McCarrick Laicized: The End of the Beginning

McCarrick Laicized: The End of the Beginning February 16, 2019

McCarrick in 2008
McCarrick in 2008 (World Economic Forum CC BY-SA 2.0

Today, Mr. Theodore McCarrick is no longer a cleric: he has no right to celebrate any of the sacraments and cannot present himself as a priest or bishop. This is the end of the road for him as far as what the Church can do. The recent scandal – based on episcopal misbehavior and a wink wink attitude to sexually active clerics – began when credible and sustained accusations against him came out last June. McCarrick was removed from ministry and resigned as a Cardinal. Right after, all kinds of stories began circulating in public about things that had been only said in private but seemed widely known before: McCarrick also abused seminarians. Priests I know from several states away knew about these accusations a decade ago.

This is the end for him, but it cannot be the end of resolving the underlying issues.

McCarrick Laicized

As Crux reported early this morning:

The Vatican announced Saturday that Pope Francis has approved the removal of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the clerical state, colloquially known as “laicization” or “defrocking.” […]

A Vatican statement Saturday said McCarrick had been found guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

The statement also said McCarrick was notified of the verdict on Friday. According to the statement, Pope Francis has recognized the decision as “definitive” with no possibility of appeal.

The end of dealing with McCarrick personally reminds me of a Churchill Quote from 1942 – partway through WWII), which I think is applicable.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

What Still Needs to Happen

We still have the meetings next week in Rome which will deal with sexual abuse of minors. Even those are insufficient. The issue is now the coverup and other twisted sexual relationships priests or bishops engage in. We need to eliminate all kinds of misconduct and coverup, not just priests on minors.

Even before the revelations about McCarrick came out, I wrote about how we Catholics are often naïve about sexual immorality. In the meantime, several priests have approached me anonymously to speak about how in their dioceses, people pretend to ignore priestly misbehavior even when it is pretty blatant and known. We have also seen how other bishops besides McCarrick were treated after accusations in ways so soft that they would have been unthinkable for priests in the current environment. I don’t have exact practical solutions to resolve these issues but we need to resolve them. The Catholic Church is the bride of Christ so we must cleanse her of such filth. Then, we can really set forth to evangelize this culture.

Note: I wrote most of this in preparation, and between writing it and the event happening, I saw John Allen Jr. made a similar commentary.

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