Cardinal McCarrick. Or should I say, ex-Cardinal McCarrick.
Lord have mercy.
I assume you’ve all heard about this “demotion” and the lurid, sordid tales that spurred it, decades and decades too late to spare his numerous victims harm.
This was the story waiting for me on my return from a week away. I stayed with dear friends of mine in their home, a place so dear to my heart and so soothing to my soul that beforehand I unironically referred to the planned visit as “my retreat.”
One of the things I treasure about this friendship is that there’s no pretending, no hiding from brokenness. The world is full of the difficult, the painful, the hurtful. Good things must be worked for, protected, nourished, and fought for.
These are the things we talk about, in the quiet evening. We speak of the good we’ve seen in men and women…and the evil. We name our fears, hopes, griefs, and joys, and it frees and strengthens us to love good more fiercely.
From this retreat into friendship, I came home to find my Facebook abuzz about ex-Cardinal McCarrick and the possibility of a widespread cover-up. It breaks my heart. It challenges the shaky corners of my faith in the institutional church. It frightens me.
It’s all of a piece, though. Our personal struggles, the wounds of our friends, the widespread cry of #metoo, the revelations of the abuse of power in every industry, every population. It’s all one thing.
Hurt people hurt people. Broken people break people. And limited, inverted personalities try to control and cram the entire rest of the world into shapes that will feed their limited, inverted urges. They eat others to feed the appetites that have already eaten them away into monstrous hollowness.
There is no worse evil to suffer than to have all the potential good and beauty of a human person so warped and turned in on itself that it becomes a destructive force. It is far, far better to suffer evil than to perpetrate it–I believe this with all my heart, as much or more than any article of faith, because everything I have seen and experienced tells me this is true. Those who dedicate themselves to evil are truly, truly pitiable.
But they must not be allowed to hide from justice.
What McCarrick did would have been abusive even were none of his victims underage. The difference between McCarrick and Weinstein is limited to where and with whom they cultivated power and influence to support their appetites, and who those appetites targeted.
Weinstein and his peers appeal to the pieties of the left, using the language of addiction and sexual compulsion and pleading for rehabilitation. McCarrick–and others of his ilk–will invariably talk about sin, temptation, and repentance.
Predators on all sides appeal for “forgiveness.”
Mercy is good. Don’t get me wrong. But we don’t have a right to forgive wrongs done to other people. Nor should we trust a “repentance” that is unaccompanied by any real attempt at penance or recompense.
The price of abuse of power must be the loss of power. The price of hiding sin must be exposure to the light of truth.
We need to be courageous in rooting out sexual harassment and predation wherever it occurs, whoever the perpetrator, whoever the victim. No exceptions.
And no hiding place.