America: Cardinal McCarrick Laicised

Pope Defrocks Theodore McCarrick, Ex-Cardinal Accused of Sexual Abuse

Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, was expelled from the priesthood after he was found guilty of sexual abuse.

Pope Francis has expelled Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, from the priesthood, after an expedited canonical process that found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over decades, the Vatican said on Saturday.

It appears to be the first time that a cardinal or bishop in the United States has been defrocked, or laicized, from the Catholic Church, and the first time any cardinal has been laicized for sexual abuse. Laicization, which strips a person of all priestly identity, also revokes church-sponsored resources like housing and financial benefits.

While the Vatican has laicized hundreds of priests for sexual abuse of minors, few of the church’s leaders have faced severe discipline. The move to defrock Mr. McCarrick is “almost revolutionary,” said Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America.

“Now you will see that bishops are also treated like their priests,” Mr. Martens said in a phone interview. “Bishops and former cardinals are no longer immune to punishment. The reverence that was shown in the past to bishops no longer applies.” 

Mr. McCarrick, now 88, was accused of sexually abusing three minors and harassing adult seminarians and priests. A New York Times investigation last summer detailed settlements paid to men who had complained of abuse when Mr. McCarrick was a bishop in New Jersey in the 1980s, and revealed that some church leaders had long known of the accusations.

Francis accepted Mr. McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals in July and suspended him from all priestly duties. He was first removed from ministry in June, after a church panel substantiated a claim that he had abused an altar boy almost 50 years ago.

Mr. McCarrick was long a prominent Catholic voice on international and public policy issues, and a champion for progressive Catholics active in social justice causes.

The move is the most serious sign to date that Pope Francis is addressing the clerical sex abuse crisis in the United States. In October, the pope laicized two retired Chilean bishops accused of sexually abusing minors. In December, Pope Francis removed two top cardinals from his powerful advisory council after they were implicated in sexual abuse cases.

In the statement on Saturday, the Vatican said that the prelate had been dismissed from a clerical state after he was tried and found guilty of several crimes: “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.”   Read original New York Times report here

Comment: 

Is this laicisation of a “Prince of the Church” a sign of things to come?  Is the tide turning?  Is this an indication that the liberal stranglehold on the Church is coming to an end?  Will it help to rein in dissenters and abusers? Share your thoughts… 

44 responses

  1. Too little, too late, I’d say. These complicit prelates will simply lie low for a while hoping it will all die down. I suspect that the Pope had little choice but to defrock McCarrick because of all the public stramash but it remains to be seen who else, if any, will follow suit.

    • Helen,

      Many thanks for posting that link. Archbishop Vigano has hit all the nails on the head there, big time. I’ve copied the introduction to encourage bloggers to visit the link and read the entire piece. Absolutely, a must-read…

      EXTRACT FROM LIFESITENEWS REPORT POSTED BY HELEN…

      February 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Archbishop Carlo Viganò said he is “praying intensely” for the success of the abuse summit happening next week at the Vatican, but he fears that there is “no sign” that Pope Francis, along with organizers, is willing to “attend to the real causes” of the clerical abuse crisis.

      In a Feb. 10 essay published by the National Catholic Register as part of its “Abuse and the Way to Healing” symposium, the former Nuncio to the United States offered some questions that he says reveals a lack of “genuine willingness” to address the crisis.

      Viganò’s first questions concerned the reluctance of those who have planned the February meeting to address the problem of predatory clerical sexual misconduct with non-minors.

      “Why will the meeting focus exclusively on the abuse of minors?” he asked.

      “These crimes are indeed the most horrific, but the crises in the United States and Chile that have largely precipitated the upcoming summit have to do with abuses committed against young adults, including seminarians, not only against minors,” the Archbishop continued.

      Dynamite!

  2. It’s heartbreaking to read about these falls from grace, especially a Prince of the Church bringing such disgrace upon himself and the Mystical Body. What struck me most about the former Cardinal is that he tried to appeal the judgement of the Vatican, which indicates no remorse. It would have been better for him to have remained silent, accept the sentence handed down in a spirit of penance and determine to live out the remainder of his life in prayer and sorrow for his actions in the hope of a more favourable judgement when he stands before God. I noticed this with Cardinal O’Brien as well, the apparent absence of any real understanding of the scandal he had brought upon the Church and souls, it was like he just thought his behaviour to be regrettable rather than detestable.

    The test for the Pope and the Vatican is whether they take similar action against prelates known to them without public and media pressure. Cardinal McCarrick’s case was very public and demanded a response such as we have seen. But what of the others who are less known but equally pernicious? How will matters proceed in their cases?

    Ultimately, though, what really needs to happen is for the Pope and the hierarchy to restore the supernatural order to the Faith by restoring Tradition in its entirety. Decades of conciliar pretend religion/social work has led to this appalling moral collapse. When the Modernists opened the windows of the Church to the world wisdom left the building and the “smoke of Satan” entered in its place. That’s what happens when the religion is divested of its supernatural end in the pursuit of “relevance”.

    • Athanasius,

      A serious and thoughtful post befitting a matter such as the present one, about which I personally find it very hard to be witty.

      What an unholy mess! Rarely can I remember being as depressed, as I have been over the last few months, over the state of our beloved Church. But then it hit me that this is exactly the devil’s strategy and one must not succumb to his wiles.

      At the heart of the present catastrophe there is an error–more often than not fatal–which has overtaken not a few Catholics in the post-Conciliar period. It is to forget that the faith of the Church as it has been taught over the centuries is, first and foremost, true.

      In the run up to, during and after Vatican II, the view became current, if not always stated explicitly, especially in the beginning, that the faith–not the language in which it is couched–could be reformed. (For the record, I am of the view that form and content cannot be completely separated, and thus the framing of the faith in a new language is never going to be an easy undertaking.) Thus, for many, Vatican II became a barely disguised exercise in attempting to edit the faith to make it more palatable to the world. (An exercise in the ridiculous if every there was one, and possible only if one forgets the origins of the enmity of the world and its prince to the Kingship of Jesus Christ.) Hence the interminable discussions on women priests, contraception, communion to the divorced and remarried, and celibacy–to name but four examples–which were such feature of the pontificate of Paul VI. John Paul II inherited this situation, but he enjoined battle largely on paper (apart, maybe, in relation to liberation theology) with a slew of documents which not only had very little practical effect, but probably explain a large part of the present Pope’s perceived allergy to doctrine. Not only, but the Polish Pope’s obsession with novelty served to strengthen the very malaise that he had set out to cure.

      It was into this kind of atmosphere that many a priestly vocation was born in the latter half of the twentieth century. The idea was sewn into many a young seminarian’s mind that perhaps homosexual acts were not wrong after all; that perhaps the Church would soon see sense and abolish celibacy; that perhaps one falls into heaven with the same ease with which one falls into bed, regardless of personal merit; that we don’t need to pray and do penance, for God loves us just as we are; and so on. Thus the certainty of the faith was largely destroyed, a destruction which would be confirmed by what happened to the liturgy as what was hitherto the Church’s most treasured possession, i.e. the so-called Tridentine Mass, was declared beyond the pale.

      The effects of all of this were devastating. Without the certainty of the faith to underpin it, celibate priestly existence is at the mercy of all that the world and its prince have to throw at it, and, make no mistake, he tempts nowhere more willingly or with more determination than at the steps of the altar. And so we end up with cases like McCarrick, O’Brien, and so on.

      All of these cases have one thing in common. At a certain point in their lives, these men ceased believing in the teaching of the Church and strove to change that teaching, positing in the process a monumental falsehood: namely, that the Gospel is one thing, but the teaching of the Church is quite another and is ours to change at our will. In doing so they were, consciously or unconsciously, doing the work of Satan.

      • Prognosticum,

        I found your post very helpful indeed and I recognised so much that I have heard from priests over the years – especially this idea that God loves us no matter, what, his unconditional love is important to remember, the insinuation being that because God loves us, we will be saved. There’s been very little to challenge this, what I think of as a half-truth. We know that God loves us, but he told us that we have to love him as well, and show that love by keeping his commandments. That’s what I mean by half-truth, the second half gets forgotten.

        • How right you are. What is rarely stated is that part of God’s acceptance of us is his desire to change us for the better. No-one can encounter Christ and stay the same. The Gospel itself underlines this time and time again.

      • Prognosticum

        A very concise and insightful post indeed.

        I think what you have just described is Lutheranism gone mad in the Catholic Church. We have all long understood that the New Mass was framed around Luther’s meal service, but what is not so easily grasped by most is that Luther was also the first heretic to spread the error that sin is no obstacle to heaven.

        Yes, Luther taught that man is so fallen in his nature that God fully understands that he cannot refrain from sin. So as far as Luther was concerned, it was sufficient for sinners to believe that Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary was a once-for-all justification for those who believe in Him. In other words, no need to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling”, to quote St. Paul. We can just do whatever we like and then expect heaven at the end because God loves us and knows we can’t help sinning. That was Luther’s contention and we can see why it was, and remains, attractive, if utterly false and deadly to souls.

        Towards the end of his life Luther at least recognised the folly of this false doctrine when he said “By abolishing Confession I took away the first rung on the ladder that leads to heaven”. He knew what he had done.

        Sadly, our Modernist hierarchy, including this present Pontiff, are in love with Luther. Benedict XVI was the first to shock the Church with his advances to Lutheranism, the so-called “Catholic-Lutheran agreement”. But it was Francis who more or less informally canonised the heretic, as the following few paragraphs of this 2016 Tradition in Action report reveal:

        “On October 13, 2016, Pope Francis did not offer one single word in public to honor Our Lady of Fatima. Instead, he chose to receive on that very day 1,000 Lutherans in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican.

        For the event, he ordered that a statue of Martin Luther be erected on the stage in a place of preeminence so that it could preside over the meeting, above and first two rows below.

        Next, he received from the Lutherans a bound copy of the 95 theses with which the heresiarch started his revolt, third row.

        During the meeting he wore two scarves on his neck, one yellow, symbolizing the Papacy, and one light blue, representing Lutheranism, The two were tied together to signify the union between the Conciliar Church and the Protestant heresy.

        Referring to Luther, Pope Bergoglio said: “The Church’s greatest reformers are the saints, in other words the men and women who follow the Word of the Lord and practice it. This is the path we need to take, this is what reforms the church and they are great reformers. They may not be theologians, they may not have studied, they may be humble, but these people’s soul is steeped in the Gospel, it’s full of it and they are the ones who successfully reform the Church. Both in the Lutheran and Catholic Churches there are saints, men and women with a holy heart who follow the Gospel: they are the Church’s reformers.” https://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A700-Luther.htm

        So there it is, the Protestant Reformation resurrected and continued in the Catholic Church under the guise of “conciliar reform”. And we see the bitter fruits of the re-born revolt every day, not only in mass apostasy from the true religion, but in an inevitable widespread loss of moral uprightness amongst the clergy. Take away the supernatural joy of the true faith and man will seek his happiness in other ways, always sinful ways!! This is the present tragedy.

        As regards being depressed about this, we must always know that Our Lord is still in charge of His Church and will restore order in due course. In the meantime, we should take note of Our Lord’s admonition in Matthew 24 concerning the last times, where He says “…and the charity of many will grow cold as they see wickedness abound everywhere.” That’s a reminder to us that we must never lose hope in the midst of the storm, for the Gates of Hell will never prevail no matter how many dead fish start to flow with the current.

  3. I agree with Athanasius (and if Editor would add a new post I’d agree with her just to make her feel better…): Mr. McCarrick, as he is now known, has only one regret: that he got caught.

    I have no confidence that this will alter in any way the planned, attempted demolition of the Catholic Faith, despite the upcoming Synod on clerical abuse, which I cynically expect to be a dog-and-pony show that could be characterized as “NATO”: No Action, Talk Only. After all, every single one of McCarrick’s proteges are still comfortably ensconced, including Cdls. Cupich (“We’re not going to go down that rabbit hole”), Farrell (McCarrick’s roommate, “shocked” at the revelations) (now Camerlengo) and Tobin (“Night-nite, Baby”), and Bishop McElroy of San Diego. And where is the punishment of the despicable sleaze Cdl. Wuerl, a known member of “Teddy’s Boys’ Club” for years? Au contraire, he was personally lauded by Francis when his resignation was finally accepted, and he remains as “Apostolic Administrator” of the Washington DC Archdiocese.

    To be even more cynical, I suspect that Mr. McCarrick was expediently thrown under the FrancisBus to (a) make Francis look good, (b) attempt to quiet down the outrage of the laity, and (c) to support a [specious] claim that these hideous scandals are being resolved quite forcefully through “zero tolerance.”

    Zero tolerance, my foot. More like zero faith, zero integrity, zero virtue, zero fidelity.

    • RCA Victor,

      Your post is a masterpiece in concise “spot on” commentary. From “NATO” – No Action, Talk Only to Zero tolerance, my foot. More like zero faith, zero integrity, zero virtue, zero fidelity I didn’t know whether to laugh at the fact that Papa Francis thinks he can fool us into thinking he is now actually doing something to fix the abuse scandal, or to cry at the disastrous situation in which, as Catholics, we find ourselves.

      I’ve only seen one news report on this today and it’s clear that the media continue to [choose to] be fooled by Francis, keen to push the fake news that he is getting down to business to root out child abusers. Your list proves that lie.

      It will certainly be interesting to see what the report on the February meeting of the Bishops in Rome contains. Not a time for holding one’s breath, that’s for sure.

    • Athanasius,

      Not to let RCA Victor steal your affections, allow me to say that I, too, agree with you. (I’m now off to read your post, but I’m sure I’ll agree) 😀

  4. Of course, while McCarrick has been reduced to the lay state, his close friend and protege Cardinal Kevin Farrell has just been appointed as the new carmellengo (as of 14th Feb).

    So, assuming the pontificate ends with Francis’ death, one of McCarricks gang will then be in a central position as acting sovereign.

    The result is that McCarrick is gone, but his influence and legacy will endure.

  5. While my hopes were never raised that this laicization would make a dent in the corruption of the hierarchy, my hopes were indeed raised – and have been raised several times recently – by the statements of Cdl. Muller, including his latest response to Francis’ Muslim pact with the Devil..

    Well, consider said hopes now dashed, as in his latest Lifesite News interview he states that Pope Francis is “orthodox,” and blames all his scandalous statements on his “advisors.” I can only characterize my response to this with a little humor:

    (Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope left, in that Muller might be playing both sides against the middle in order to confuse his enemies – including the Pope.)

  6. This would make the angels weep, it is as though Our Lord Jesus Christ is being physically crucified over and over again. Everyone on is thread has expressed what happened far better than I could.

    • Theresa Rose

      I think “crucifying Our Lord Jesus Christ over and over again” is as accurate as anyone could state the truth in so few words.

  7. “Is this laicisation of a “Prince of the Church” a sign of things to come?”

    No.

    “Is the tide turning?”

    No.

    “Is this an indication that the liberal stranglehold on the Church is coming to an end?”

    No.

    Will it help to rein in dissenters and abusers?

    No.

    McCarrick is a sop so that the MSM and Vati-spin can paint Francis as a pope who is getting to grips with this. They will carry on neglecting all the abusers he has facilitated and promoted personally, and they will continue to ignore his personal relationship with Gustavo Verra and what that potentially says about his personal morality.

    The power of the Sodomites has only grown stronger with the appointment of Farrell as camerlengo, and that other protege of McCarrick – Cupich – who is in charge of this meeting of bishops will ensure it stays well clear of naming homosexuality as the major problem in the clergy that needs to be cleared up.

    The liberal stranglehold on the Church will only get worse as long as the “spirit of Vatican II” is not exorcised from the Body of Christ. Consequently the dissenters and abusers will continue to have their field day and possibly really come into their own under the next pontificate. The appointment of a camerlengo might indicate that plans are afoot for the enthronement of Francis II already.

    • Deacon Augustine,

      In a 4+ paragraph nutshell! Well said!

      The next conclave WILL require the Holy Spirit’s attendance, big time, to get one over on this lot.

    • Deacon Augustine,

      “The power of the Sodomites has only grown stronger with the appointment of Farrell as camerlengo, and that other protege of McCarrick – Cupich – who is in charge of this meeting of bishops will ensure it stays well clear of naming homosexuality as the major problem in the clergy that needs to be cleared up.

      How right were you! This from Catholic World Report:

      Vatican City, Feb 18, 2019 / 10:15 am (CNA).- Cardinal Blase Cupich said Monday that this week’s Vatican sex abuse summit needs to be focused on the protection of minors, underscoring that homosexuality is not a cause of sexual abuse.
      While it is important to recognize the fact that a high percentage of sex abuse involves “male on male sex abuse,” Cupich said, “homosexuality itself is not a cause.” It is a matter of “opportunity and also a matter of poor training on the part of people.”

      https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/02/18/ahead-of-summit-cupich-discusses-sex-abuse-homosexuality-priestly-formation/

      W O W !

      Is this a rather UN-subtle way of saying there’s actually nothing wrong with homosexuality, and these male on male sex abuse case are as a result of a homosexual priest taking an “opportunity” because, somehow, Catholic teaching on purity and chastity passed them by… not to mention the Church’s ruling on homosexual candidates for the priesthood, which should have kept them out of the seminary in the first place.

  8. These offenders usually live very cushy lives after their downfall, paid for by the respective dioceses.

    • WF,

      I was just wondering about that, remembering a letter I had some years ago now from an elderly priest, now deceased (you probably knew him, Fr Anthony…) who told me that when he told his bishop he couldn’t say the new Mass and sought permission to keep saying the old, he was forced to resign from the parish and had to struggle to find accommodation. The bishop told him that if he were leaving to get married, they’d have given him more help.

      Such are the incredible, beyond belief, times in which we live.

      • Yes I know of more than one priest who was abandoned and reduced to penury for their refusal to offer the Novus Ordo, and who relied on the charity of lay people to get by. And yet, as you say, priest abusers, perverts, adulterers etc, usually get accommodated in nice properties with support from the dioceses – in other words – money coming from the laity (well not from me because I haven’t given a penny to my diocese in about 30 years).

      • Editor,
        I also witnessed priests totally abandoned by their hierarchy and reduced to misery for stubbornly maintaining the Mass in the traditional rite.

  9. I have never heard of this priest before – and a Jesuit to boot! When you think of how the Jesuits have fallen. Possible the worst of all the orders in the world today. But Fr Willie Doyle’s mission echoes very much what Our Lady said to Sister Lucia of Fatima, as repeated by her to Fr Fuentes in 1957:

    “Sister Lucy also told me: “Father, the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that offends God the most, and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way the devil will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them.”

    “That which afflicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus is the fall of religious and priestly souls. The devil knows that religious and priests who fall away from their beautiful vocation drag numerous souls to hell. The devil wishes to take possession of consecrated souls. He tries to corrupt them in order to lull to sleep the souls of laypeople and thereby lead them to final impenitence. He employs all tricks, even going so far as to suggest the delay of entrance into religious life. Resulting from this is the sterility of the interior life, and among the laypeople, coldness (lack of enthusiasm) regarding the subject of renouncing pleasures and the total dedication of themselves to God.” http://archive.fatima.org/essentials/opposed/frfuentes.asp

  10. I read on the Lifesite website that when a priest / prelate is laicized that means that no material help is given to him. It was different in the case of Cardinal O’Brien for instance, he was provided for but he hadn’t been laicized.

    • Crofterlady,

      I doubt very much if Mr McCarrick will be housed by the Salvation Army or joining the queue at the nearest food-bank. At a wild guess, I’d say his friends in higher places will find a way to “help” him…

      Signed: Cynical, Glasgow…

      • Dear Cynical, Glasgow,

        Since Mr. McCarrick was typically the courier for large amounts of cash during his sleazy career, I have a feeling that he has squirreled away at least some of it. In fact, I bet there are quite a few acorns in that hole in his tree-trunk….

    • Crofterlady,

      Well, at least we know now that Cardinal Burke has not entered a strictly enclosed monastery. Seems ages since we heard from him. Great that’s he’s acting prior to the “abuse” meeting in the Vatican, so let’s hope that his letter makes some, at least, difference.

      • I hear that Cardinal Burke is coming back to Glasgow, to the Immaculate Heart parish again. I wonder why he is not invited to speak at St Aloysius, like all the dissenters are, why a wee parish in the north of the city instead of bang in town?

    • Sr Emmanuella Mua HHCJ

      God can only have mercy on us if we are repentant. So far, McCarrick has not shown any repentance, as far as I know he’s only apologised and he actually fought against being defrocked. That’s not a good look.

      • Laura,

        Hear, hear. We are told this all the time, you must forgive, but how can you forgive someone who doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong? As you say, even God can only have mercy on us if we are repentant.

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