Fr. Murray’s Open Letter to ex-Card. McCarrick. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

My good friend Fr. Gerald Murray of the Archdiocese of New York posted an Open Letter to ex-Cardinal McCarrick, also originally a priest of the same Archdiocese.

Fr. Murray really lays it on the line, in spiritual terms. It’s strong medicine, friends.  I can only hope that McCarrick will read it, that someone cares enough for McCarrick to give it to him.

It is important, as Catholics, that we foster the virtue of charity, concretely expressed.   When we deal with people like McCarrick, and we consider the devastation that they caused, we may have a knee jerk reaction to want them to be crushed, ground up, brought down so far that they they even wonder where their next meal will come from.   That, however, isn’t an authentic Christian reaction.

Charity compels us to desire that which is the true good on another, our neighbor.  McCarrick remains a neighbor.  He has an immortal soul.  We should never desire Hell for anyone.  We should always desire conversion and repentance from objective sinners.   We should also desire authentic mercy for the sinner.  Think about the rejoicing in heaven at the conversion of a sinner.  The greater the sinner, the greater the conversion, the greater the joy, the more God’s glory is magnified.   God brings good from evil.

Authentic mercy does not obliterate justice.   True mercy does not ignore the truth.

Mercy mitigates justice.  Mercy does not abandon truth.  Mercy exalts the truth and then shows forth the love and might of God in setting aside something of what delicts deserve.

“Behold!  Here are the horrible facts.  Behold the truth!  Now consider the magnificent love of our Savior who bore all of that, loves of still, and always offers grace and forgiveness!”

With the love of God in mind, we should long to preserve always the truth when we are concerned even with the more complicated situations we little people can get ourselves into.

God’s justice we are going to get whether we want it or not.  Mercy, however, must be and can be asked for.  God will be merciful, but we must ask for it.   Mercy won’t entirely mitigate justice and will in no way obscure the truth.  But mercy will attenuate what our sins have truly deserved.

Mercy is honored even more when the truth is preserved.  Hence, the greater the fault to which we apply mercy, the greater God’s love is shown to be.   Mercy underscores God’s omnipotence.     In this earthly life, wounded by Original Sin, there is no perfect charity.  There is, here and now, no perfect justice, no perfect mercy.  Yet, we must strive for it, so that we always have a foot in the City of God even while we still sojourn in the City of Man.

Fr. Murray has offered good priestly advice – openly and for all to read – to ex-Card. McCarrick.   He rightly points out the role of truth for him now, in light of the mercy that God will show in his judgement… which, at his age, will be very soon.

Remember, dear readers, that we are going to be judged soon.   Even if in earthly years you are still among those considered “young”, your judgement, in the grand arc of salvation history, is going to be soon.  Life is fleeting.   Our years pass like the burning of dry grass, like the whipping of the loom’s shuttle.

Some of you reading this are really close to your judgment, because of age, health or unforeseen accidents that can strike at any moment.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    God bless Father Murray for not being afraid to tell the truth and ask hard questions.

  2. Ellen says:

    One of my fellow teachers in RCIA always tells the class that God is a merciful God but He is also just so it behooves us not to do stupid and sinful things and if we do, we need to go to confession.

  3. JerseyCatholic says:

    As my user name shows I am from New Jersey and have lived here over 40 years. When my oldest was preparing for her first confession, I was stricken with the knowledge that I, myself, had never, ever been to confession, and I am a cradle catholic. There’s no excuse for it. We had moved a lot when I was a child and that sacrament, occurring as it would have in the 70’s, slipped through the cracks. I remember telling a priest before I was confirmed that I had never been to confession. He did not think it was a big enough deal to do anything about it. As for myself, I just did not know HOW to go to confession.

    Fast forward about 30 years and thanks to (then) Archbishop McCarrick, the archdiocese of Newark set a special date to attempt to bring Catholics back to the sacrament of confession. Pamphlets were put out at my parish and everyone encouraged to take one. The archdiocese set aside a whole day of reconciliation. I believe the year was 2002 or 2003. I knew I could not ask my daughter to do something I was not willing to do myself. I studied the pamphlet (which I still have), screwed up my courage, and went to confession. I have gone ever since. I remember thanking my priest for the push from the archbishop. I do not believe I would have gone without the express invitation.

    I think of that when I think of McCarrick. I owe him my prayers as thanks for at least being the means to bring me back to the sacrament. Maybe there are others in the archdiocese who came back to confession as well so he can point to us when asked if he ever changed lives for the better while on earth. I hope so. So many priests have come thru the doors of our parish over the years and I shudder to wonder if he had ever pulled any stunts on them when I remember them now (makes me sick to think of it.)

    But he did something good (intentionally or not) so I will keep praying for him.

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