Thursday, June 21, 2018

About the Cardinal McCarrick situation: I am angry

Over the past two days, I’ve been digesting the news about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington. What is that news? Well, it’s in two parts:

- The first part was that he has been “credibly” accused of abusing a minor about 50 years ago.
- The second part is that this has occasioned stories about many more allegations of sexual activity on his part with priests and seminarians; meaning that it involved preying on subordinates.

Now, I don’t know if any of this is true. I hope none of it happened; but reading about this has made me sick in my stomach, and angry. Angry at the crimes themselves, if they happened; but even angrier at what seems to have been an “open secret” for many people for so many years.

Given what I’ve been reading, some of which was published at least eight years ago, it seems clear to me that this really was a pretty open “secret.” Which means that all the bishops – in Newark, in New York, in Metuchen, New Jersey and in Washington, D.C. – who are now issuing statements of “sadness” and “shock” – surely knew that McCarrick had been accused of misconduct before. We learned yesterday that at least two allegations, involving adults, had resulted in settlements. What else is there?

Someone might say, but this whole scandal business is old news. Where have you been, Father Fox? 

Where I’ve been is living with it. I remember where I was in 2002, when so much of this fecal matter hit the fan in the U.S. I was in the seminary, preparing for my final year. I was interviewed by the local paper for my reaction to the awful things we were all hearing about. And I remember what I said: that all I could do was strive to be a good, holy priest. Of course, there was and is more I can do; but that was my answer as a seminarian.

So why is this making me so angry, 16 years later? Because it is 16 years later, and we’re still dealing with cover-ups!

Every day – every single day – as a priest, I live with the consequences of the abominable crimes committed by a small number of priests and bishops, but which were facilitated by many bishops, either by active connivance, or by neglect, or by covering it up. This gets called a “priest” scandal, but that omits the obvious fact that there was a failure of oversight. Without excusing any priest’s crimes, I think the failure of oversight was more culpable, since it so often meant one perverted priest causing such a wide path of destruction.

Let me pause my rant here and say something about silence. If anyone wonders, I have not been silent. As a priest, I am required by law, and by Archdiocesan policy, to report any information I receive (outside the seal of confession) to proper authorities. In my 15 years as a priest, I have been given such information many times; and every single time I have reported it both to local law enforcement, and to the Archdiocese. There are ways this whole process is awkward, and I can go into that if desired. Many times the information was very sketchy, so I doubt what I passed along was much help; but I reported it.

At no time have I been aware of any priest or seminarian engaging in any misconduct – other than, of course, something I learned in the news media. Sometimes people voice suspicions, but I can’t take that seriously when there is a total absence of facts.

I mention all this simply because someone might be thinking, well, what about you, Father Fox? Have you been part of this culture of silence? This is my answer.

So back to the main theme of my rant. I’m angry about what looks like a continuing culture of silence. Look: I respect confidentiality. People need and expect a priest to be able to keep his mouth shut. People confess their sins to God, in the presence of a priest, only because they are assured we remain silent, and that is right. People come to us, outside the confessional, with troubles and embarrassing problems, and they only feel safe doing that because they count on our discretion. And they should be able to do that. I am very good at keeping secrets.

But that’s not what this is! This is something else. If I were a bishop, and this sort of information reached my ears, I would look into it. I wouldn’t wait for someone to find me; I’d find those who could give me first-hand information. It would be my job to make it easy for them to share their stories. What’s more, I would do what I could to get someone in Rome to take an interest as well.

Maybe the bishops who knew about these McCarrick stories did all these things. But very honestly, I doubt it. And if I were advising the bishops in the dioceses directly affected by all this, I would tell them: “Do you want people to believe you? You need to address whether you knew about all these stories, and how you responded to them. People are going to be very dubious that you could be utterly unaware of all these allegations.”

The whole Church suffers from these crimes and the wounds they cause. One of the wounds is that people lose trust and become cynical. Maybe I am naïve; maybe it’s just that I’ve been focusing on my parish and my ministry, and I usually don’t want to dabble in gossip and innuendo. But today, this really has me upset, and I believe our bishops, and those in Rome who are concerned with these things, absolutely must answer the concerns of the faithful about how much of this covering-up is still going on. Get all the poison out. The pope knows there are perverts in high places; he himself referred to a “gay lobby” in the Vatican. (And just to be clear, while a lot of this is homosexual corruption, not all of it is. There is heterosexual corruption too.) So it’s time to answer the question:

What are we doing about it?

There are so many other thoughts, but it will exhaust me to write them all down, and it would exhaust you to read them. It breaks my heart to think of people wondering if their priest is some sort of pervert, preying on kids. I recall the time an individual came to me, and revealed he had been abused by a priest, many years before, in that same parish. It broke my heart, and I begged him for forgiveness. Last night the seminarian staying here this summer and I took our “MC”s – that is, the older altar boys who lead the others – out for wings as a thank you for all they do. Does anyone think there was anything improper? It makes me ill to think of it.

How much of a problem are we talking about? Priests are men, prone to all temptations. Greed is surely a temptation, as is unholy ambition. So is the desire for approval. I am tempted to laziness, to seeking too many comforts, to gluttony, to pride and wrath and arrogance, and to lust. The story goes around of a man in confession asking the priest, “Father, do you ever get old enough that you don’t experience lustful thoughts?” “Yes,” the priest assured him – “about 30 seconds before you die!”

Maybe I am naïve, but I do believe most priests try to be faithful. But I am sure some are living in situations that are gravely immoral, either with wealth gotten through theft or deception, or with a girl- or boyfriend on the side, or with other perversions. I can imagine the rationalizations. And I have no doubt that some number of clergy have looked the other way regarding others’ misdeeds, either because of fear, which is somewhat understandable, or because of cynicism or laziness, which is far less so. Many more priests are wrestling with sin, just as you are, and trying their best with prayer and spiritual direction and the sacraments to overcome them.

Inevitably, someone will say, “This is why I left the Catholic Church!” or, “This is why you should!” That makes no sense to me. I was raised Catholic, I left at 19 and came back at 29. I came back not because I thought the Church had especially holy bishops and priests; no, not even because I thought the ordinary person in the pew was especially holy. No, I chose to re-embrace my Catholic Faith for one very simple reason: I became convinced that Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church, and I wanted to be in the Church that is his mystical Body.

It is not “okay” that the Church has so many wounds; but it is not a new problem. Rather, it is a very ancient problem. Jesus himself dealt with it from the very beginning. Throughout the history of the Faith, we always have individuals who cry out against the sins of Christians, clergy, religious and laity. It is almost a constant. And yes, many movements that broke away from Rome did so precisely because of immorality and corruption. Tell me: has any that made its own way conquered these problems? Show me.

While I was writing this, I heard the church bells ring three o’clock, telling me I needed to get over to lead the Divine Mercy chaplet and then hear confessions. To my surprise, there was a long line waiting for me. In between penitents, I found myself wondering why there was so many, unusual for a summer afternoon. Then a thought occurred to me: is God telling me something? I want to marinate in my anger, but perhaps caring for others is a better route.

So I come back to what I told that reporter in 2002: my best response to all this is to strive all the more for my own holiness. I am a sinful man, but I am trying to be faithful. Other priests too, many heroically. Pray for us and let us help each other in holiness. It may not seem fair, but while corruption taints other parts of the Body, the one thing no one can stop you and me from doing is to contribute that much more our own prayer and penance.

28 comments:

rcg said...

I feel sorry for all good preists, and the not so good ones.

Anonymous said...

Heart-felt, honest reflection, Father—it must have cost you greatly to write this. Thank you and may God grant you the peace you so deserve.
Praying, praying...

Heather said...

Thank you for writing this, Father. I am grateful for the many faithful priests in the Church, while I am disgusted at the corruption and failures of the bishops. It is so damaging to the body of Christ. Prayer and penance, as you say...

Anonymous said...

The same anonymous 11:02...
Just to add a bit of perspective to those of us laity who have over the years been so angry about Church corruption (me first), a personal story: My best friend, a serious prayer warrior, is married to a deacon in her church who is also a licensed family therapist. 20 years ago she discovered him in an affair with an office staffer. After much counseling and promises for reform, their marriage survived. Four years later, in the middle of the night at a hotel where they were staying on a trip to officiate a friend’s marriage, she discovered him deeply immersed in internet pornography. That same night he told her he was in another affair with one of his counseling clients.

Well, that affair ended, but not the late night pornography. He never took the trouble to address the addiction illness and thus it remains “hidden”. Since his clinical practice is private, so are his secrets hidden from public exposure.
The marriage has survived, God only knows how. His wife, my friend, calls it an illness (which, of course it is), and says that if he had cancer or diabetes, she would stay in the sacrament of marriage, so why not with this illness?
Perhaps some wisdom is buried there, I don’t know. But I couldn’t have done it, just as I can’t tolerate McCarrick’s wrongdoing. EXPOSE THE SIN AND GET HELP before more innocent people are hurt!

christine said...

Well...unfortunately it looks like this leads right to the top. A public letter was written to BXVI. Anyone can make that case and the church would take a final blow. It's already crumbling down.
I'm so disgusted with current leadership I am trying to maintain my faith in spite of it. The USCCB is more interested in RRS having enough refugees to keep them in business so they are lobbying hard to keep the borders open and throwing their moral weight behind it. Then PF chimes in. We have become a social justice church. May it crumble. Whatever is left standing will be true church.

Rev. Stephen Hamilton said...

I thank you, Father, for writing this. I too must admit anger. In fact, I have been surprised at how much anger has risen in me with this particular piece of news about Cardinal McCarrick. I guess I thought I had become calloused and a bit immune since the terrible days of 2002. And now more... and the more was something it seems many people knew about for a long time. This is embarrassing and dispiriting. I am tired of wondering the same things you described: does anyone wonder or have suspicions when I am engaged in entirely legitimate and pure interactions with parishioners, minors, altar boys, etc. I am tired of having to think this way. And to think that I have expended energy on the fallout while apparently at least one Prince of the Church has been living high on the hog, full of power, and living duplicitously -- while others knew about it! -- is just so aggravating and disgusting. I can't escape that with this weekend's observance of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist that maybe, like the wild, unconventional prophet himself -- I need to indict the malaise of the mainstream Church at all levels. Look at us. We are comfortable. We all dress like and appear like our contemporaries and say the right things. We are "tolerant" and accommodating. Didn't a certain midwest Cardinal just speak to the USCCB advocating such limp dialogue? Enough! How or why do we bother celebrating a wild prophet in camel's hair and eating locusts when most people (in the pews) and most of leadership (cardinals, bishops) wants a comfortable franchise we call "Church." Enough! It is time to be bold. It is time to make enemies. It is time to let the truth cut like a knife. The Church cannot be authentic if we maintain the status quo. It is time to deal with the wounds and permit a smaller, more faithful Church to stand without the deadweight we have been carrying for far too long. And now I am ranting. I am sorry. Lord, help us!

Therese said...

I'm sorry too, Father. The cardinal was permitted to hide his crimes because he was 'useful'. Now that he has been exposed, he is useful for discrediting the priesthood as a whole. Should this succeed we will have fewer priests than ever--please, Fathers, stay the course.

Sandra said...

Sexual sin, especially unnatural sexual sin, is strange. Becaise it is so powerful, and usually has to be fled rather than just born through, when it is repeatably presented, it is often a symptom of something else that needs to be addressed directly. A red flag to indicate another problem. I think Malachi 2 is very illuminating in this case.

My covenant with (Levi) was a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him, that he might fear; and he feared me, he stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction[b] was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction[c] from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction;[d] you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction.”

The terrible thing is this scandal is going to happen again and again. Because true teaching still not on the lips of Catholic priests.

jkusske said...

I am very pessimistic about the Church's ability to reform its system of governance in order to deal with this problem. It is evident to me that hierarchy leads to abuse in this area. I sincerely believe that the laity need to be more involved in the running of The Church at all levels. I think an ecumenical council is the only instrument that could deal effectively with a reform of this kind. That may not happen within the immediate future, but I believe another council is inevitable within the next half century, and I pray that it may be as effective as Trent proved to be.

Patti Day said...

This travesty must not be allowed to drag on interminably. An investi-gation must be undertaken and those complicit in allowing it to continue must be brought to justice, no matter how high it reaches in the hierarchy. I recall reading about the thick file Pope Emeritus Benedict handed to Francis just after his election, outlining the same problems in the curia. What ever happened to that file? Were any changes made? What about the drug and sex fueled parties held in the Vatican, with names publicized by the police? One of the named clerics was sent to a rehab center and beyond that, were any changes made? What about the prominent cleric, whose sexual abuse of his own nephew was made public, and because of his friendship with Pope Francis, he moved freely about as if nothing had even happened. Meanwhile we have cardinals and bishops telling us that we need to welcome the problem into our parishes explaining to our children that it's ok because Christ loves the sinner. If we don't get this filth out of our churches, there will be a terrible price to be paid, and it won't be merely financial.

Anonymous said...

SO HEARTBREAKING FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE SUFFERED... SEXUAL ABUSE ,.(I KNOW PERSONALLY,...HOW IT AFFECTS YOU...) ..ESP,,,BY CLERGY...THE PAIN IS SO HORRENDOUS...HEAVEN HAS WARNED AND WARNED FOR COUNTLESS YEARS...(READ THE BOOK AA-1025)...THAT THOUSANDS OF FRENCH FREEMASONS ENTERED INTO THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH ..TO TRY TO DESTROY THE CHURCH FROM WITHIN,,) .AND NOW ARE IN THE HEIRARCHY.,..SO MCCARRICK COULD BE ONE OF THEM....JESUS' CHURCH...IS BEING LOOKED DOWN UPON BECAUSE OF WHAT WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING ARE DOING..TODAY...WHO ARE NOT EVEN GOD'S TRUE PRIESTSONS...JESUS HAS TOLD VISIONARIES...THAT IF THEY DO NOT REPENT...HE WILL WIPE THEM AND THE EVIL THEY DO OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH...SEVERAL DAYS AGO..TWO TORNADOES...UNNOUNCED,, ,CAME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT..WIPED A MALL OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH...AND STACKED TRUCK UPON TRUCK...JESUS HAS SAID...THE GREAT STORM OF CLEANSING...HAS BEGUN....AND HE SAID THAT BACK IN 1988.....THE CLERGY...MUST BE ANGRY....BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE...WEAR A COLLAR...AND IT BADLY REFLECTS ON THEM...AS IF THEY ARE ALL BAD...NOT SO...NOT TRUE...,REMEMBER THEY WILL ANSWER TO GOD FOR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE...THE CHURCH IS A HOSPTIAL FOR SINNERS...GO TO WWW.JKMI.COM AND READ...ABOUT PROPHECY WHERE JESUS HIMSELF SPEAKS IF CORRUPTION IN HIS CHURCH...AND TELLS US NOT TO LOSE HOPE AND SO MUCH MORE...NOTHING ANYONE CAN SAY CAN ERASE THE SCARS OF SEXUAL ABUSE AND OTHER MANY ABUSES...ONLY GOD'S GRACE CAN HEAL THOSE SCARS...IF PEOPLE SURRENDER THAT PAIN..LET GO AND LET GOD...TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING. JESUS TOLD A VISIONARY...THAT WHEN A CHINA PLATTER BREAKS...IT BREAKS INTO THOUSANDS OF PIECES...YOU CAN GLUE IT TOGETHER...AND THE PLATTER IS TOGETHER ...AND IT IS AS WE ARE...BUT5 THE SCARS...STILL REMAIN.....WE CAN ONLY HEAL ...IF WE SURRENDER THAT PAIN...GOD CAN HEAL IT...WHEN WE FORGIVE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE DONE THESE THINGS TO US...GOD CAN HEAL US...JESUS SAID...LOVE YOUR ENEMIES...FORGIVE THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU...JESUS SAYS,,VENGENANCE IS MINETH SAYETH...THE LORD....LET HIM PUNISH THEM...IT WILL BE FAR GREATER THAN WHATEVER YOU CAN DO...TO THEM...GO TO WWW.JKMI.COM AND GET THOSE BEAUTIFUL DEVOTIONS AND PROMISES THAT JESUS...HIMSELF HAS GIVEN....AGAIN...SURROUNDED BY THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF MIRACLES....JESUS HAS SAID...THE MIRACLES WILL INCREASE...LOOK AT CORPUS CHRISTI SUNDAY...BILLIONS OF BILLIONS OF ROSE PETALS...SHOWERED...DOWN...FROM HEAVEN...ST. THERESA'S PROMISE...TOOK PLACE INSIDE OF CHURCH OF THE PHILIPINES...RECENTLY IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE END OF HOLY MASS...ROSE ;PETALS SHOWERED DOWN......DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY IN THAT SAME COUNTRY....10,000 WITNESSED A MIRACLE OF THE SUN WHICH TURNED...24 FIREY GOLD....THEN BLOOD RED AROUND IT....DANCING LIKE THE FATIMA...SUN....THOUSANDS WERE CONVERTED..THOUSANDS WERE CURED BY GOD...REMEMBER THESE EVIL LEADERS WHO INFILTRATED INTO THE CHURCH....ARE GOING TO TRY TO DESTROY JESUS' CHURCH BY MAKING IT LOOK BAD...SO KEEP ALL OF THIS IN MIND....GOD THE FATHER SAYS...TO PRAY FOR...EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND PRECIOUS CHILD....NOW...AND TO PLEAD JESUS' PRECIOUS BLOOD...ON THE SOULS, SPIRITS AND BODIES....OF EACH ONE ALSO....HEAVEN SAYS...TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE...WATCH THE VOLCANOES ERUPTING...GOD'S ANGER...HE SAYS THE QUAKES AND VOLCANOES WILL BE LIKE DOMINOES...GO AND READ...WORDS TO LUZ DE MARIA....SHE GOT PRAY FOR NICARARGUA...5 DAYS LATER...VOLCANO BLOWS...EDSON GLAUBER...NOW APPROVED HAS MSGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED WITHIN 48 HOURS...AGAIN ..GO TO WWW.JKMI.COM AND READ...JESUS' OWN WORDS...ABOUT THE CORRUPTION WITHIN THE CHURCH...HE SAYS..CLING FAST TO THE HOLY FAITH, HIS MOTHER;S HOLY ROSARY....SEEK REFUGE WITHIN HER IMMACULATE HEART...HE SAYS TERROR...WILL FALL UPON THE WORLD..WHILE CONSCIENCES SLEEP...HE SAYS AFTER HIS JUSTICE IS FINISHED...BECAUSE HE SAYS THE GREAT STORM OF CLEANSING HAS BEGUN...THAT THE RENEWAL IN THE CHURCH, MANKIND AND ALL OF CREATION WILL TAKE PLACE...HE SAYS...DO NOT LOSE HOPE...ALL WILL BE WELL...GOD TRIUMPHS IN THE END....

David Oatney said...

Father, thank you for your fidelity. As it is a difficult time for you to be a priest because of this, as it is difficult for all holy priests, it is also difficult (although I know not to the same degree by any means) for me as a deacon.

People come to you and they ask how they should deal with this, they wonder if they should be Catholic at all. I know the answer to that in my own heart and mind, but when the scandals and never seem to stop, in this age of the 24-hour news cycle it's easy to see how the average lay person becomes very spiritually exhausted, especially when they are not immersed in "churchy" kinds of things like those of us who are ordained tend often to be.

I often want to take people by the hand and tell them that it will be alright, but I don't even know myself that it will be! The only thing that I can be certain of is that Jesus will keep his promise, and will preserve the Church, in a mystical way which we do not fully understand, from spot or wrinkle when he returns at the Final Consummation.

Unknown said...

Very honest reflection on the pockets of embarrassments (wounds of the church) to the body of Christ.

John S. said...

Thanks for writing this Father. I've been more consumed with concern about this than I should be. On one hand, it isn't by business whether anyone else is sinning, on the other, it worries me to keep hearing about these "open secrets" in other dioceses and even in our own.

I would love some strong comments from leadership on this stuff.

Anonymous said...

The continued revelations are horrifying. I am angry too at my own Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for covering up sexual misconduct and malfeasance by the former Archbishop who was fired. They have a report that was commissioned by a local law form (costing over $100K!) that they have refused to release. You can be if it had been exonerating it would have been published on the front page of the Catholic Spirit. Where is the leadership in this Church?

Terry Nelson said...

Thanks for your honesty Fr. and taking the time to write this. I too am very shaken by this - very much moved to contrition - I would have been in the confession line if I was at your church. Thank you for your fidelity and devotion.

Tony said...

Dear Father,

blessings and shared feelings from a cradle Catholic. I am 52 years old, lapsed from the Roman Church as a young man, and came back with my wife (a protestant who converted). We are raising our children as Roman Catholics. I feel this McCarrick matter as very nearly the last straw. It may even be the last straw. Of course, I respect your reason for remaining:

"I became convinced that Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church, and I wanted to be in the Church that is his mystical Body"

I am troubled even there. I am indeed convinced that the Lord founded the Church and that he, the Father, and the Holy Spirit continue to animate it. But I am not convinced that I need to remain with the See of Peter in order to remain part of his mystical body. I need to remain with Christ. I do not know why the eucharist is not valid in the orthodox Church. Rome's insistence on the filioque clause is not convincing.

Orthodoxy has its share of historical problems, not least of which is Russian Orthodoxy's subversion by the USSR and its manipulation by the current Russian state. There are other autocephalous patriarchates that strike me as thriving and true. They don't need to be large to impressive me. "Faithful" is plenty enough.

Heart-sick,
T

Fr Martin Fox said...

Tony:

I'm sorry not to answer your comment sooner, but I've been traveling. And I wanted to think about my answer.

Your sadness makes me sad, and I'm sorry you're so overwhelmed. But I think you are hoping for an answer, so here it is:

While the Orthodox Church substantially preserves the Faith, there are differences nonetheless; if there were not, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches would be in communion.

Those differences matter; and if you defect from the Catholic Church, you would be renouncing, in those cases, parts of the Catholic Faith. Now, if you ask me what in particular, I can't say, because there is notable confusion between the various Orthodox Churches, and I am not qualified to speak for any of them. But I think you can expect to be asked to renounce the Pope as the head of the Church; perhaps to renounce the filioque, perhaps to renounce the Immaculate Conception. How do I know? Because somewhere on Youtube is a video of a Catholic priest who was seeking communion in one of the Orthodox Churches, and this is what he was asked to do, and he did so.

Now, if indeed you do not believe what the Catholic Church believes in these matters, but rather, do believe what the Orthodox Church professes, that is one thing. But that is not how you stated the matter above. You gave me the impression that you are someone who believes what the Catholic Church teaches, but you are greatly discouraged by corruption.

If that is the case, do you really think it is a good idea to swear, solemnly, that you do not believe what you believe? Does that not sound like it's own sort of corruption? A very deep one, it seems to me.

Nothing any bishop, priest or even pope is doing now, or is proposing to do, is keeping you from receiving the sacraments validly and fruitfully as a Catholic, with a completely clean conscience. But if you renounce your Catholic Faith -- even as you inwardly try to maintain it -- how can that be anything but spiritually damaging to you?

And should you find that corruption is worse than you realized in the Orthodox Church, what then?

I understand your pain, but I don't see the sense in what you are proposing.

MayYouKnowtheTruth said...


Part 1

What I am about to tell you is not meant to cause scandal, discourage good priests or harm the faithful. I truly believe the time for the whole truth is long overdue and MUST be told. Silence and secrecy only perpetuates the opportunities for more abuse. If we really want a healthier church then we must hear these accounts and good priests must no longer remain silent about what they know of those who abuse and do great harm to the faithful and ultimately the very institution they may believe they are protecting by their silence.

I as well as my younger brother were sexually abused by our parish priest, I was about 12 or 13 when the sexual abuse started, but the grooming process began even earlier.
His physical violence at times was a means to control me as I tried to avoid his presence as much as possible but he only became more angry and controlling. He gave me many gifts, the finest clothes, jewelry, took me on many trips, including a trip to Europe (where in our Rome hotel he beat me because I took a bed in another room and didn't plan to sleep with him). He insisted I confess my sins to him, he always made me apologize for my actions waiting sometimes hours for my anger to subside I would finally give in simply so I could leave.

In 1983 just before I left the seminary (what I experienced at the seminary is another story), I got up the nerve to tell the auxiliary bishop Jerome Pechillo of Newark about my abuse. He did not treat me kindly. Chastised me for referring to him as "Father", instead of "His Excellency", reminding me he was a bishop. He then said I was speaking out because I read an account in the local newspaper about another priest accused of abusing young boys, I knew nothing of what he was talking about at that time. He then said I was angry because my dad had recently died.

He sent me to the Newark Vicar of priests to tell him everything, he explained he was a psychotherapist, he was not. The priest, Father Kenneth Martin, who had abused me by now had moved on to abuse my younger brother. They never removed him from our parish, that is not until Archbishop McCarrick, promoted him to serve as his personal secretary, that's right he was promoted. This, after I told 2 officials of the Newark Archdiocese I and I suspected my younger brother, had been abused for years.

MayYouKnowtheTruth said...

Part 2

After trying to go on with my life and forget, some years later my younger brother began to disclose his abuse. His life began to unravel, my family wanted answers, at this point they didn't know that I too was abused. I met with several priests including the Vicar of Newark Paul Bootkoski, he was compassionate at the time and promised to arrange a meeting with Archbishop McCarrick, needless to say almost a year later, after repeated requests still no meeting. Archdiocesan lawyers said they had immunity by virtue of the Charitable Immunity laws and the Statute of Limitations in NJ. They repeatedly requested a confidentiality agreement which I unequivocally rejected. I told them I would be no different than Judas excepting several pieces of silver to betray Christ by my silence.

I then sent a certified letter to our Archbishop explaining how I am sickened by the total lack of a pastoral response and demanded a meeting indicating that if he failed to meet with me I would have no choice but to take my case to the press. He called me shortly after receiving my letter to arranged a meeting.

I met with then Archbishop McCarrick and Bishop elect Bootkoski. The Archbishop told me he had never met with a clergy abuse victim before and that I helped him understand the suffering such abuse causes. I asked to be allowed to speak with other priests and seminarians to tell my story and the harm which is done when children are sexually abused. He said that would be arranged and the Bishop would reach out to me. I also explained my anger at repeatedly being asked for confidentiality, I would be no different than Judas excepting pieces of silver for my silence, betraying Christ. This I promised would never happen. He promised Fr Martin would not have access to children. It wasn't long at all before I realized none of this was true, not a single promise kept. A week after our meeting I was again asked for confidentiality. Not long after, I saw the Archbishop along with Father Martin surrounded by children at a local hospital pictured in the Diocesan paper.

In my frustration and knowing I had AGAIN been ignored and misled I wrote every US Cardinal and the Vatican Secretary of State (in 1998) about these incidents. Several Cardinals responded including Cardinals Law, Mahoney, Cook, Stafford and the Vatican so, THEY KNEW.

Again, my intent is NOT to scandalize anyone, drive anyone from their faith or bring down our church but to help it heal and become healthy once again. Only the whole truth will begin that process and heal this festering wound in the body of the church.
St Francis of Assisi was asked to "rebuild my Church", he didn't understand this request initially and the request was repeated 2 more times. Finally, he came to understand what our Lord was asking. History does repeat itself...Pope Francis please send Archbishop Scicluna to these shores so you may begin the process of "rebuild my Church".

Mark Crawford

MayYouKnowtheTruth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fr Martin Fox said...

Mark:

I'm so sorry for what happened to you and your brother.

And I'm very sorry I didn't see these comments sooner. I wasn't deliberately withholding them. They were caught in an "awaiting moderation" folder, and I simply hadn't checked it for awhile.

I am deeply ashamed of the crimes some priests committed. And I don't know if this helps, but on behalf of those who ought to apologize and beg your forgiveness, I apologize and I beg your forgiveness.

Fr Martin Fox said...

FYI:

I got a nice response from Mark, who posted the last comment before mine; and he asked me to delete his last comment, which I did at his request.

Becky Duncan said...

Father, I am part of a group of lay people in the Archdiocese of Washington. We have been greatly hurt and saddened by this news about our own (former) Cardinal Archbishop. It has left us a with a wounded fear of trust. We want to trust our priests, but we are having trouble now knowing whom to trust. We have started meeting to ask of ourselves what we as lay people might be able to do to prevent another such injury to the body of Christ. We have agreed that we must start with prayer. Individually we are praying, and we have also started to ask for Masses at many churches to be said for healing for the victims of the abuse (I personally in my intentions include as victims those clergy who learned from McCormick's example to start their own pattern of abuse). I would like to ask you to join us in publicly offering Masses for the healing of the victims.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Becky:

I didn't respond right away because I wanted to think about the whole matter. First, I am sorry for the pain you feel; I think of a lot of people feel it, beyond Washington.

As far as offering Masses: this is, at least in my case, harder than it may seem. Almost all the Masses I offer in my parish are for an intention, which is requested by the parishioners; and there are more parishioners requesting such intentions than there are Masses. So, I am not free to assign intentions of my own choosing, without displacing others. That is the situation with "public" Masses in my parish.

That said, I do offer Mass a few times a month for intentions of my own choosing (i.e., when I offer Mass privately); I routinely offer these Masses either for my family, living and deceased, or else for persecuted Christians. But at your request, I will try to include the intention for victims of abuse on some such occasions. I realize that isn't what you requested, but it is something I can do at present, as well as talk about the problem as I did in my most recent homily.

Don said...

I lost you after the seventh sentence. If you want to be taken seriously....dont type in all caps....and please use legitimate source material.

Don said...

I lost you after the seventh sentence. If you want to be taken seriously....dont type in all caps....and please use legitimate source material.

Don said...

As a deacon, I promised obedience to Christ, his Church and to the Bishop appointed over me. Unfortunately news such as this causes me great consternation and mistrust of the Episcopal. I have become numb to the lawyerly public comments by the USCCB and local diocesan chanceries.

Until a full accounting, an external investigation conducted and full apologies with applied restorative justice is adequately applied...I will be very neutral with advocating for vocations in the Church that many of the loyal faithful dont trust.