Rage over Card. McCarrick and Total War

I had this note from a priestly reader:

Thank you for drawing attention to the Mme Defarge rhetoric of the Left (Catholic and otherwise) and for pointing out the danger of letting the Left provoke us also into a lynch mob mentality on our side. Remember St. Thomas More’s warning against those who would sweep away all law and due process to destroy the wicked wholesale! Everyone needs to take a breath and calm down about the McCarrick business.

Yes, those rumors have been around a long time; but without evidence or reliable testimony, it would have been detraction (and legally slander or libel) to destroy his reputation by proclaiming these things as certain. It’s different now that there is evidence; that was not so before. [I think there was evidence, it’s just that those who had it didn’t want to risk themselves by going public with it.] Many of those bishops and clergy who are now bitterly denounced by Right and Left as complicit really could not act upon mere rumors or suspicions. As with individual offenders, each case needs to be considered separately and according to evidence. We should not resort to collective vengeance, without regard for personal culpability. Beware of a lynch mob mentality: [NB]unsubstantiated accusations can be used to attack great priests like Fr Frank Phillips. The casualties of “total war” will be on both sides. It’s starting to sound like the French Revolution or the lead-up to the Spanish Civil War. [Which scares me.  It’s one of the reasons why I’ve taken up this issue.]

Orthodox and conservative and traditional Catholics need to remember:

one of the most destructive errors of the Left that it allows the idea of institutional/structural/collective sin to obscure personal sin and redemption. But don’t we hold out the possibility of redemption also for Cardinal McCarrick though he, of course, has to answer for his actions? If a bishop needs to resign or be punished, should not the way be open for hope and redemption even at the end of that road?

Didn’t Cardinal George warn against a kind of secularized Calvinism that declares that some are “totally depraved” and beyond redemption?  [Indeed he did.  He also made the observations that Americans are simultaneously hedonistic and puritanical.  He was on the right track with his readings of polarization.]

The Church needs to follow canon law and due process and not resort to media lynchings and extra-legal penalties. It’s the mentality of lawlessness that has got us in this mess in the first place. I am alarmed when a perceptive commentator like Hillary White begins to talk of “do-it-yourself gallows” for complicit bishops.

People are really upset.  Hillary White has the right to be upset.  However, “DIY gallows” should be out of bounds.  I dragged the Tricoteuse of the catholic Left, Madame Wile. E. Defarge over the rhetorical coals for his image of the guillotine for those with whom he disagrees.  I don’t think that “DIY gallows” is any better.  When we start talking – publicly – about enemies up against the wall, then we’ve started to visualize doing such things.

We don’t have to play bean-bag with each other, but some images are over the line.

Hillary, who is really angry, is probably trying to cause some bishops to feel some pain and fear with the gallows image.

John Zmirak at Stream has a suggestion that might in fact scare bishops a lot more than gibbets.  Let’s see what he has to say.

How Can Catholics Fight Back? With the Power of the Purse.

I once tried to explain the problems faced by faithful Catholics to my good friend Eric Metaxas. [author of good books on Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce US HERE – UK HERE] “Imagine you felt your salvation depended on staying inside a Church with apostolic doctrines, which is run by liberal Protestants.”  [Yeah.]

We Catholics have faced some version of that for most of my lifetime. In theory, the bishop is meant as the heir of the apostles to be the main teacher of doctrine. And a model of holiness.


No surprise that bishops find allies in pro-choice labor unions.  [Ouch!] And in money-sluicing Democrats who promise to keep the Church’s “charities” on life-support as government contractors. Remember when one brave bishop, Thomas Paprocki, ordered his local Catholic U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, to stop receiving Communion? That was after Durbin voted to keep on killing pain-capable, almost viable unborn babies. The very next week, the cardinal in Chicago, Blaise Cupich, did a Skype call thanking Durbin for his help on immigration. Just to make sure that Durbin suffered no political damage. And to slap Paprocki publicly in the face.


The only reason these Mainline liberal Protestants serving as Catholic bishops aren’t facing empty churches like their Episcopalian colleagues? That would be immigration. Some 40% of native born Catholics leave the Church. But Catholic numbers stay flat, instead of declining, thanks to Latin American immigration. One in four Catholic adults in the U.S. was born in another country. When many bishops tell us that immigration is the “future of the church,” they never say why. It’s because they’ve given up on the rest of us — the people who grew up here in their churches. Whose ancestors built the parishes they wreckovate. Who are still paying their bills with our donations[I just had to clench my hands a bit in anger.]

Many of those bishops have virtually ceased to preach, teach, or evangelize the faith. They’ve decided to simply import people, who (wouldn’t you know!) just happen to join up en masse as liberal Democrats. So the Democrats are the allies. Nasty, “harsh” Republicans (so what if they’re pro-life and pro-marriage?) want to shut down the blood transfusion. Then everyone would see just how ghastly sick the patient really is.


Lay Catholics have very little power to influence our pastors. Or our bishops. We used to wait for the papacy to fix things. To send letters to Rome, in the hope that the Vatican would rein in local abuses. We imagined that faithful orders and solid dioceses would simply outproduce the dying liberal religious orders and lavender seminaries. [That’s the Biological Solution.  Recently someone else said that the Biological Solution wasn’t working.  It is still working, but it is working on all of us. Hence, our side has to work harder.  But here we go with the practical suggestion from Zmirak.]


One leverage, other than prayer, which faithful laymen have is financial. As much as they draw from the taxpayer, the bishops’ main source of income is Sunday collections. (They get 8%, every week, from every parish.)

How much will these bishops get? That is in our hands. Quite literally, in the checkbooks we hold. And there are things we can do. On a grand scale, I’d like to see faithful Catholics of means set up formal escrow accounts. (For the national initiative, we could lightheartedly take the name “St. Escrow’s.”) Those accounts will receive the monies those Catholics would otherwise have given to their bishops. Annually, a board of faithful laymen will review each bishops’ decisions, and pay him what he deserves.

For ordinary Catholics? Well, a very faithful priest in an appallingly liberal diocese once offered this suggestion. If you have a good pastor and parish, but don’t want to fund your bishops’ open-borders or big government activism — or his gay-dominated seminary — do this: Each week or month write your pastor a personal check.Make it out to him, not the parish. He can do it with it what he wills, and you’ll trust him to spend it wisely. The bishop’s not entitled by any law, canon or civil, to one red cent.


According to the Precepts of the Church, we have an obligation to support the Church materially.  How we do that is not spelled out.  The obligation is a serious one, however.

I think gallows rhetoric is over the top.  I also think it is less effective than checkbook rhetoric.  You have to consider your audience.  Whom are you really trying to persuade?  And to do … what exactly?   After the venting is done, and you feel a little better, what is it that you truly want to accomplish?

The end, the point or purpose, of rhetoric is to discover the best means to persuade, to move your listeners to do something, to feel something, to learn and be edified.  First of all, you have to know clearly what you want to accomplish.   Aristotle in his writings on rhetoric talks about the personal character of the speaker: we have to know ourselves. He says you have to know your audience.  Then you have to choose the topics, arguments, words and ornamentation of language which will bring the audience to the goal you have determined.

What is it that we want to accomplish?

Do we just want to hurt or ruin or is it something else?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. tominrichmond says:

    Agreed that due process is important.
    But the Spanish Civil War and like analogies are inapposite, since the clergy in those cases was generally disciplined and observant of celibacy.
    Now, however, homosexuality and other lapses are rampant, obvious, and of long-standing. They are tacitly permitted by many or most bishops, and apparently even by the Pope.
    In short, it’s not a revolutionary trumped up notion that the clergy are by and large corrupt and worldly.
    The answer, as you say, is not in the gallows but where the bishops seem to care most: the pocketbook. Personally I would only give money to solid groups such as FSSP and others who have a serious, demonstrated commitment to the Faith and whose clergy act accordingly.
    Most local dioceses at least in this country can’t pass that simple test, so deserve nothing by way of support. Who, anyway, wants to see their widow’s mite go to pay the bill for some sexually abusive priest or bishop?

  2. That Guy says:

    I like the ideas proposed herein, but writing a check made out directly to one’s Pastor rather than to one’s parish would have negative implications for tax deductibility. I like to think of my donations as having a “double effect” of doing good for the recipient, while also having the meritorious effect of “starving the beast” by facilitating the payment of less taxes that will fund Planned Parenthood, et al.

  3. I was with a group of priest friends yesterday for prayer, conversation and a meal — something I think is good for priests and not enough of us take time for, by the way — and the subject of McCarrick came up. We had a spirited discussion.

    For my part, I am angry about the situation. Another priest counseled caution, as you and your correspondent have, in how we respond. My rejoinder: “There are many stops between Cincinnati and Toledo,” meaning, there are many intermediate responses between doing nothing and setting up gallows.

    Specifically regarding McCarrick: as strongly as I agree with your correspondent about caution in wrecking someone’s good name, especially when all you have is rumor and hearsay, I must counter that this good rule must not be misapplied, specifically in this case. First: it seems very clear that many who were in a position to do something had more than rumor and hearsay. Second, my anger is not over their failure to put McCarrick in a “gallows,” but rather, their apparent failure to do anything.

    More specifically: if you learn something terrible might be happening, you can begin asking questions. Bishops and diocesan functionaries could have asked lots of pertinent questions of the right people, and gone from having only rumor and hearsay, and have actual evidence. They could have sought out people who had been victimized, and asked in a way that communicated those being asked would be safe in giving candid answers. They could have given a d***, and it appears that they did not.

    Am I being unfair about these various bishops and their decision-influencing subordinates? Then let them now spell out exactly what they heard, when, and most importantly, what they did with that information. Did they do anything? Anything at all? Tell us.

    Avoiding an overreaction is correct but it isn’t an excuse for under-reacting.

  4. Ave Maria says:

    In my former, not very faithful, diocese we had a Roman Catholic priest for a pastor so the parish was find. I did not want to give to the diocese. I would directly drop off checks at the parish office with the note to use for needs of the altar or utilities, or something. I would not have written a check directly to the pastor; that might not work out well. But I contributed to my parish without the funds going to the diocese which was off the rails.

  5. ceich says:

    Last night I wrote my bishop, the excellent Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa in California. The subject of my email was “Trust”. I was not venting; instead I linked to Ross Douthat’s column and quoted his call for a thorough investigation, authorized by the Pope if necessary.

    I begged him to help cleanse the Church from this latest wound, and work to establish structural changes that will minimize the damage—to souls first, but also to Christ’s bride—from the (admittedly perennial) problem of predators.

  6. John Grammaticus says:

    I have a policy of NOT putting money in the Sunday collection basket but making a monthly donation directly to the FSSP out of my gross pay packet, that way everyone wins; I pay less tax (I’m English the rules are probably different in America), the liberal diocese doesn’t get a penny and my good Diocesan Parish Priest gets a nice bottle of his favorite poison to break the Lent and Advent fasts.

  7. sekcatholic says:

    I think the “priestly reader” was right on target: calm down! Calming down does not imply condoning or being complicit in bad behavior. It does imply exercising prudence and supporting Holy Mother Church in spite of those within it whose sinful practices bring scandal and harm. I would have hoped for a more forceful denunciation of Hillary White’s incendiary comments. They do no good and are a possible occasion for grave sin. As for our ability to use finances to influence policy and policymakers, beware! Many an empty Protestant church building testifies to the havoc that can be wreaked when the laity start voting with their pocketbooks.

  8. richiedel says:

    The mob mentality also gets in the way of our attention to establishing longer-lasting any more meaningful solutions – like the special tribunal to judge these cases concerning bishops as recommend by Cardinal O’Malley, or applying the exact same standards and consequences to bishops that are applied to priests.

  9. Fr. Andrew says:

    Certain interested parties will be leaning toward the lynch mob mentality simply due to the fact that they were treated most foul in seminaries because of their desire for holiness and their heterosexuality. We all know stories and are well aware of where the bodies are buried and the skeletons are kept. Time and persistence will see a positive end to this story…I hope! My fear is that it will be brushed under the rug by a media machine owned by the friendlies of this deviance. Stand fast and hold the line. Cal for accountability. And for the love of all that is good and holy, PREACH THE GOSPEL, FATHERS!!!!

  10. Vincent1967 says:

    The issue of money is interesting. Clearly, the hierarchy of the Church in Germany doesn’t need to worry about pews emptying because of the Kirchensteuer which has given billions of euros to Cardinal Marx etc al. (and who therefore do not need to keep the faithful ‘on side’). Similarly, the 8/1000 tax in Italy has helped the Holy See (although a report today suggests payments are decreasing under this pontificate). Although we are bound by the commandments of the Church and must support our pastors, I can only agree that we need to find ways to support Her mission without supporting a hierarchy which (in part) has ceased to be Catholic.

  11. Fr. Andrew says: due to the fact that they were treated most foul in seminaries because of their desire for holiness and their heterosexuality

    This is precisely what I have to work with when I read these stories. I don’t know about my holiness, but I do know about my adherence to the Catholic faith (under serious attack in that hell hole seminary) and my resistance and distaste for homosexuality (significantly present in that hell hole seminary). I’ve spent the last quarter century trying not to be as angry as some of my coeval confreres still are.

  12. Vincent1967 says: the 8/1000 tax in Italy

    From what I understand, the giving is way down.

  13. Joy65 says:

    Father Martin Fox and Fr. Andrew GREAT comments!

    Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Mother Mary, All Holy Saints and Angels surround and protect from satan and all his evil ways ALL Priests, Religious Brothers & Sisters, Deacons, Seminarians, our Pope, Bishops, Cardinals and all discerning vocations to the Priesthood or Religious Life. KEEP ALL IN OUR CHURCH holy, devout and ONLY concerned with doing Your will Lord and speaking the TRUTH. Lord whatever is going on with all of these scandals in the Church PLEASE bring those who are responsible to justice and help to “CLEAN HOUSE ” and make your Seminaries ONLY places of preparing good holy devout men for the Priesthood. Protect them all and keep them safe spiritually, physically, emotionally. AMEN

  14. LeeGilbert says:

    John Zmirak’s suggestion reminds me of a story told to me by my Trappist friend Fr. Daniel Lenihan (1907-2012) of New Melleray Abbey (Trappist), near Dubuque, Iowa. It seems that an industrial level hog farm was about to be set up near the monastery, threatening all kinds of deleterious effects on local streams, atmosphere and property values. Someone in the area organized a protest march and summoned the media, who showed up in force. The monks were enlisted in this endeavor and all Cistercian tradition to the contrary notwithstanding they joined in this march. Father told me that as they were returning and walking up the driveway to the abbey a fellow marcher, a lady, turned to him and said, “Father, no one prays about anything anymore!”

    So if we are not going to cry out to God for relief, seeking help where help may be found, if we are not going to fast so as to make our prayer heard on high ( Is. 58:4), if we are not going to beg Our Lady of Sorrows to obtain relief for us with novenas on Friday evenings, or offer the ultimate sacrifice for this cause by destroying our televisions, if we are not going to form the Cold Shower Society and pledge to begin our days with penance to offset the sins of many, if we are not going to commit a decade of our evening Rosary that the Lord will purify His Church, then one would have to say that withholding money from the bishops is a terrific idea.

  15. Kathleen10 says:

    Fr. Z., I’m sorry you experienced that in your seminary. I really am. You didn’t deserve that and it’s a travesty you had to endure it.
    The human heart can only take so much pain coupled with frustration. We are all battle-weary, it’s a long slog, this life, and these homosexual men have added to our burden greatly and apparently intend to keep on doing just that. We can develop Stockholm Syndrome or we can fight it. It is now impossible to put corks on how Catholics are feeling, and even if it gets corked, it’s only going to come out stronger somewhere else. Venting is appropriate, and I’m not sure rules apply as much as they once did. We are in a foreign land now, where what we knew we find we didn’t know. We don’t want Thunderdome, but the days of speaking politely while these men carry on their proclivities are over, and I hope they’re over, because we can’t keep doing this.
    If nothing else these men should not be comfortable any more and if all we can be is thorns, then I’m ready to be a thorn.

  16. Lurker 59 says:

    Let me suggest not giving cash. Whereas a bishop might not be obligated to “one red cent” of a personal cheque, many priests might feel obligated to do so and bishops might feel obligated to compel.

    Give goods and services. Amazon delivers. Grocery stores deliver. Pay the parish’s utility bill for a month. Get together with a group of like-minded individuals and donate directly. Want to contribute to the “burn the mortgage” drive? Go to the bank directly.

    But I don’t think that the purse string tactic is going to work. It implies that love of money will motivate members of the episcopate to defrock their friends.

    Friends – a keyword. Also key is that the criminals have friends in high places that have a proven track record of squashing people. Why weren’t certain episcopal abusers defrocked a long time ago? Because they have friends in high places who approved and could squash those who objected.

    What can be done? The cancer is in the educational and formation system for clerics. We have got to stop sending good men through a system where they have to be submarines, hide their Faith, hide their prayers, and learn but not learn anything. This situation wholly unacceptable. So part of this discussion needs to also be a dismantling of the network that both encourages clerics who sexually abuse and who spiritually abuse (by not teaching the Faith), as well as creates an atmosphere of silence.

  17. LarryW2LJ says:

    I think what frustrates a lot of us in the pews, is that we see some good priests get in trouble for doing the things they’re supposed to do, For instance, defending the Eucharist, defending life by praying the Rosary near abortion centers, giving homilies on topics that should be “no brainers” for any good Catholic, offering Masses of reparation when they perceive that serious sin has been committed in a place or at an event. Its also very disconcerting for Catholics who do their best to live their faith, to be described as “rigid”, or some other not-so-nice descriptive.

    Meanwhile, politicians who OBVIOUSLY shouldn’t be receiving Communion continue to do so.with impunity. Now to hear of these allegations concerning sexual misconduct by a Cardinal, and for weeks – not a peep out of the Vatican.

    It just seems like if you play by the rules, keep your nose clean – you’re the target of derision, while those who flaunt their dissent from the Faith – nothing is done. Or hardly anything is done. It get old, very quickly.

    My apologies for venting.

  18. chantgirl says:

    Perhaps Hilary’s words should be read in context:


    She is not inciting mob violence, but merely pointing out to the bishops (who seem to be oblivious) just how angry lay Catholics actually are. Many of our bishops are woefully out of touch with what the laity are really thinking. If the McCarrick scandal can’t wake them up, we need to check them for a pulse.

    Compare how “grunt” priests are handled when there is an accusation of abuse to how Cd. McCarrick has been handled. Consider how priests who are exonerated of false accusations are still blacklisted by their diocese while the guilty cover for each other. Think about the fact that guilty priests aren’t the ones who are held financially responsible for their crimes; little old ladies living on fixed incomes and middle class families who can’t even afford to send their kids to Catholic school are paying for these crimes.

    Consider that families sacrifice to pay to send their sons to seminary, and that some of these sons return to them broken, without faith, and physically, morally, mentally, and spiritually compromised. Vocations ruined. Souls lost.

    Finally, imagine one of your worst nightmares as a parent coming true- the rape of your child by a man of the cloth. That we have not seen some priest or bishop die at the end of a barrel held by an angry father might be the greatest miracle we have seen in the last 40 years.

    If Jesus uses the image of a millstone drowning men who have corrupted little ones, perhaps we have not yet understood the gravity of these sins, and maybe a little more hyperbole is necessary.

  19. Kathleen10 says:

    chantgirl speaks accurately. Someone very close to me was molested by someone of the same sex, a teenage boy. It caused a lifetime of confusion and pain, which can’t be easily described, and which is too easy to pass off as not serious when it’s not you. It is devastating. Homosexuals know this is how “recruits” are made. This is a monstrous behavior, there are really no words to describe how serious this is, and how many thousands of lives have been just wrecked because of the sick obsession of homosexual predators. Too many! Read the words of poor “James” the McCarrick victim, it’s heartbreaking. It makes you wish you could go back in time to help him and stop that horrible man from putting his vile hands on him. To realize he was doing that while at the same time presenting himself as some pious cleric…ugh! This story has been repeated again and again and again, so many lives torn apart, how many lost to homosexuality and how many other boys have been the new victims, since the victims often become the perps as they are caught in a web only Satan could weave. We should support this??
    Well this isn’t 1964 any more boys, and now, we know. If you don’t fear God, we do. We can’t know in particular who is doing what, so unfortunately, all may have to pay a price as support is withdrawn. People will only be victims for so long.

  20. Karl Keating says:

    Withholding or redirecting donations will have almost no effect. Can anyone point to any abusive bishop (or priest for that matter) who was cashiered because his cash register was emptied? I can’t either.

    A man such as Theodore McCarrick won’t care whether half the people in his diocese close their checkbooks. He may have to close half their parishes, but he won’t change his lifestyle. To think that financial pressure will reform men who are so deeply corrupt is naïve. They just don’t care.

    The only solution is wholesale removals, even up to firing half a country’s episcopate. It isn’t necessary or reasonable to expect to be able to have the level of certainty one seeks in a criminal court–“beyond a reasonable doubt”–and it may happen that a few good (or at least not-so-bad) men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time will be sidelined too. That’s what one might expect when dealing with an intractable, decades-long conspiracy of silence.

    I have no expectation that this pope will have the courage or savvy to do what needs to be done, but then his immediate predecessors didn’t either. Even most good bishops and priests seem immobilized, not getting beyond talk about process and policies.

    In 2002 Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz referred to “this hapless bench of [American] bishops.” The bench doesn’t seem to have become less hapless in the intervening years. There are 291 active bishops in the U.S. at the moment. Can you name even ten who aren’t happy to pass the buck?

  21. rdowhower says:

    Has anyone out there aggregated the comments from our bishops about the McCarrick scandal? I’ve heard nothing from my own. Perhaps this is because he was coadjutor in Newark and thus was privy to any settlement payments that were made? The longer the bishops are silent the more damage they do themselves. The readings from last Sunday were the perfect opportunity to inveigh against these dark events, but even at Fr. Z’s home parish the homily from the deacon was wide of the mark. So sad.

  22. Sportsfan says:

    “they’ve given up on the rest of us — the people who grew up here in their churches. Whose ancestors built the parishes they wreckovate. Who are still paying their bills with our donations. [I just had to clench my hands a bit in anger.]”

    More than just my hands clenched. I had to get up and pace the room for a minute.

    Not only did they wreckovate them, they then closed them down. Eleven, all told, in my deanery alone.
    The ancestors of the builders (literal) still take care of the upkeep, even though Christ no longer is physically present, and hope against odds they will some day reopen.
    Meanwhile the “yes men” pastors feed us the bull from the chancery and pretend everything is hunky dory. Many are in revolt. Others, unfortunately, have just given up.

    As for hitting them in the pocketbook, I personally fear that the administrators would rather just close up shop because of lack of money than admit they are wrong and work to restore what has proven in the past to be successful. I hope I am wrong.

  23. Moro says:


    Other than the need for due process rights, I have to disagree with you. The silence around McCarrick by bishops in the know, not victims, but bishops is absolutely obscene. Every last one of them should be laicized and sent to a monastery at a minimum. Those that knew about children but did nothing belong in jail. Period.

    Take this passage from this blog post for example:

    “Many of those bishops and clergy who are now bitterly denounced by Right and Left as complicit really could not act upon mere rumors or suspicions.” Yeah but what the hell do you call settling a lawsuit? In the statements a few weeks ago by the diocese of Newark and others, it was admitted that lawsuits were settled on his behalf. You can’t get much more knowledge than that. Maybe not all bishops, but definitely enough of them were well in the know. You don’t just shell out tens of thousands of dollars or more in a settlement plus legal fees (probably also in the 10s of thousands) because “maybe” the accuser is “mistaken” and you want them to go away.

    And long before any of this came out, I personally knew a priest who was kicked out of his parish by McCarrick almost exactly 15 years ago after giving a sermon on the 35th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. He was literally the only priest reassigned right at the end of July. The reason for the reassignment could not have been any clearer. Wuerl pushed him out of DC entirely.

    As you can see, McCarrick is not just a pervert, he’s an enemy of the faith and he needs to be done away with ASAP.

  24. Moro says:

    And by done away with I mean laicized, stripped of his red hat, and if possible, throwing in jail. Preferably with the rite of degradation of a bishop. https://www.rosarybay.com/degradatio-ab-ordine-pontificali.html

  25. TonyO says:

    Zmirak is right about a lot, but not about the immigrants: hispanic immigrants may be “Catholic” in large numbers, but apparently they are not going to church in hugely higher percentages than native-born Catholics. And what’s more, they are not obviously giving more money than native-born Catholics. So it would be pretty sloppy/stupid of the American bishops to assume that they can “count on” immigrants to fill the pews and the coffers. Now, they ARE in fact pretty sloppy/stupid about a lot of things, but claiming that they are supporting immigration out of an accurate forecast of benefits from it is incompatible.

    Karl Keating is partly right about the lack of donations not changing the bishops’ minds. It won’t – not ALONE, that is. Other things must be done alongside. For one, Zmirak is right to point to the notion of other bishops, the ones doing it right, getting the money instead. In fact if the crappy bishops have to close their seminaries (or almost close them, down to just a short handful of men), and the good bishops have whopping large classes of a hundred men in each class, because that’s where the money is AND that’s where Catholic teaching is, yes, that will have an effect. But still more importantly, if the money goes not just to bishops who are doing good things, but specifically to bishops who are calling out the rats like McCarrick, who are investigating and then publishing the evidence of wrongdoing on massive scales, who are DOING something about the neglect and sweeping-under-the-rug, then yes, THAT could effect some real change.

    We can’t count on the Vatican to fix it. We had a saint in office for 26 years, and he failed on this issue. (Someone at the top might want to reflect on that fact for a moment). We have to fix what we can from here, as laymen. And as laymen, we can take responsibility for using our money wisely. That includes no longer supporting bishops who sweep the information under the rug because they “don’t know for sure” or because (much too likely for anyone’s comfort) are themselves implicated in smaller but related failures of their own.

    I am afraid that you poor priests, like Fr. Andrew, and many more, are stuck in the middle: some of you have wretched bishops so you can’t go to the bishop for help. You might consider, just possibly, asking to be released to become incardinated to another diocese. It’s the priestly version of voting with your wallet (or, in this case, your feet). Some bishops would not respond well. But interestingly, some of the more liberal bishops would accept it – at least, if approached the right way. And if you are on the bishop’s “bad” list (i.e. the list of good priests), then what can it hurt? Maybe he will say “good riddance”. Normally, it makes sense for a priest to stick it out and accept things like the bishop’s bad graces as God’s will for you, but maybe, in this day, having all the good priests abandon a hell-hole diocese is just what God’s will is, so that things can bottom out and then be turned around by something more striking than business as usual.

  26. chantgirl says:

    Karl Keating- I think you are right about wholesale cleaning of house. If Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons over at Lifesite is correct that these clerical abusers are often narcissists, they will fear the loss of power, position, and prestige much more than having to close parishes due to contributions drying up.

    Unfortunately, it appears that we have no one watching the watchers over in the Vatican, so perhaps we need to go over their heads and pray to St. Joseph, protector of the Church, that through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Church would be delivered.

    Kathleen10- Prayers for your friend who was molested. People who have not experienced it themselves, or who don’t know someone who has, sometimes have a difficult time understanding the lifelong devastation it causes. And if molestation by a parent is damaging, molestation by someone who is literally standing in the person of Christ is absolutely satanic and soul-crushing.

    Let us hear no more calls for calming down when the House of God is on fire.

  27. Kathleen10 says:

    We have almost no power. We can’t change this. We can’t stop the predators, can’t make the church end their policy of allowing homosexuals to be ordained and then given promotion after promotion to the highest reaches of the church. We can’t stop these sick men from having sex on our altars or gay orgies in our Vatican or stop them from advancing the LGBT agenda through their manipulation of the Gospel or selling their crappy books. We can’t stop them from going on committees that negatively impact virtually everything in the church around the world, can’t make them be faithful, can’t prevent their apostasy. We can’t make them listen to the victims of their fellow pederasts, can’t make them act with a minimum of decency and stop the lying, the lying, the lying, the ridiculous evading. Can’t stop them from ignoring the homosexual root of the problem, can’t stop them from covering for each other.
    But we can vote with our feet, and we can vote with our checkbook, and we can inform our fellow Catholics about what is going on, and we can out them where we can, and we can call them out, and we can make life less comfortable so that pederasty and coverups are not quite as easy to pull off as they once were. It is a small, grim satisfaction, but they have dragged boys and young men into hell and made good seminarians miserable, punishing young men for trying to be faithful. It is a miserable satisfaction, but after years of this misery, miserable satisfaction is not nothing.

  28. robtbrown says:

    The McCarrick news seems to me like a diversionary tactic. He is old, out of action for some time, and now of little consequence. It directs attention away from problems with active bishops.

    After Rembert Weakland stole money from the Diocese (morally not legally) to support his boyfriend, he was allowed to retire.

    If McCarrick is laicized, I’ll think the pope is serious. Otherwise, it is just for show.

  29. robtbrown says:

    One other point: To use the word “rumor” with the cases of McCarrick and Weakbrain does disservice to those whose lives have been damaged by this clerical scum.

    One thing we’ve learned in the past several years: Women cannot be priests–but Queens can.

  30. eymard says:

    From an editorial today in a “flagship” Catholic magazine:

    *moral ambivalence that permitted
    *begin a much-needed purification
    *major gap in the Church’s policies
    * global efforts in clergy-abuse reforms
    *episcopal complacency
    *standards would happen quickly
    *conversion of heart that will transform
    *establishing a clear path for reporting immoral behavior
    *changes great enough for a true renewal

    Stop… please stop.

    I will boldly speak for the laity by saying, from now on, our only interest will be in sentences, from Church authorities directed toward alleged miscreants, and all those associated with the alleged miscreants, that begin with who, what, when, where, why, and how. And all answers must be in the first person, using strictly the active voice.

    The Church is suffocating in a Swamp of Vague Subterfuge, and we demand clarity.

  31. Fr. Reader says:

    We are in the middle of a very interesting period in the history of the Church. Who were the saints of the 9th and 10th centuries? who were the saints of the 15th an 16th? May God send saints now.

  32. richdel says:

    Mob mentality which seeks to ruin and destroy needs to be distinguished from intense scrutiny and corresponding demand for personal accountability from the bishops, especially those in the position of archbishop and/or cardinal who have participated in the silence and lack of action which allowed Cardinal McCarrick to get to where he did, and away with what he did for so long. I know that when I read as milquetoast a response as Cardinal Tobin’s this past week, I am provoked to a response of something along the lines of: “Are you joking?!?! And, is this business-as-usual approach supposed to produce changes to prevent this same sort of thing from happening again?!?! We need higher standards and policies!!!” But, as I am provoked by such babble to clamber for higher standards and stricter policies, I am distracted from stepping back and asking, “Wait a minute: Cardinal _________, what did you know and when did you know it?”

    I can see that as such questions are posed to some bishops, we will get victim cards played, guilt trips on the questioners invoked, complete and total stonewalling, and/or outright lies in response, all along with the overarching claim that there is no evidence for us to suspect anything, and if there is, then a response like Cardinal Madriaga’s today that those who bring forward such evidence are gossips who are motivated by no other desire than to portray others in bad light (gee, who gave him the idea that he can so dismissively ignore the concerns of others by calling them gossips with bad intentions…?).

    But, I think we are at the point where the burden-of-proof shell game should no longer be under the control of the bishops. If there is evidence of association with McCarrick throughout the past 40 years, especially of long-standing working and personal relationships, the burden of proof should shift, at least to a certain degree, to those who claim they didn’t know of anything for whatever length of time. I think Cardinal Farrell got this idea as he attempted to outline so extensively (see 7/24/18 Crux article “Cardinal Farrell expresses shock over Cardinal McCarrick abuse case”) the limitations of his knowledge of what was going on with McCarrick. Still, we are at a point now to where the burden of proof should be shifted to one who makes such a response to provide evidence that such limitations existed.

    Theoretically, I know it sounds nice to say that such burden of proof should be shifted, but who is really going to make them feel they are in this position? If they are already think we have no choice but to be content with their telling us that they’re going to get together with the boys to talk about talking about doing stuff, then I think it’s safe to say that many of them don’t think that they are answerable to concerned laity. Who, then, will they, practically speaking, be answerable to?

  33. monstrance says:

    Just mailed off a letter to my bishop.
    Not an email.
    Not typed.
    Hand written on yellow tablet to make it stand out on his desk.

    I encourage everyone else to do likewise.
    Certainly some of these good men are becoming just as disgusted as we are.

  34. monstrance says:

    The Sgt actually bears some resemblance

  35. The Egyptian says:

    sadly this is how we got rid of a bad priest in my parish, he had a severe drinking problem for one, showed up drunk for a wedding of my best friend, Parish council president several time had to drive 50 miles to rescue him from bars in a large city south of us, he continually spent the parish broke, bought expensive things from “friends” of his further away, never consulted the council or checked if possible for a local discount or gifts, diocese told the council to be glad we had a priest at all for our “rural” parish, to make it short the parish just stopped giving, 4 Sundays in a row NOTHING was put in the collection, Fr could not pay the assessment to the diocese, he was gone, we were given a wonderful priest who watched the money and achieved a lot of improvements at low cost. On the bright side the aforementioned priest straightened his life out, dried out and spent the rest of his life helping other priests and religious with alcohol addiction, many praised his work and loved him for it. Good can come from surprising happenings

  36. KT127 says:

    I respectfully disagree, Father. How do you tobble the top of the hierarchy? You can’t starve or bankrupt them and still leave the lower levels intact.

    If I may speak frankly, I always viewed myself as a Catholic peasant. I am not sure on how to properly address anyone higher than a parish preist…..and I honestly don’t care. I understand the why and usefulness of the heirarchy. I have no desire to change the structure of the Church. As a woman, a priest isn’t going to confined in me. So my influence is limited to my prayers, pocketbook, my children and my attendance. It was -designed- that way.

    So this is what I want the laity to do. Crack the seminaries open. Laity oversight 100%. I want independent investigators, mystery shoppers, a way for anonymous complaints, and those complaints investigated. Do seminarians live at the seminary? Not anymore. Abuse is far easier when you have that much control over someone’s life. Not tradition? Too bad, so sad. Should have thought of that before you covered abuse. Think it won’t help priestly formation? How dare you insult our God. He will call His priests and He will protect them. So get your vile hands off them.

    No more of this hiding prayers or being kicked out. Certainly no more physical harm. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Toss the seminaries. Those are our sons. Why would we leave them to the wolves?

    Let God sort out the heirarchy. May God have mercy on them. Because if we have to go up that far….we won’t.

  37. Athelstan says:

    Honestly – and I hate to say this – I think you overreacted to *both* MSW and Hilary White.

    In both cases it comes off fairly clearly as gallows humor – not actual gallows.

    And the bishops need fear little in the way of rope (or anything else) at this point. Aside from a frisson of anger from a small set of columnists, bloggers, and Twitter, most American Catholics are hardly aware of what’s happened. It’s business as usual.

  38. ChesterFrank says:

    “We should not resort to collective vengeance, without regard for personal culpability. Beware of a lynch mob mentality” In this war you mention, I have to wonder if we the mob are fighting the offensive or defensive battle? It seems to me that we are the ones under attack, and this Cardinal is yet another offensive attack by that other mob. My skepticism is so great I even wonder about its timing, is this story coming out because they wanted it to. Did they leak it put their agenda back in the headlines? Are they going to turn it to their advantage so that they might gain more ground? I have to think that we are the ones that are being hunted by that lynch mob, and have been for quite a while.

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  40. Mike says:

    The Church has been under attack from Liberalism for the past century and a half at least. Liberals are in charge at the highest levels; the decades after Vatican 2 have cemented their grip. Their dismissal of (not to say contempt for) the faithful laity cannot be overstated, else why would McCarrick ever have been made an archbishop and created a cardinal?

    Faithful Catholics must resist the temptation to thrash and rage, and simply face the fact that some, perhaps many, post-V2 icons have contributed to the ruination of the institutional Church, and their successors will continue for the foreseeable future to do so to the best of their ability. Only a ringing renunciation of Liberalism, such as would be provided by reaffirmation of Quanta Cura and the Syllabus, would move the institution back toward Truth. That’s not forthcoming. Thus each of us must work extra hard on personal holiness—prayer, fasting, mortification, and the works of mercy—expecting little help and much hindrance from the hierarchy. Sad though it is to have to state it so baldly, any other expectation can be embraced only at great personal hazard to our immortal souls.

  41. Fr. Kelly says:

    It may be “Gallows humor” on the part of MSW and Hillary White, but that itself is beyond the pale. What is so funny about guillotining Orthodox Catholics or hanging Bishops?

    If we won’t stand still for jokes about lynching blacks or gassing Jews, (and we most certainly shouldn’t) Then why should we find it funny to joke about Guillotining Catholics and hanging bishops.
    I come from a people to whom the torture and killing of priests is a lived reality that went on for many years.

    This “Gallows humor” from would be oppressors is not funny.

  42. rhhenry says:

    This latest revelation has, for the first time ever, profoundly shaken my faith in the Church. I know, intellectually, that the Church is perfect but Her members are not. But I’m struggling with the fact that — on a practical level — it seems to be a distinction without a difference.

    Here’s an analogy. All analogies limp, but I’m trying. Imagine a public transportation system. A train. It is universally acknowledged to be perfectly engineered and built. It will not fail if operate properly. But, a lot of the conductors operate the train while intoxicated. And the management is often drunk. And the safety inspectors are drunk, too. (And some passengers, but they are less directly involved.) So accidents often happen to this perfect train.

    But there’s more. If you don’t ride this train at least once a week, you’re at risk of going to Hell. And you’re required to donate money to support the system. Oh, and they’re looking for interns, so please consider sending your son. And to add insult to injury, you’re told not to worry too much — everyone knows who the drunk conductors are, so you might be able to avoid them, but we’re not going to tell you who they are, lest we cause scandal and participate in gossip, but everyone knows.

    In that scenario, the perfection of the train itself is of little consolation when it’s time to board, with your family in tow.

    My brain understands the theoretical distinction between the perfect Church and Her flawed members. My heart and soul, however, are really struggling with the practical realities.

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  44. Defender of Truth says:

    So much as been written here concerning the sexual abuse issue in the Church, that I, personally, cannot add anything to it that would be of value. However, I can refer you to a homily given by Fr. Hollowell that is full of hope for the Church. It brought tears to my eyes and I believe it will do the same to those who listen to it. I suggest you read the Lifesitenews article before listening to Fr. Hollowell’s homily.


  45. PTK_70 says:

    “Catholic numbers stay flat, instead of declining, thanks to Latin American immigration.”

    The immigration solution will fail once immigration slows….unless the bishops choose to minister to these Latin American faithful with full traditional Catholicism. Because right now, the descendants of Latin American immigrants leave off the practice of the faith like you might take a coat off in warm weather. The roots of the Catholic faith seem pretty shallow and once they get outside their culturally Catholic homeplace, the plant dies erelong. We need to meet them (especially the men) with full traditional Catholicism to give the plant a chance.

    Immigrants have children, you know, and the children have children and just because the last name is Gomez or Rodriguez doesn’t mean they identify as Catholic or even speak Spanish very much. If you don’t believe me, go teach in a public high school in southern Tucson for a semester.

  46. frjim4321 says:

    “Homosexuals know this is how ‘recruits’ are made.” – Kathleen10

    This is not only an obvious fallacy but also its implication is grossly unfair and maligning to the vast majority of gay priests who have never and have no inclination whatsoever to ever act out sexually with a minor, not to mention the large number of that group who don’t act out with adults either.

    The John Jay study was quite clear in its statement that the clergy sexual abuse was not a “gay” issue.

    We need to stop scapegoating gay priests and bishops for the crisis.

    [A scapegoat is an undeserving person who is blamed for the faults of others. If one is NOT at fault, one is not a scapegoat.]

  47. robtbrown says:

    KT127 says,

    So this is what I want the laity to do. Crack the seminaries open. Laity oversight 100%. I want independent investigators, mystery shoppers, a way for anonymous complaints, and those complaints investigated.

    That’s a very bad idea. The laity knows nothing about how to run a seminary. The main problem in seminaries the past several years in that the formation was utilitarian, justified by pastoral blah, blah, blah.

    Some years ago I was told that a well known bishop with a bad seminary offered the job of rector to a very good monsignor. He accepted on one condition–he must be given the authority to hire and fire. The bishop refused, and that was that.

  48. Fr. Reader says:

    Lay oversight 100%?
    Laymen have no original sin? In this world there are many parishes and dioceses run in practice by laymen (lay-women, lay-person, etc., etc.), places in which the parish priest or the bishop can do very little without getting permission from the lay council, and these are not necessarily great places. There is desire for power and self affirmation everywhere.

    The analogy is fine, but the role of grace is somehow missing. Also, the train is not just not to go to hell.

  49. acardnal says:

    Have you read “Goodbye Good Men” by Michael Rose? A well documented book about the problem of homosexuals in the clergy and seminaries. Needs to be cleaned up.

  50. Lurker 59 says:

    ~KT127 Yes, the seminaries are a huge problem. While 100% ay control is a problem, many seminaries already have a considerable amount of lay involvement. Grabbing a local seminary, without comment on orthodoxy, the faculty is 5 lay females, 12 lay men, 1 sister, 1 deacon, 10 priests. The core leadership team is 4 laity and 2 priests. So laity being involved is already how things are.

    But yes, absolutely the seminaries need to be dealt with because they are part of the foundations of this problem. No priest should ever be afraid of being kicked out because they are praying to God. No more hiding Catholic books.

  51. frjim4321 says:

    I’m familiar with the Rose book, acardnal.

    It really does not comport with my experience. [It sure does with mine!]

    He promotes a rather false dichotomy, suggesting that the gays were the progressives and the straights were the small-t traditionalists. That certainly was not the case in my class.

    There is no particular “brand” of theology or ecclesiology that correlates significantly with a specified range along the spectrum of sexual orientation.

  52. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    “Homosexuals know this is how ‘recruits’ are made.” – Kathleen10

    This is not only an obvious fallacy but also its implication is grossly unfair and maligning to the vast majority of gay priests who have never and have no inclination whatsoever to ever act out sexually with a minor, not to mention the large number of that group who don’t act out with adults either.

    How do know that the vast majority of of homosexual priests never had asexual encounter?

    The John Jay study was quite clear in its statement that the clergy sexual abuse was not a “gay” issue.

    We need to stop scapegoating gay priests and bishops for the crisis.

    Actually, it said that 81% of all the victims were male. In so far as all priests and deacons are male, the obvious conclusion is that it is a homosexual issue.

  53. Lurker 59 says:


    “gay priests” . Right here is the problem and failure of many to discern the situation. There is no such thing as a “gay priest”. There are only individuals who SUFFER from the inclination towards homosexuality and individuals who willingly choose to carry out those inclinations and damn themselves.

    Until we start to understand and address the immense suffering of those with homosexual inclinations as sufferings and help these people overcome and defend themselves from such onslaughts, we are going to get nowhere. Until we return to reacting in horror to the choice of individuals to damn themselves, we are going to get nowhere.

    Yes, mercy and confession, but such only comes with repentance, repentance only comes from the realization of one’s sins, which only comes from priests preaching the Gospel. When was the last time the Gospel was preached to those who suffer from homosexual inclinations and those who have damned themselves by engaging in such activity?

    I am just a layperson, but really, those who suffer from homosexual inclinations CAN find peace in the Lord, and those who have so sinned CAN repent and find mercy in the Cross. It is possible and there is freedom in God’s grace.

  54. frjim4321 says:

    “There are only individuals who SUFFER from the inclination towards homosexuality…” – Lurker

    I guess I could agree with that in that same sense that the are also people who SUFFER from the inclination to heterosexuality.

    Of course both statements are ridiculous; but equally so.

    I think for many people sexual orientation is fixed at a very young age, and nobody knows why.

    You seem to suggest that people who have a fixed homosexual orientation from a very young are are necessarily and automatically gifted with the charism of celibacy. I don’t particularly agree, but I know that many people have such a belief.

  55. Peter Stuart says:

    frjim4321, as you know, I am a struggling SSA. The crap you are spewing (I choose the term with care) is nothing new. Thirty years ago, priests like you were working hard to pigeonhole guys like me into a set of expected behaviors, as if somehow Christian expectations about purity and chastity and manhood didn’t quite apply to us. I think we know the reason why now in a lot of cases. Whatever the reason, knock it off.

    It is a blessing every day to wake up knowing that I can accept the challenges that I was told were too much for me, and have healthy relationships with men and women instead of being shuffled off to the “special-ed” room. For what remains of my life I will be satisfied if with God’s help I can help rescue even one man from the hell I went through and which, to justify their politics or their personal problems, many priests and bishops would just as soon a new generation of men go through. I don’t expect a lot of help from the celebrity clerics and bishops but I won’t let that stop me. In the meantime I pray you get the help you need and that men like me have as little interference as possible from priests like you.

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  57. jaykay says:

    richiedel: absolutely! Men play sports, shock, horror. So do women, of course. Young men are attracted to sports, and physical activity generally. I think frjim4321 is raising a false dichotomy. Men, in training for the priesthood, play sports. Why not? They’re young men. I’d assume (because he offers no sources) that the same visuals also show the young men in prayer, adoration, at Mass? If not, that would be a false presentation. We’ve had a damn sight too much of false presentation in our seminaries, as far as I can see. I’m in Ireland, I speak of the scandal that seems to be ongoing in our national seminary in recent years. There used to be one in every Diocese but hey… the New Springtime.

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