Had Benedict XVI made the sanctions known, then creepy McCarrick wouldn’t have been near the 2013 conclave

I know that a lot is coming at you right now.  This made me put my sandwich down and think.

My friend Fr. Gerald Murray, whom you see on the web and on EWTN especially with Prof. Royal, penned a piece for First Things about L’Affaire McCarrick, The Present Crisis, and The Viganò Testimony.

Remember.  McCarrick boasted of having helped, as a non-elector before conclave, Card. Bergoglio into the See of Peter.  He actively campaigned for him before the conclave doors were shut.

Got it?

Here is the paragraph that Fr Murray wrote which drew me up:

One great lesson of this scandal is that inflicting private and unpublicized penalties for grave offenses against chastity on “important” clerics is a huge mistake. When Benedict found McCarrick to be guilty as charged, the rest of the Church should have been told. McCarrick would not then have been able to pretend he was under no censure. Any violation of the terms of his punishment would have been noted by everyone and thus not allowed to happen. Then Cardinal McCarrick would not have been at the 2013 conclave, just as the Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien was not present due to his sexual abuse of adult males under his authority.

Had Benedict, bless him, made the sanctions known, then McCarrick would not have physically been anywhere near the pre-conclave meetings of the College of Cardinals in 2013. Of course there are phones and email, but he would not have been there, and being there is a huge part of the game.

The fact that, right after the 2013 election McCarrick suddenly returned to high visibility and influence suggests that there is a connection between what he did before the election and the subsequent results of the election.

We can’t know for sure – but we can strongly guess – that had creepy McCarrick not been there, the conclave may have produced a different result.

This is the stuff of future history books, movies, novels.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Canon Law, Mail from priests, The Drill and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jazzclass says:

    That video is just sinister..

  2. I can’t help thinking that, if the last conclave had not produced the result it produced, it would have only postponed the evil hour when the Church must reckon with the full implications and ramifications and fallout of Enlightenment ideologies, to include modernism, leftism and the “spirit of Vatican II.” Sort of like how Americans needed to have to live under an Obama in order for a sufficient number to bring themselves to reject that for which Obama stood.

  3. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    I agree the sanction should have been publicized. It seems Pope Benedict wanted to leave McCarrick with some dignity and, yes, avoid bad publicity.

    Though, if public, I’m guessing it might have been spun as some type of “political” retaliation by liberals and the lavender Mafia. Maybe McCarrick would have been defended by invoking Gloria Steinem’s “one free grope” rule that she devised in a now-notorious New York Times op-ed in the late 1990s to defend President Clinton. According to Steinem, one is entitled to make a “pass,” including unwanted touching, but the other person must then consent to further touching leading to the exchange of bodily fluids.

  4. fmsb78 says:

    When he says “The Lord working through Bergoglio” I think he’s not talking about the same “Lord” as normal people thinks, is he?

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    You know, I’ve been thinking about the secrecy of the sanctions from Pope Benedict XVI, and it has occurred to me that they can only have been given in the period when the Pope was seeking to revise the Canon Law, defective as it was, as he did, and when he made the IMO significant error of keeping his instructions to the Bishops of the world to commence systematically reporting accusations of child abuse to the Police as an internal secret, instead of making them known publicly.

    It was an unnecessary and IIRC damaging PR disaster from the Pope, and it’s quite possible that the secrecy of the sanctions against McCarrick was just part of that same overall strategy.

  6. Laurelmarycecilia says:

    “Had Benedict, bless him, made the sanctions known,…” well, in the talk of a Southern gentlewoman that statement is surely damming, Darlin.’

    PS See no reason why McCarrick should be given any dignity. And the ‘bad publicity’ excuse is classic emasculating PC

  7. JonathanTX says:

    I’m comforted by the fact that the Holy Spirit surely guided the Conclave, and Bergoglio was meant to be Pope at this time, even if His reasons are different from McCarrick/Bergoglio’s

  8. Lepanto ! says:

    ” Had Benedict, bless him …. ”

    I’ve appreciated Benedict and will always be grateful for S.P. and what it means for the TLM.

    Had the privilege to meet then Cardinal Ratzinger once on street in Rome while walking with another priest friend who knew him. Great memory and first impression. I admired his work at the CDF.

    For all of the great Benedict did for the Church, he *knew* this McCarrick mess first, and earliest and at one point, more than any other person in the Church and he stopped short. He then ran away. Hard to respect those facts under any read. The Shepherd abandoned the sheep.

  9. Mike says:

    I can’t do counterfactuals just now. At this point I can barely do factuals.

  10. msc says:

    I would not dare to say that Benedict “ran away” and abandoned us. I give him credit for realizing he was too frail to deal with the challenges ahead, rather than holding on failing to deal with what needed dealing with. I also will not presume to know whom Benedict wanted as his successor, but we cannot judge him by the choice that the conclave, and the Holy Spirit made. I am saddened that he failed in dealing with McCarrick properly by ensuring that his prescribed penalties were enforced, but I will not judge him when I do not understand all the circumstances. I respect and love him enough to not do that.

  11. Uxixu says:

    I am forced to suspect that the rot is deep in the hierarchy of those who know only knew about McCarrick but most fearfully doubt he was the only one. How many more all but open sodomites are lurking in the not just the American hierarchy but worldwide, much less in the Curia? Perhaps McCarrick and/or his supporters either subtly let this be known and/or one can well see that Benedict XVI realized this by other means and didn’t want to be the one to pull the pin on the grenade or be known as the pope who saw the need to depose half or more of the Cardinals and bishops, if not priests. Yet that is exactly what must be done. Any and every unchaste cleric guilty of sodomy in Orders, be he a cardinal or a simple priest, should be deposed and laicized.

    It must be something of that magnitude or his unwillingness to simply fire, if not publicly laicize the likes of not only McCarrick but Cardinals Bertone, Levada and/or anyone else who dared obstruct his command would be outrageously impotent for the heir of St. Peter to allow himself to be thrwarted for less.

    Sancte Petrus Damiani, ora pro nobis.
    Kyrie eleision.

  12. crjs1 says:

    The politicisation of the reaction to the abuse scandal and Viganò testimony is utterly depressing and takes away from the key crisis that children and young people were abused and the abuse was systematically covered up.

    The just condemnation of Pope Francis should be matched with condemnation of all involved and indeed Pope Benedict. By not making public and enforcing sanctions on McCarrick, and not handing him and others over to civil authorities Pope Benedict made a terrible error. It is frankly hypocrisy that Pope Francis is rightly being criticised but many on the ‘conservative’ side are at pains not to criticise Pope Benedict and John Paul II who appointed many of the abusers.

  13. tskrobola says:

    Benedict blew it…..sorry, but its that simple.

  14. APX says:

    If you knew you were going to fall, you’d sit down first. Hindsight is 20/20.

  15. defenderofTruth says:

    Rod Dreher points that that for all his great qualities, Benedict was rather weak in terms of discipline. I can emphasize with him, because there are times when my lack of decisive action at a problem’s inception created a much bigger problem later on. That was a weakness not a few people actually pointed out during his Pontificate.

  16. CasaSanBruno says:

    This secret castigation methodology is a novelty and – like most novelties in the Church – not a good one.

    We ought not forget that the nefarious Marcial Maciel received the same secret order to a live of prayer and penance, but on May 19th, 2005, the internal communique was leaked by someone in the CDF. And that didn’t go very well. Maciel kept on living the high life on someone else’s dime to the bitter end.

  17. McCall1981 says:

    “The Catholic News Agency has confirmed that former cardinal Theodore McCarrick moved out of a seminary in the Washington archdiocese in 2008, living for a short time in a parish rectory before moving again into a home owned by a religious order just outside Washington. The move out of Redemptoris Mater seminary coincides with the timing cited by Archbishop Vigano for disciplinary action by Pope Benedict XVI.“


  18. maternalView says:

    It’s clear to me that everyone including Popes have been infected with the “niceness” attitude. It’s so seductive. No one wants anyone to have to really suffer permanent consequences. So even Benedict didn’t want to do the hard thing.

  19. Phil B says:

    I wonder about McCarrick’s statement in the video that no one was talking about Bergoglio in the conclave, seeing as he had been a contender in the previous one, and of course the activities of the St. Gallen Mafia.

  20. r7blue1pink says:


    Is it possible that Levada is a key player in this but is being downplayed?

    Levada was KNOWN to cover up abuse. Was KNOWN to be a supporter of LGBT rights. And was KNOWN to get Mahoney into the conclave…

    If the cases were run through the CDF– LEVADA would have been the one to make the decision regarding whether or not to laicize McCarrick or what penalties would be imposed… Clearly they were soft penalties.

    WHO lifted those penalties? Mueller? Even if Francis did lift them, wouldnt it have gone through the CDF?

  21. r7blue1pink says:

    Again, WHY are we not looking at Levada!!??

    “If the accusation is considered credible, it is required that the case be referred to the CDF. Once the case is studied the CDF will indicate the further steps to be taken. At the same time, the CDF will offer direction to assure that appropriate measures are taken which both guarantee a just process for the accused priest, respecting his fundamental right of defense, and care for the good of the Church, including the good of victims. In this regard, it should be noted that normally the imposition of a permanent penalty, such as dismissal from the clerical state, requires a penal judicial process. In accord with canon law (cf. CIC can. 1342) the Ordinary is not able to decree permanent penalties by extrajudicial decree. The matter must be referred to the CDF which will make the definitive judgement on the guilt of the cleric and his unsuitability for ministry, as well as the consequent imposition of a perpetual penalty (SST art. 21, §2).

    The canonical measures applied in dealing with a cleric found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor are generally of two kinds: 1) measures which completely restrict public ministry or at least exclude the cleric from any contact with minors. These measures can be reinforced with a penal precept; 2) ecclesiastical penalties, among which the most grave is the dismissal from the clerical state.

    In some cases, at the request of the cleric himself, a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, including celibacy, can be given pro bono Ecclesiae.”


  22. Lurker 59 says:

    The degree of culpability of Pope Benedict XVI in all of this isn’t worth much focus as what Pope Benedict did and what Pope Francis did are different species. Remember Pope Francis is accused of protecting, encouraging, fostering, and promoting these monsters, namely Mr. McCarrick.

    Here is something important with the methodology that was going on prior to the Card. Ratzinger and then later Pope Benedict XVI working quietly to rectify the situation. Homosexuality was largely treated as a psychological issue in the mid to late 20th century. When there were problems with priests, they would be sent to a psychologist as part of the Church trying to deal with the issue. DSM II began the process of dropping homosexuality as a psychological disorder with DSM III dropping the classification altogether (1980’s). Modern psychoanalysis would then give way to seeing homosexuality as a “normative” aspect of some individuals with the psychological stress attributed to other causes (such as dissonance resulting not being accepting of one’s own homosexuality).

    SO, when good bishops would follow the methodology of sending homosexuality priests to a psychologist, they would come back with a clean bill of health and that the aberrant behavior of the priest wasn’t the result of their homosexuality (which needed to be accepted and expressed).

    That is just part of the problem as to why abusive priests were not being flushed out of the system — the rot really is massively deep and extends way beyond the institutional Church.

    Where we are at now is very different than were Pope Benedict XVI was when he was trying to get a handle on the problem. Here now is very much a situation where the powers at be are not getting a handle on the problem but making it worse, intentionally.

    The laity really needs to keep hammering that the physical abuse (homosexual activity) and spiritual abuse (refusal to hand on unadulterated the Gospel) all wrapped up in one giant abuse of power, that reaches to the top, needs to stop. All these “open secrets” need to be fully brought into the open.

  23. teomatteo says:

    Is it too much to hope that ben.XVI is writting his memoirs to be published post hum.??? Not sure if i would want to have the manuscript in my possesion very long. If you get my meanimg?

  24. Bellarmino Vianney says:

    McCarrick’s speech posted above has more possible hints that should be looked into by journalists or others.

    Beginning at the 14:45 mark, McCarrick discusses his friendship with Bergoglio. McCarrick said (in 2013) that he was living at a religious community in Washington D.C. which was founded in Argentina, and that he use to discuss Bergoglio with the residents.

    Apparently, according to a CNA article, this religious community is known as the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE). There is another website covering the IVE which indicates that McCarrick traveled to Argentina for ordinations of IVE seminarians. IVE’s founder was Fr. Buela, who was another homosexualist and abuser.

    Did Bergoglio know of McCarrick even before Vigano’s audience with him in 2013? What about Buela’s connections?

    Though this is a bit of a side-note, after the Conclave which “elected” Bergoglio, some of Italy’s media dubbed Cardinal Wuerl the “Pope-maker” of Bergoglio. Wuerl and McCarrick are known to be acquaintances (at minimum).

    From one website: “La Repubblica, Italy’s largest-circulation daily newspaper, reported on Friday [March 15, 2018] that Wuerl led a coalition of American cardinals and those from other countries in supporting the candidacy of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina.”

    Something? Or nothing?

  25. MrsMacD says:

    So, if these are spawn of Bella Dodd’s commies, we’re looking at an infiltration of the church that has gone right to the top, since obviously Bergoglio is McCarrick’s boy. Crazy. What is going on? Father, what if Pope Francis didn’t become a priest, bishop, Pope because he loves Jesus but because he wanted to change the teachings of the church into the teachings of the Ego, Satan and the World? What if he’s one of the vicious homosexuals?

    We’re simple people Father. We strive to live a life conformed to Christ and we’re poor sinners that fail, sometimes. We go to Mass, frequent confession, receive Jesus in Holy Communion, try to say our rosary and keep our house clean, it’s a struggle and we sometimes sin, but we up and do it again. I know Jesus said he’d be with us ’till the end of time, and it’s all I got, Jesus isn’t lying. His Church is the only Church. He alone has the words of eternal life.

    That said sometimes I feel like I’m not sure what is going on with my beloved Church. The boat is rocked and I want to cry, “Save us Lord, lest we perish.”

  26. Andrew says:

    Had Benedict XVI made the sanctions known …

    Advice from St. Jerome to a bishop who was being overly patient with some heretics:

    Many don’t like that you are so patient with the heinous heresy thinking that those who are clenching the Church’s soul can be amended by your mildness: the brethren are concerned that while you await the repentance of some, you foster the audacity of the wicked, and the faction gains strength.

    Here is Jerome’s beautiful Latin:

    Beatissimo Papae Theophilo Hieronymus:
    Super nefaria haeresi, quod multam patientiam geris et putas Ecclesiae visceribus incubantes, tua posse corrigi lenitate, multis Sanctis displicet: ne dum paucorum poenitentiam praestolaris, nutrias audaciam perditorum, et factio robustior fiat.

  27. Has anyone gone back and looked at McCarrick’s public personae during the period he was supposedly suppressed? I was not a follower of his specifically, but I don’t remember him disappearing from the public eye at all?

  28. JabbaPapa says:

    philothea.distracted :

    Has anyone gone back and looked at McCarrick’s public personae during the period he was supposedly suppressed? I was not a follower of his specifically, but I don’t remember him disappearing from the public eye at all?

    The story seems to be that, apart from being kicked out of the seminary, McCarrick basically just ignored the sanctions entirely — which BTW might technically have been his right as a Cardinal, given the lack of public knowledge of their existence, given that it is hard to see who in the US could have canonically imposed his Authority over him even had they been aware of their existence.

    It seems that we’ve learned from this that even though secret sanctions might very well be useful against most Bishops, reprimands against Cardinals need to be public ones.

    I suppose that the Dean Cardinal Sodano of the Sacred College of Cardinals could and should have intervened against McCarrick’s flouting of those sanctions — but then he too stands accused by Viganò of being a leader and facilitator of the homoheretics …

  29. snegopad says:


    I fully agree wit you—with all that you wrote,
    and especially: “What if he’s one of the vicious homosexuals? “— -thats exactly for what I wait to come out since all these comings out—

Comments are closed.