Uncle Ted, Who’s Your Daddy?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/08/03/uncle-ted-whos-your-daddy/

Pope Francis likes the big gesture. You can almost imagine him waving his meaty arm in a wide sweep while tossing off some breathtaking statement to a surprised aide.

Here’s one:  Invite all bishops in the United States to tell the pope in person what they knew about Theodore McCarrick, and when they knew it.

Since news broke of former Cardinal McCarrick’s misdeeds against seminarians and other young males, the most striking aspect of the reaction isn’t the shock, but the lack of it. It’s become a new standard of in-the-know:  If you didn’t know that Uncle Ted was on intimate terms with his “nephews,” well, you just didn’t know much about the Roman Catholic Church in America.

So who else knew, besides reporters, church support staff, and perhaps the lunch lady at the local parochial school?

You think the three bishops of New Jersey (Metuchen, Trenton, Newark) knew when they approved settlements in 2005 and 2007 of claims brought by former seminarians?

Rectories and chanceries are among the most gossipy places in the world. Think other bishops knew?

Think any of his brother cardinals knew?

This is the same man who has been a bishop since 1977, an archbishop since 1986, and a cardinal since 2001. (Until last week.)

Think he had more opportunities than we’ve heard about? Think any of his opportunities ever talked?

Some whistleblowers are coming forward to say they wrote and called people in positions of authority in the Vatican and elsewhere to tell them. And … they’re still waiting to hear back.

This is frustrating, naturally. What to do?

Ask the people who opened the letters and took the calls. Ask the people who run the chanceries.

Some people will claim such a mass-interrogation would amount to a witch hunt. But the chief valid objection to a witch hunt concerns looking without evidence for witches who may not exist. In the case of Uncle Ted, we know we have a witch. And we know where the witch has been. And we know there are a lot of people who knew or should have known where the broomsticks are buried.

What did they know, and when did they know it?

So how to ask?

Invite each bishop to an all-expenses-paid visit to the Vatican. Ad limina visits these days are taking several hours for the pope. This visit should take about six minutes.

Do you know who Theodore McCarrick is?

Ever met him?

Ever heard reports that he preyed upon seminarians?

Or anyone else?

If yes to either of the previous two questions:

Did you believe the reports?

What did you do about it?

If any of the answers aren’t forthcoming …

Your Excellency/Eminence, you have one month to wrap up affairs in your diocese and email us a PDF of your resignation letter.

If any of the answers are known to be false …

Your Excellency/Eminence, your resignation will be accepted before you leave St. Peter’s Square.

If any of the answers suggest a cover-up …

Your former Excellency/Eminence, you are invited to a life of prayer and penance.

Now some will suggest a practical problem with this approach:  We could lose a lot of bishops.

And …?

Right and left, up and down, good and bad, there is widespread dissatisfaction with Catholic bishops in the United States. What better way to start anew then to create some vacancies, and using a vital standard – protecting young people — to do it?

As we all know, we have had a priest shortage for 40 years or more. But we’ve never had a bishop shortage. We haven’t seen any diocese closings or mergers or “collaboratives.” Every time a bishop leaves a diocese – mirabile dictu – another one comes to fill his place.

Maybe the new bishops would have character and judgment and common sense.

Or maybe they’d just ask themselves every day:

If I were asked about such-and-such by the pope, what would I say?


Matt McDonald is Editor-in-Chief of New Boston Post.