Matt C. Abbott
To my pleasant surprise, my name and column are mentioned in the Vatican’s recently-released 449-page report on disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. See pages 234 to 244 and 280 to 283.
McCarrick, who (sadly) was one of the most powerful and politically well-connected prelates in the United States for many years, was laicized in 2019 by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after being found “guilty of solicitation during the Sacrament of Confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”
The information I wrote about beginning in 2005 pertained to McCarrick’s coercively sharing a bed with seminarians he favored, which constituted an abuse of power. It was, I came to find out, an “open secret” among several people in the Church and in the mainstream media. Yet it wasn’t until the Archdiocese of New York in 2017 deemed as credible and substantiated an allegation made against McCarrick of the sexual abuse of a minor that the dominoes began to fall, so to speak.
It was only then that we began to see stories about McCarrick’s corruption. It was only then that the mainstream media began to turn on him.
I need to emphasize that we should thank the male victim (whose identity I don’t know) who came forward to the Archdiocese of New York in 2017 with enough evidence that the archdiocese believed his account. This was not a given. The archdiocese’s review board could have easily dismissed the victim’s account as lacking credibility due to McCarrick being held in high esteem by various Church officials and politicians for so long.
From the report (minus footnotes):
The scary thought, if you will, is if the male victim had been just a couple of years older at the time the abusive incident took place, McCarrick would likely still be a prelate in good standing in the Church. The dominoes probably would not have begun to fall. Instead, the encounter could have been deemed consensual and effectively swept under the rug, as had occurred with McCarrick’s sexual harassment of seminarians years ago.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen this time.
I’ve had positive communications with reporters employed by mainstream media outlets, but I will express my disappointment that the mainstream media usually seek to avoid the subject of a gay subculture in the priesthood working to undermine authentic Catholic teaching and practice. And if a Catholic writer focuses too much on the activities of this subculture, which are often done under the radar, he or she gets written off as a right-wing kook and effectively “canceled.”
It’s not surprising, however, considering the vast majority of secular journalists, and even some Catholic journalists, don’t agree with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality as presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Heck, I think it’s safe to say that a significant number of clergy disagree with the teaching as well.)
That’s just how it is.
Regarding my own minor role in exposing McCarrick, while I didn’t have nearly enough information to bring down the powerful yet loathsome prelate in 2005 or 2006 – nor did anyone else in the media, apparently – I like to think that I helped soften, even slightly so, the once untouchable image and reputation of McCarrick.
It was somewhat risky, and after realizing that nothing was happening with the story – Church officials were publicly silent at the time and the mainstream media were reluctant to pursue the story too much, possibly because of McCarrick’s political connections – I thought perhaps I made a mistake in publishing the information. Maybe I had sinned (although I was still morally certain the information was credible) and had given scandal to the Church, I thought. I had a few of the articles removed from RenewAmerica, although other websites had already captured and/or reprinted them.
After 2017, and especially when the Vatican’s report was finally made public a few weeks ago, I felt vindicated and relieved. The dominoes have fallen in their entirety – at least in regard to McCarrick himself.
Stephen Bullivant of the Catholic Herald wrote:
Thank you, Stephen.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League wrote:
Thank you, Bill.
Maike Hickson of LifeSiteNews.com wrote:
Thank you, Maike.
Is the McCarrick report a whitewash? I would say it’s very likely a partial whitewash. There’s a lot of detailed information in the report, no doubt. But with all the corruption in the Church over the years that continues to the present day, I find it very difficult to fully accept the Vatican’s seemingly sanitized version of what transpired with McCarrick and his clerical allies. As one noted priest (who shall remain anonymous) communicated to me recently, “I was extremely disappointed that some of our illustrious hierarchy claim total or partial ignorance when it is obvious many of them knew or suspected what was going on.”
Still, I’m grateful the writer(s) of the report included me in it.
God only knows what’s next for the Church in these terribly tumultuous times.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. Pope St. Pius X, pray for us.© Matt C. Abbott
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