A Cardinal Accused

Richard Sipe has written a letter to Pope Benedict XVI accusing Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of preying upon seminarians and young priests.

This sexual aberration is not generated from the bottom up—that is only from unsuitable candidates—but from the top down—that is from the sexual behaviors of superiors, even bishops and cardinals.

The problem facing us in the American church is systemic.

He continues:

While I was Adjunct Professor at a Pontifical Seminary, St. Mary’s Baltimore (1972-1984) a number of seminarians came to me with concerns about the behavior of Theodore E. McCarrick then bishop of Metuchen New Jersey. It has been widely known for several decades that Bishop/Archbishop now Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick took seminarians and young priests to a shore home in New Jersey, sites in New York, and other places and slept with some of them. He established a coterie of young seminarians and priests that he encouraged to call him “Uncle Ted.” I have his correspondence where he referred to these men as being “cousins” with each other.

Catholic journalist Matt C. Abbott already featured the statements of two priests (2005) and one ex-priest (2006) about McCarrick. All three were “in the know” and aware of the Cardinal McCarrick’s activities in the same mode as I had heard at the seminary. None of these reporters, as far as Abbott knew, had sexual contact with the cardinal in the infamous sleepovers, but one had first hand reports from a seminarian/priest who did share a bed and received cards and letters from McCarrick. The modus operendi is similar to the documents and letters I have received from a priest who describes in detail McCarrick’s sexual advances and personal activity. At least one prominent journalist at the Boston Globe was aware of McCarrick from his investigation of another priest, but until now legal documentation has not been available. And even at this point the complete story cannot be published because priest reporters are afraid of reprisals.

Your Holiness, you must seek out and listen to these stories, as I have from many priests about their seduction by highly placed clerics, and the dire consequences in their lives that does end with personal distess.

I know the names of at least four priests who have had sexual encounters with Cardinal McCarrick. I have documents and letters that record the first hand testimony and eye witness accounts of McCarrick, then archbishop of Newark, New Jersey actually having sex with a priest, and at other times subjecting a priest to unwanted sexual advances.

Your Holiness, you must seek out and listen to the stories, as I have from many priests about their seduction by highly placed clerics, and the dire consequences in their lives that does end in their victimization alone.

Such behavior fosters confusion and makes celibacy problematic for seminarians and priests. This abuse paves the way for them to pass the tradition on—to have sex with each other and even with minors.

Update: Mark Shea takes issue with those, including Rod Dreher, who are disappointed that Pope Benedict has taken no disciplinary action against bishops involved in the scandal. The pope can’t “micromanage” the world church, says Shea. “Micromanage”? He is the supervisor of the bishops. He’s their only superior. He is their manager. “Micromanaging” would be if the pope got involved in personnel decisions regarding priests. “Managing” is when he holds senior management accountable for dishonorable action. And as Rod points out in rejoinder, it seems he’s willing to do that in the case of a Paraguayan bishop who ran for, and has been elected to, public office. If he can laicize him for that, how do you explain his failure to take canonical action against Thomas Dupre, for example?

Update: Gerald Augustinus joins the discussion, with some more links.