish’s computers.  My nephew was a college student at the time and now works in IT.  During the course of his job that day the priest asked my nephew to look at his personal computer.  According to my nephew it took him all of a minute to discover the computer was running slowly because of the presence of gay porn on the hard drive.  He finished his job and left and NEVER returned.

I didn’t know that story until some time later.  But I think this is indicative of the kinds of things that were simply part of the culture in that diocese under McCarrick.  Did it go on longer than that, after he left?  Probably.  His successor didn’t seem too interested in much more than securing his retirement home.  Look it up.  But a fish rots from the head.  If the head is sane and sound and holy and healthy than the body will follow.  Think about it.

More to come.

Pray for the Church.

My Time in the Seminary of a Disgraced, Vile, and Evil Former Cardinal, Part 5: Crashing Down

I have thought long and hard about writing this story.

As in, I have thought about it for exactly 17 years…

I thought about it that morning – September 13, 2001 – but the smoke from the World Trade Center, still rising like a blackened pillar, the top drifting off over Brooklyn, distracted me as I drove down 280, home from the seminary.

I thought about it a few months later when I found myself working as a production assistant for the top-rated morning news program in New York.  The “Boston problem” and subsequent Long Lent had broken open and the assignment editor, having chatted with me about my recent past, thought it was a fascinating tale.  The executive producer, however, did not grasp the magnitude of that crisis and ran a segment on “the stripper workout” instead.  To his credit, I would much rather have watched our aging features report (gracefully aging, she was a dear woman) comedically wrap her legs around a metal pole at 7 o’clock in the morning than to hear this story.

I thought about it when I actually had a chance to tell it to someone I thought might be able to help.  One of the plentitude of auxiliary bishops in the Archdiocese of Newark had run into my mom at a parish function.  She was worn down.  Having lost three children in a housefire years earlier she would go on to tell me that what happened to me was worse for her because it struck at her faith.  The bishop asked her how I was doing.  He had been my college seminary rector and seemed unaware of my situation and wanted to meet with me.  I honestly believe now that he may have simply been looking to see if I was interested in a lawsuit.  He was not much help.  For the record, Dad never spoke much about it either.  I think he was sad for what happened to me.  But he had lived through so much in his time on earth, this was just one more nail in the cross.

And after that I never really thought about telling it much to anyone again.  I realized that no one would believe it.  It’s not that they would distrust my veracity but that the details were so incredulous.  Look, before this past summer if I had told you that a prominent cardinal of the Church had taken a seminarian to his secret pad on top of a hospital in Manhattan and made the young man don a sailor suit; would you have believed it?  That story is not mine but mine is equally as strange.

The Beginning of the End

window

Pope and cardinals, stained glass, Christ the King church, Dallas

Let me begin during the early summer of 2000.  I was between First and Second Theology.  Teddy McCarrick hosted a cookout every year for all the seminarians.  He called us his sons.  We’ve since learned that he called some his “nephews”.  We gathered for mass in the CYO center and then adjourned to the back lawn for hot dogs and hamburgers.  McCarrick, like the consummate room-worker he was, made the rounds to all the tables.  The man had a ton of seminarians.  There were the 25 or so guys from the college seminary, the 40-50 guys from the major seminary, and then there were the dozens from the archdiocesan mission seminary, Redemptoris Mater.  These were mostly foreign-born men who belonged to a group called the Neocatechumenal Way.  By some accounts of late, the mission seminary functioned as a sort of pipeline in the funneling of young men into the US.  Priesthood and favors for the bish in exchange for a green card.  THAT part of the story I had heard during my time in seminary, minus the sexual favors part.  We (the guys from the major seminary) all thought the guys from the mission seminary were here for purposes other than or in addition to ordination.  Statistically, many of them left the diocese within a few years of ordination anyway.

Being the smoker I was I got up from the picnic table and excused myself.  McCarrick knew I smoked.  He had called me on it before.  I never tried to hide it.  But I still didn’t know if I was allowed to smoke on these grounds and I didn’t want the hassle.  As I was walking toward my car a priest I had not met approached me.  He called me by name and made a bee line toward me.  “Going for a smoke?” he said.  “Yes I am,” I replied with confidence.

There was a brief silence.  And then:

“Mind if I join you?”

This man was the newly appointed vocations director for the archdiocese.  “How’d you know my name?” I asked as we walked around to hide behind the building like a couple of high school kids.  I flipped out my Zippo to light his cigarette.  “I’m the vocations director,” he responded and told me that he had spent time looking over all the files.  “Figured there had to be another smoker in this crowd.”  A headshot of each seminarian was in his file.  He matched my face to my picture.  He had read my psychologicals and thought I’d be a down-to-earth, thoughtful, and fun person to talk with.  In other words, “I could tell you weren’t on the puritanical bastards.”  And before you get crazy over his language keep in mind we talk differently in New Jersey and this was two grown men speaking to each other on a sort of equal footing.  I had, after all, just provided him with a smoking buddy.  He hated these functions (as did I) and we did enjoy our conversation that afternoon.  I told him how odd all of this was since the previous two vocations directors didn’t seem to know much about me at all.  They were pure numbers guys in my view.  But this guy was different.  He had been taken from a parish and put into this role with no experience.

We became friends, he and I.  Truly friends.  I think he saw me as a connection to information about what was going on in the seminary.  The rector apparently wouldn’t share much with him.  He also saw me as someone he could trust if he had questions about the new guys and how they were doing.  I enjoyed having a priest to talk to who truly seemed to get parish life.  He was holy, practical, and fun to hang out with.  The priests in the seminary had little to no parish experience.  He got to know my family, came to the house often.  He and I would grab dinner at a typical Jersey Italian restaurant.  In short, this was a good friendship and I came to value his advice not only as vocations director but as a friend.

From him I learned interesting tidbits.  Not really gossip but stuff that I had never heard that was apparently common knowledge.  Again, I never heard about the beach house or the sex with seminarians thing.  No, I learned instead that when Bishop Edward Egan of Bridgeport, CT was appointed to New York following the death of John Cardinal O’Connor, Teddy McCarrick was “moping around the chancery for a couple of days, depressed.”  He had thought that was his next assignment.  He really wanted a red hat.  I also learned what life was like a decade earlier when he was in the same seminary.  From him I learned about McCarrick’s close friendship with billionaire Leona Helmsley.  And from him I also learned what how fear can grip even the most stalwart of hearts and induce a man to abandon his friendship…

*This is a blog post and I think 1200 words is sufficient for the moment.  Shall I call the next one “Part 5-B?”  I promise if you agree to read on I will have the next installment up tomorrow.  Please leave a comment if you feel inclined and share this blog with your friends.

My Time in the Seminary of a Disgraced, Vile, and Evil Former Cardinal, Part 4

I just read an article this evening by Elizabeth Bruenig, an opinion columnist at the Washington Post.  It’s the story of a young man who went through the same seminary as I did.  He was ordained a priest by Theodore McCarrick, and ultimately left the priesthood.  He was one of Uncle Ted’s sexual abuse victims.

Read more there

The story made me incredibly sad and incredibly angry at the same time.

That man, Michael Reading, could have been me or any of my friends.  Kudos to Bruenig for getting that story.  And kudos to George Neumayr of American Spectator for the incredible work he’s been doing.  At times, I feel like he’s a lone voice in the wilderness.  He’s doing what we used to call reporting.  If you are able, please consider contributing to fund his investigative efforts as I did.

One thing in that article that brought it home to me so immediately was the following line.

“But McCarrick’s demeanor made [Fr. Boniface] Ramsey ill at ease. “He used nicknames,” Ramsey said, “even if he didn’t know you so well. He called me Bonny. It was an almost unconscious exercise of power. . . . It felt condescending.”

Teddy McCarrick sure did like his nicknames.  Almost from the first moment I met him in my parish sacristy he addressed me by a nickname and that nickname remained with me until the last time I spoke with him.  He was beyond the shadow of a doubt on a power trip.  We were told that it was how he remembered everyone’s name.  In other words, this was a trick that important people made use of and we were to admire it and even try to emulate it if we were so “gifted”.

To that I say, recalling my Jersey roots: “Fuck off, Teddy.”

basilica chapel

Chapel of Our Lady of Grace, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark

Speaking of New Jersey, boy was that man diabolical in going after the victims he chose.  I say “speaking of Jersey” because he’s lucky no one ever once let loose on him the way my homies in Newark were famous for. To start with, we were all men.  No grown man wants to ever admit that another man has sexually assaulted him.  He picked men over whom he had ecclesial power.  Most of the men in that situation would go on to say “He had my ordination in his hands.  Who could I have told?”  I can’t judge them except to say that it’s beyond unfortunate that they didn’t think of the other men he would assault made possible by everyone’s silence.

Then again, remember… I was a smoker.  Even though I didn’t know it, he was never coming after me.  I can’t repeat this line enough to you.  Raping your subordinates is cool but lighting a fag is gross.  But as you will see when I tell you how it all ended for me, God granted me courage when I needed it.  In the end, I DID stand up to these men and it cost me dearly.  It also proved to be the greatest blessing I could have imagined.  More on that later.

For now, let me recount another in the string of bizarre incidents I witnessed as a seminarian.

By November of my first year in the major seminary I had settled in.  I was doing well in all my classes, had made friends with my classmates, and had truly gotten used to the idea of becoming a priest.  This was made easier by the fact that men in major seminaries are required to wear the Roman collar, that is, to dress like priests.

One man with whom I had become friends was a former naval psyche nurse.  He had served in the First Gulf War.  He was from a diocese on Long Island.  I never questioned why he had come all the way over to New Jersey to study.  I discovered a few years earlier that, for some men, choosing a diocese was an ongoing game of finding out who had the best offers.  For instance, this diocese gave you health insurance and a stipend, that diocese would forgive your student loans.  And then again some men just didn’t get along with their own bishop or the priests in their diocese.  This particular man was funny, thoughtful, and indeed possessed of a personal holiness.  I suspected he was gay but that he didn’t act on it.  I also suspected he might just be slightly effeminate.  I did not know but I didn’t spend much time wondering.  We had been conspicuously taught that it didn’t matter what your orientation was because we were all called to be celibate.  Of course, almost no one was living that way as it turns out.  In any event, this man and I got along great and I had a high regard for him.

One afternoon I returned from class to find a notice on the board.  “All First Theologians are to report to the second floor lounge in full clerics for a meeting with Archbishop McCarrick at 3PM today.”

No one had any clue why.

After lunch and some downtime I headed with my 10 classmates to the lounge.  We sat around waiting a few minutes.  My friend seemed anxious.  And then McCarrick entered the room.  We all rose out of respect for his office.  Then we took our seats.  He proceeded to give us a talk.  He spent about five minutes saying that “These things are terrible when they happen to anyone but that they also build strength and especially among a group of men.”  I distinctly remember him saying “Still, it’s a hell of a thing to have to go through.”

And then he left.

I looked around and realized that everyone was as confused as I was.  “What the hell was he talking about?” I asked.  No one knew.  Except my friend.  I turned to see him with his head down, sobbing.  Listen, my mother raised me to be compassionate.  It’s in my nature.  I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done.  If I see you in that kind of state I’m going to do what I did next.  I walked over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said “I don’t know what just happened but it obviously happened to you.  I’m so sorry for you.  Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.”  Then he stood up and we hugged.

He was gone that night.

True to his thoughtful nature, I still received a birthday card from him every year for several years running.  I reached out but never heard from him other than those cards.  I pray for him still.  All I could ever surmise based on some other clues was that this man, perhaps due to his mannerisms and build, had been abused in some sexual way by other seminarians.  McCarrick’s answer was to come in like a tornado and quash the hint of scandal, tell us we were all a band of brothers and we’d get through it, and then leave.  Whether my friend left on his own or was forced out I can’t say.

And after reading what I just wrote, reliving that meeting for the first time in many years in my mind, the feelings I have for McCarrick now border on hate.

More to come.

Pray for the Church

My time in the Seminary of a Disgraced, Vile, and Evil Ex-Cardinal, Part 3: The Lineup

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.

IMG_1404

“Suffer the children to come unto me.”  Stained glass, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Newark, NJ

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.