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On Reporting Truth to Power: George Neumayr, the McCarrick Mess, and Where Is Everybody?

A friend who is a priest recently wrote me. I had shared an article by George Neumayr on my socials. This friend laid out a very thoughtful rebuke of this particular article. In short, he felt that the article – detailing Neumayr’s investigation into Cardinal Tobin of Newark and the potential object of his “mis-sent” “Nighty Night Baby” tweet – and Neumayr’s conclusions were simply implausible. I won’t detail where our conversation ultimate went for reasons of confidentiality.

However, the exchange got me thinking about something I’ve been saying for a month or more. Neumayr appears to be the only journalist in the world seeking answers to questions any journalist should be asking regarding the crisis in the Church. If you don’t know, Neumayr is an editor of The American Spectator who also does investigative reporting on this current mess. He is fearless, fair, and frank.

Look, I worked in news. I have a good sense of what’s what. I am a writer and I appreciate his style. As a Catholic who lived through McCarrick I greatly appreciate the work Neumayr is doing because I want to know the truth.

As I explained to my friend, a few months ago I don’t think any of us would have believed the things we now know to be true about our hierarchy.

My gut (and my head informed by experience) are guiding me in discerning all that is being reported and I find George’s reporting to be accurate.

I currently work as a courier while I take a brief break from the world of educational administration. Today I got slammed with work (not a bad thing). I live in the DFW area and got a midday call for a drive to east Texas. Five hours later I returned to the office where I was given my next job – an overnight drive to west Texas. Here I sit in the parking lot of American Airlines Priority Parcel Service facility at DFW Airport waiting for the place to open so I can tender this medical shipment and head home.

It is almost 4:30 AM.

The good news in all of this is that I finally got the chance to listen (on Audible) to all of Neumayr’s book The Political Pope. If you have not read it and are dying to know about the motivation behind Francis’ actions then check it out. The book is well sourced, well written, and a real eye-opener. Even I, who did not think I could be shocked by much of anything the current Bishop of Rome has done found myself shouting out “WHAT?!” more than once while driving through a driving rain in the dark on a west Texas interstate.

Trust me, it’s so much better than the AM band in the middle of nowhere.

The only thing I need to add is this plea to the author.

Mr. Neumayr, please consider me for voice talent on your next audio book. Not only have I worked in the field doing announcements for a local station in Florida (the wonders of MP3’s and a solid internet connection) but I possess a solid, smooth, and sure set of pipes.

Also, I wouldn’t repeatedly mispronounce the name of my friend and fellow Christendom College alum Mike Hichborn. 😎

And to my readers, once you’ve listened to or read the book or even and especially before you do, go make a donation to Neumayr’s journalism fund so he can keep doing his good work.

Pray for the Church.

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When Everything Goes Awry

Until recently this blog was all about my life as a dad in a Catholic household with a beautiful wife and two young kids (and an ill-tempered terrier).  As the need arises, and as my life wends on the path of inexorability, I also write about other things such as politics and the current crisis in the Church as they are places intersected by the life I lead.  In these instances it seems, rather, that God has steered the life I attempt to live into the paths of several oncoming trains that either inhabit that world (to my chagrin) or that I encountered (and that I disembarked) decades ago.

Confused?  Yeah, me too.  Stick with me.

Basically, tonight I just want to write about my life tonight.  It’s not glamorous but it’s mine and I kind of like it.  And to those of you who have started following because of the other recent topics I ask that you read this too and let me know if you like it.  And I thank you for your patronage.

Many of you know that I currently work full-time as a medical courier.  It’s what I’m doing at the moment.  After leaving the seminary I had a brief career as a television producer.  Then I entered the world of teaching and thought that would be my life.  I didn’t choose teaching, rather it chose me as they say.  After fighting it for a couple of years I gave up and realized that I 1) was good at it and 2) liked it.  A lot.  It was always about the kids.  They were wonderful and I was blessed to be part of their lives.  Then I moved into school administration.  Unfortunately right out of the gate I encountered a toxic work environment and, never having quit a job in my life, resigned that position.  God, in His providence, provided a job for me where I never had even a day-long gap in my employment.

I enjoy doing this but I know it’s not long-term.  And the devil (he’s real, you know) gets to me every now and then.  He’s constantly reminding me of my insecurities.  I look around and see all my friends successful, happy, and making lots of money.  Me?  Well one out of three ain’t bad.  See, the devil knows I want success and who couldn’t be happy being able to say he earns a good salary?  I have to keep reminding myself that I chose this career path by my actions and that God will again provide a path.  Right now I can’t decide if I should return to teaching, go after administration again, or try to make a go with a job in writing or marketing.  When I think about it I have a solid skillset.  I just haven’t had to look for work outside of a classroom in so long that I don’t know quite what I’m doing.  It’s humbling to admit that but I can do it.  I’d love to know that I could find something easily and walk into a job making at least what I was making as a teaching (which, believe it or not, wasn’t that bad).  Time will tell if I end up a mental case or land that job.  Prayers are always appreciated.

But here’s what happened in my current job tonight…

I typically work on-call from 4PM until midnight.  This makes it hard to spend time with the kids but I make every sacrifice I can.  It also makes it hard to visit much with my wife but I try.  It does afford me plenty of time to pray – the rosary and/or a series of Memorare’s and litany of the saints are a common theme in my car.  Actually the past few months have been quiet in this field.  Today, however, the DFW area was slammed with torrential rains.  When your job involves tendering and recovering sensitive medical parcels from a major airport, rain can spell disaster.  Lightning threats close the “ramp” which means nothing moves and you get stuck waiting in the cargo facility for hours.  Packages get left by the airline crews in puddles requiring repackaging and more dry ice which means extra travel and time.

Around 9PM tonight I got a call that a package needed to be recovered, opened, and photographed.  There was a question about how much dry ice was on hand.  This meant waiting for a termination letter to be faxed to the cargo office.  And that took over an hour.  To give you an idea how the weather affected everyone’s day, at one point in my night at cargo one of the workers slammed down his phone and shouted “Dammit, they lost that dog we were looking for!”  They ship animals, you know, and the animals take priority over just about anything else.  Then he added “It’s a service dog!”

Think about that.

They lost a service dog.

I immediately doubled over in laughter along with the other five people in the building.  Losing a service dog means that said service dog had to have been forcibly separated from his master who, presumably, needed his assistance to board the plane.  Also, service animals are allowed by law to fly in the cabin, not the hold.  Somebody screwed up big time.  And how did the passenger deplane?  Perhaps some other passenger lent him a therapy peacock to guide the way.

The other thing that really shot my night to hell was the realization that I would not be able to work out tonight.  As mentioned, most nights have been slow lately.  I’ve taken to scheduling my time at the gym around 9PM.  I work out with a buddy of mine.  Weightlifting has really become a passion of mine and I’m making incredibly progress.  I benched 190 the other night and not just a max rep but three sets of 6-8.  I’m impressed even if no one else is.  It’s become such a thing for me that I get pissed when my gym time gets scuttled.

As I was moping to myself about not lifting I glanced down at the scale where packages get weighed and got an idea.

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That’s right, there, right on the side of the scale were two 30 lb. weights used to calibrate the scale.  Didn’t take me long before I was using them as kettlebells.  A few sets completed and I jumped in whole hog.  By the time I was on the floor doing sets of push-ups the cargo manager instructed me to stop because it was late and I was making them feel “lazy” and “gross”.  OK, so not a complete workout but anything is better than nothing.  Good thing I didn’t bust out the jumprope.  And I guess that’s something I can be thankful for during this time of uncertainty; and that is that I’ve finally gotten myself in the kind of shape I’ve always wanted to be in.  It’s taken time but I’m pleased with my results.  And I’m happy to be enjoying good health right now.  So, praised be to God, right?

As I drove home from the airport at 11:30 thinking of all these things and wondering what the next step for me will be I remembered to say a few more prayers.  Can’t hurt, right?  And I ask each of you reading this to say one or two for me as well.  In the meantime I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing – being a dad in a Catholic household with a beautiful wife, two young kids, and an ill-tempered terrier.  And I will be loving it all.

*I’ve got a few more McCarrick/seminary stories left to post.  Stay tuned and as always…

Pray for the Church.

And please continue to read and to share my blog.  I don’t get paid to write but it is gratifying to know that people think enough of my work to recommend it to a friend.

I Am the Man Who Propelled Cory Booker to Prominence and I Apologize to Judge Kavanaugh

Changing gears for a moment from my “coverage” of the current crisis in the Church (Joe Tobin, I thought I asked you repeatedly to resign) to the world of politics.  For I am, as I have always maintained, the most interesting and well-connected man you’ve never heard of who also lacks connections.

Watching the confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh last week I was struck by the arrogance of a man I have come to loathe.  That man is New Jersey’s junior senator Cory Booker.

Booker grandstanded against the honorable Kavanaugh about his high school beer drinking and alleged sexual assault of a woman who cannot recall a single detail of said assault with certainty.  In fact, one of the biggest laughs during her testimony came when she stated that the “beach people” urged her to report the incident to the media.  After I used the same line in a Facebook post yesterday – “The beach people have instructed me to lift weights without a spotter” – a friend commented that I should probably stop using drugs on the beach.

But let’s circle back to the sanctimonious Booker for a moment.  I grew up in the city of Newark, NJ.  I followed politics very closely then as I do now.  For twenty years the city was governed by a man named Sharpe James.  Seriously.  Sharpe went on to serve time for corruption and it all appears to have been true.  He had his faults but he was a Newark kid who knew that all politics is local.  In 2002 James faced his first serious opposition in the young upstart Booker.  Booker hailed from one of the wealthiest (and whitest) parts of the state, Harrington Park, in Bergen County.  He rode into town as though he was a native.  That didn’t sit well with too many Brick City folk and he lost.  But he also had a film crew follow him for a documentary called Street Fight or Street Fighter or some such nonsense.

Four years later Booker won the mayor’s office and quickly proved that he didn’t know what the hell he was doing.

Remember the whole “all politics is local” thing?  Sharpe James knew enough to keep the streets plowed.  Booker didn’t.

bookerIn late December 2010 I was living in Northern Virginia when my sister texted me that her street still hadn’t been plowed two days after a major storm.  She needed diapers for her young son.  Through a series of tweets from my end, Cory Booker magically materialized at her door with diapers.  She took a picture of the two of them and I tweeted that too.  That night the picture and the story were on cable news, thanks in no small part to Booker’s PR people I am sure.

I wrote about my experience here.

In the original post I praised Booker as “awesome” more because he had mastered a new social media tool to communicate with constituents.  And yet I carefully pointed out that had he deployed a single plow it never would have come to that.

But I wasn’t the only one writing.

Many New York based outlets called me up and asked for interviews which I generously provided.  One source, the New York Post, actually got around to interviewing my sister.

You can read that account here.

The worst part of it is that no one outside of the Garden State had any real knowledge of Cory the Interloper until that picture went viral.  In so many ways I feel responsible for unleashing the guy on the national stage.  No tweet, no diapers.  No diapers, no photo-op.  No photo-op, no glowing press.  No glowing press, no rise to national prominence and a seat in the Senate.

“He’s a very nice man, but he isn’t a good mayor,” she added. “If he would have done his job, I would have been able to do for myself and gone out. It took three days for someone to come by with a plow the first time.” – My sister to the NY Post

And that’s where he sits today.  A man who admits in his own writings that he molested a drunk teenage girl when he was younger has the balls to sit in judgment of a man of Brett Kavanaugh’s character.

President Trump, in remarks about the Kavanaugh hearings earlier today, referred to Booker having “run Newark, NJ into the ground”.  Near as I can tell, Trump is right.  And again, this man dares to question the high school drinking of Judge Kavanaugh.

A few weeks ago Booker, eager to generate more headlines from a fawning mainstream media, had his “I am Spartacus” moment.  Buddy, you wouldn’t know Spartacus from a parking attendant at the Paramus Park Mall.  You are the furthest thing from genuine.  You were an inept mayor.  You’re a grandstanding senator of no consequence.

But next time you’re stuck in a socialist hell where YOUR streets don’t get plowed send me a tweet.  I’ll see if I can wrangle up some Depends for your sorry ass.

The Evil Former Cardinal in the Friary

At the blog OnePeterFive there’s an interesting piece.

It tells us where the former cardinal Uncle Ted McCarrick has landed.

Check out the article here.

In the meantime, can I just say how sick I am of this crap?  Theodore McCarrick has got to be one of the most evil men ever to rise the ranks of the Catholic episcopacy.  We know of his disgusting crimes and the horrifying effects his evil actions have had on the lives of so many men.  He has never publicly apologized for any of it.  The pope orders him to a life of “prayer and penance” and he moves into a mansion in a tony neighborhood of DC with a housekeeping staff.  Real penitential stuff.  The intrepid George Neumayr did the work every journalist should be doing (but isn’t) and tracks him down, demanding answers from the current archbishop, Cardinal Wuerl.  As payment for his efforts, George gets tailed by Wuerl’s hired goons, forbidden from worshipping at the Basilica of the National Shrine, and had his life turned upside down.

Where does McCarrick go?

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Close, no?

A friary.  But not just any friary, friends.  Archbishop Scuzzbucket (still not defrocked by Rome) finds himself literally on the doorstep of an elementary school!  A big WTF to all who were involved in this brilliant move.

And would anyone have made public mention of Uncle Ted’s whereabouts?  No.  We only get a press release from the Archdiocese of Washington when locals in Kansas reported having seen McCarrick on the grounds of the friary.

Pray for the Church.

And please consider donating to Neumayr’s GoFundMe.  I wish other reporters had his guts.

Vigano Speaks Again!

Archibishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former Apostolic Nuncio to the US, has just released a new testament following his earlier 11 page account that rocked the Catholic world.

Read it here.

A sample:

My decision to reveal those grave facts was for me the most painful and serious decision that I have ever made in my life. I made it after long reflection and prayer, during months of profound suffering and anguish, during a crescendo of continual news of terrible events, with thousands of innocent victims destroyed and the vocations and lives of young priests and religious disturbed. The silence of the pastors who could have provided a remedy and prevented new victims became increasingly indefensible, a devastating crime for the Church. Well aware of the enormous consequences that my testimony could have, because what I was about to reveal involved the successor of Peter himself, I nonetheless chose to speak in order to protect the Church, and I declare with a clear conscience before God that my testimony is true. Christ died for the Church, and Peter, Servus servorum Dei, is the first one called to serve the spouse of Christ.

The man speaks the truth.

I was one of those vocations destroyed.  And since God uses even sorrow and agony to bring about new life I have been blessed with an even more incredible life than I could have imagined in the persons of my wife and children and the thousands of young people to whom I have taught the Catholic faith over the years.

But McCarrick, Wuerl, even and especially Francis have so much to answer for…

The Pipeline: McCarrick’s Conduit to Hell

I took a few days off from writing.  My wife is out of town and I’ve had double-duty with the kids.  And then there’s the fact that I didn’t want to write this.  But I need to.  Keep in mind that everything I have written thus far has been a recollection of my memories and based on what I have heard first-hand.  Again, I am not using names (except McCarrick’s) because it’s not about the individual actors so much as the culture that thrived under McCarrick.  Let’s jump right into it then…

In April of 1996 I had already been accepted into the college seminary.  I was excited to be taking this big step and I knew I had the full support of my very large family.  My dad was about to turn 60 that year so we threw a little get-together at an Irish pub we sometimes frequented.  Given the relative small size of the Archdiocese of Newark and the proximity between where we lived, the seminary, and this restaurant; many who were associated with the seminary will know immediately where it is.

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Christ Crucified, Christ in the Tomb St. Mary’s Catholic Church Schulenburg, TX

One of the first things I was told by the vocations director was that I would need to select a spiritual director.  Never having had one before I wasn’t quite sure who to look for.  I chose a priest who had been ordained and assigned to my parish the previous year.  Our family had sort of adopted him in the way that many Catholic families used to do.  He came to our house frequently for dinner.  We chatted him up outside of mass.  We all liked the guy.

He had gone through that mission seminary I wrote about a few posts ago.  If you will recall, that seminary, as others have written, appears to have been part of a “pipeline” used by McCarrick to funnel questionable men into the United States.  No one was ever quite sure what their deal was.  A few years later when I was in the major seminary I witnessed firsthand that the guys from that seminary (who took their classes with us) really didn’t seem interested in becoming priests, certainly not for the archdiocese.  Many of them left the diocese and even the priesthood within a few years of ordination.  We used to joke that they were only in it for the green card.  As others have suggested it now appears that passage to the States was what McCarrick promised them in exchange for favors.  Most came from Columbia, though a few came from other locations around the world.  The priest of whom I speak was from El Paso, TX so I can’t imagine that citizenship was his goal.  Still, if the other reports are true, that seminary was a hotbed of homosexual activity.

My family comes from a Celtic background.  I mention this because two of my brothers have suffered from “the curse of the Irish”.  My oldest brother died almost three years ago at the age of 54 from pancreatic cancer complicated, I am sure, by years of alcohol abuse.  Another brother who is now in his early 50’s has lived a life, shall we say, less exemplary than any of us would have liked.  I state this now firmly.  My brother has been a drunk, a thief, and a notorious liar.  There is no excuse for his behavior over the years.

On the night of the big party we all gathered, including the priest who, at that time, would have been somewhere in his 30’s.  My brother was 29 years-old.  At the end of the night the only people still present were me, two of my sisters, my brother, and the priest.  My brother got up to use the bathroom.  Noticing him stumbling away, my sister picked up her purse and keys and said to me and our other sister “Let’s go.”  If that seems cruel – that we were seemingly abandoning our brother at that moment – keep in mind that years of exposure to AlAnon and experience living with an alcoholic served as our guide.  He got himself into that mess and we didn’t need to be a part of cleaning it up.  After a while, enough is enough.

The priest also got up and excused himself to use the bathroom and that he would drive my brother home.  We left.

The next morning the priest came to pick me up.  We were headed out together to something we had both been invited to and he offered to drive.  He spent the first 15 minutes profusely apologizing to me for his behavior the previous evening.  “Father,” I finally said, “What are you talking about?”  He explained that he had had too much to drink and ‘given bad example’.”  I hadn’t noticed that and assured him that everything was OK.

A few short months later that priest was transferred to another parish and I found a different spiritual director.

Let’s jump forward to a year ago.  A different sister who had had some recent contact with this brother of ours called me on a Saturday morning.  She had spoken with him the night before and was disturbed by some things he had told her.  “He says that Fr. X raped him that night.”  According to him, the priest did indeed drive him home.  My brother had passed out from drinking and woken up to find himself in some way being sodomized by this priest.

If I hadn’t already long since taken the attitude that nothing would shock me I might have dropped the phone.  I flashed back to that night and provided her with all the details I just mentioned above.  Sometimes you just have to make a judgment and determine for yourself, absent hard evidence, that someone is likely telling the truth.  How bad is it, then, when that judgment, that gut feeling, leads you to quickly surmise that a drunk, a thief, and a notorious liar is the one telling the truth?

There were many questions that remained.  My brother said that he told my parents about this shortly after it happened.  So we asked my mom.  And… she confirmed that he had told her.  Unfortunately his past had given her no reason to believe him.  He did not go to the police (as he should have) and never brought it up again.  I also question how a grown man like my brother didn’t take justice into his own hands and beat the shit out of this priest.  But I don’t know what it’s like to be in that position.  I can’t imagine any man wanting to confront that happening to him and when one knows that his drinking would automatically cause people to doubt him…

The sister whom he told this to came to visit a few weeks ago.  We talked about it again, especially in light of the revelations of this past summer.  She spoke to my brother and reconfirmed everything he had said.  Then, she tracked down that priest and called him.  Unsurprisingly he was “unavailable” for almost a week.  Finally she left him a message threatening to show up at the parish.  He called back pretty quickly.  His only response was to say “I never raped your brother” but he did not deny that something untoward took place that night.

Will we ever know the truth of this story?  Who can say.  I can tell you this.  I believe my brother.  He has been a lot of terrible things over the years but something about this one has me in his corner.

Here’s where we left it.  I asked my sister to suggest that he call the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.  Like many states of late, New Jersey has opened an investigation into the Church’s handling of abusive priests (including bishops).  If this man did this to my brother then he did it to others.  Hopefully the AG gets to review his records before they are shredded as I have no doubt a whole lot of shredding is taking place these days.

My advice to anyone reading this: REPORT CRIMES IMMEDIATELY.  If you live in the Garden State call toll-free at (855) 363-6548.  Get rid of the rot.

Pray for the Church.

McCarrick’s “Revelations” about John Paul

Another of the many, many memories that have flooded from the back of my mind to the front in recent days…

This evening I was scrolling through Facebook.  A friend had posted the following musing:

“I refuse to accept the thesis that St. JPII was a malicious actor in the McCarrick mess. We have every indication that he lived a life of holiness totally inconsistent with that, while we also have reason to believe he could easily in those years have had events around him manipulated by those he trusted.”

We haven’t talked much about St. John Paul II’s involvement in the whole McCarrick affair yet.  In fact, I’ve almost been hesitant to do so.  If you’re Catholic, have a pulse, and had that pulse at any time between 1978 and 2005 you’ll probably know why.

John Paul II was a great man.  In his life he taught us volumes, defending the authentic Catholic faith, speaking truth in the midst of those who literally wanted to kill him.  And yet he was the man in charge during a lot of what went on with McCarrick and his ilk.  He even appointed many of the bishops who went on to commit crimes and cover them up.  How do we reconcile these two facts?

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Tomb of Elizabeth Ann Seton, First Native-born American Saint; Shrine of Mother Seton; Emmitsburg, MD

My own supposition is as follows.  When Karol Wojtyla ascended the throne of Peter he was willing to trust that the men in charge of the Vatican Curia (like the Congregation for Bishops) were recommending to him decent men to the episcopacy.  This explains the evil and twisted Matthew Clark, Bishop of Rochester, NY, who was appointed in 1979 and terrorized his diocese for several decades.  I’m pretty sure JPII wised up and began reviewing the appointment process a lot closer after that.  Keep in mind, though, that the process of selecting bishops is a complicated thing and any number of men can get their hands on it and steer it in the wrong direction.  The pope is last man to see the selection and then generally approves the selection.

But let’s look at the end of his life.  It was pretty obvious that from the late 1990’s onward John Paul was seriously ill and very much incapacitated.  I have heard (and I heard from seminary sources back in the day) that many things were going on in the Vatican during this time of which John Paul simply was not aware.  I’m willing to accept this for two reasons.  1) John Paul personally was a holy man.  This fact was obvious during his lifetime.  2) Teddy McCarrick spilled the beans on it to me once.

It was 1998 and the archbishop had come to visit the college seminary on one of his many trips.  He had just returned from Rome and wanted to share some news.  He had brought a gift.  Our rector was to be named a Monsignor.  While we all sat around he addressed us and then took some questions.  Someone asked “Archbishop, how is the Holy Father’s health?”

In a nutshell, here is McCarrick’s reply.

“The Holy Father is well but not well.”  He then went on to detail over the next few minutes the pontiff’s condition, describing his Parkinson’s Disease (which had not been officially divulged yet) and the medicines that were “being given the pope”.  He described the pope’s typical day as “being given a certain regimen in the morning so he could be trotted out into the square or on the balcony”  I remember thinking at the time how sad this was and that maybe we shouldn’t be hearing it.  “Then, he has his meetings with whomever has come to see him, still fortified by his first round of meds.  Then after lunch they give him a whole lot more only these medicines basically wipe him out for the rest of the day so he can’t really function.”

The man painted a pathetic portrait of an icon.  I look back.  I know what McCarrick was doing now.  In light of the present I truly believe he was gloating (McCarrick) and relished in the fact that he would be able to get away with anything he wanted.  I think he was signaling to us that he could do anything with impunity.

Dirtbag.

More to come (including the “difficult” post I promised).

Pray for the Church.