A year ago, revelations arose of a credible allegation of abuse by Theodore McCarrick, which led to a cascade of other accusers stepping forward to discuss their own abuse at the hands of one of the most powerful cardinals in America. Cardinals and bishops were quick to deny all knowledge of his misconduct — until evidence surfaced contradicting their claims.
To date, Cardinals Donald Wuerl, Kevin Farrell and Bp. Robert McElroy have been among those whose protestations of ignorance have been contradicted by the evidence — leading to Wuerl's resignation and petitions from angry Catholics launched against Farrell and McElroy.
At least twice, Wuerl — who resigned in disgrace from his see in the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. in October after months of sustained criticism — was caught lying about his knowledge of Theodore McCarrick.
The cache of letters published by Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, personal secretary to McCarrick, show that Wuerl was not only aware of penalties imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict, but actively worked to implement those restrictions by moving McCarrick out of a seminary into a parish, per the pontiff's orders.
This contradicts Wuerl's public statements from last year, in which spokesman Ed McFadden told Catholic News Agency, "Cardinal Wuerl did not receive documentation or information from the Holy See specific to Cardinal McCarrick's behavior or any of the prohibitions on his life and ministry suggested by Archbishop Vigano."
In the face of objective proof, Wuerl has doubled down.
"Cardinal Wuerl has previously stated — and he reiterates again — that he was not aware of any imposition of sanctions or restrictions related to any claim of abuse or inappropriate activity by Theodore McCarrick," said an unnamed archdiocesan spokesman on May 28.
Wuerl was caught in another lie when he told reporters he'd had no knowledge of McCarrick's sexual misconduct with other priests.
The Washington Post reported Jan. 10 that Wuerl, as bishop of Pittsburgh, was made aware of a claim of sexual misconduct against McCarrick in 2004, and passed along the information to then-Vatican ambassador Gabriel Montalvo. Both the Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. dioceses confirmed this.
After news broke June 20, 2018 that McCarrick had been suspended following credible allegations of abuse, Wuerl issued a statement saying he was "shocked" by the allegations.
In a Jan. 12 letter to clergy, Wuerl walked back his previous statements, claiming that he meant to say he knew nothing of McCarrick's abuse of minors, not adults.
"While one may interpret my statement in a different context," Wuerl wrote, "the discussion around and adjudication of Archbishop McCarrick's behavior concern his abuse of minors."
But this contradicts a claim he made to CBS News reporter Nicki Battiste, where she asked him directly whether Wuerl had heard rumors of McCarrick's misconduct with adult priests (not minors).
"No, no," Wuerl answered at the time.
"I never knew anything back then," he told the Irish Times in 2016. "I worked in Monterrey, and maybe I would have met Maciel once or twice, but I never suspected anything. ... I left the Legionaries because I had intellectual differences with them."
But one longtime friend and former Legionary claims otherwise.
"Kevin did know Fr. Maciel on a personal basis," said J. Paul Lennon to Church Militant.
Lennon was among the first group of Irish-born members of the Legion and close friend to Farrell's brother Brian (a former Legionary who now works as secretary for the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity). He claims Farrell was far closer to Maciel than he lets on.
"When Kevin was working in Connecticut as a Legionary priest, before he left the community circa 1984, Kevin did spend time with Fr. Maciel when he would visit that 'front,'" Lennon said. "I have been told that on at least one occasion Kevin and other Legionaries participated in a pillow fight to entertain Fr. Maciel (the sex pervert)."
Lennon vouches for his claims based on "first-hand" knowledge.
"I joined the Legion of Christ ... on July 1, 1961 together with Brian Farrell and about 20 other enthusiastic late teens," he explained to Church Militant. "Brian and I and six others became the first Irish-born members to begin their Legion novitiate in Salamanca, Spain in early September 1961, taking the habit on September 15, 1961."
"Kevin studied in Rome at the Legion mother house, Via Aurelia #677, to the best of my knowledge," he continued. "Fr. Maciel came and went as he pleased from that house. Three months there and three month away traveling."
"Kevin because of his 'sense of responsibility,' came to be given certain special tasks by Maciel," Lennon said. "One of these was being the driver of the college bus to and from the Gregorian University on week days. Another job that Kevin was given was to be personal chauffeur to Cdl. Eduardo Pironio, then Secretary Chief of the Sacred Congregation for Religious whenever he was in Rome."
He explains that Fr. Maciel "had collaborators ... people he trusted to 'get the job done.' Kevin was one of them."
Farrell eventually left the Legion, going on to live and work in Washington, D.C.
A former seminarian stationed in Washington confirms with Church Militant that he was tasked once with picking up Fr. Maciel from the airport and driving him to various locations. He recalls dropping off Maciel at a house where then-Fr. Farrell emerged. Maciel spent the night there before his driver picked him up the next day.
In the face of what the public saw as Farrell's deceit, Catholics launched petitions to remove Farrell's name from diocesan buildings in Dallas, Texas, his former diocese.
Thirty years ago, he served as general administrator for the seminaries and schools run by the Legion of Christ. After the scandals broke, he claimed no knowledge of any of the debauchery and, despite his high position, that he only met Father Maciel once or twice. Today, he claims no knowledge of any depraved actions of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, despite sharing an apartment with him for six years.
Church Militant contacted the Legion of Christ, which denies that Farrell ever served as general administrator, in spite of multiple media reports stating otherwise.
Italian media reported last year that Farrell's name is reportedly included in the Vatican's 300-page dossier detailing sexual debauchery and financial corruption in the curia.
"Farrell was appointed auxiliary bishop of Washington precisely because it was McCarrick who wanted him as a deputy," writes Francesca Fagnani. "The two were part of the 'magic circle' of Pope Francis."
"[A case] on the auxiliary bishop of Washington, Kevin Joseph Farrell, is said to have been filed at the Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith in the Vatican, at the Dicastery that is responsible for investigating sexual and other crimes against good morals, which, if not rebutted, would fall squarely on the Pope like a boulder," she continued. "Farrell [was] appointed directly by Bergoglio to head the Dicastery of the Family."
In San Diego, Bp. Robert McElroy claimed he knew nothing about McCarrick — in spite of the fact that the late Richard Sipe had met personally with him and afterwards hand delivered a letter to McElroy in 2016 graphically detailing allegations against McCarrick.
Sipe, a renowned expert in clerical sex abuse, published his private correspondence with McElroy proving that the bishop was made aware of McCarrick's sexual harassment of seminarians.
The 13-page letter, dated July 28, 2016 — which Sipe notes was "hand delivered" on August 30 — began: "It was clear to me during our last meeting in your office, although cordial, that you had no interest in any further personal contact. It was only after that I sent you a letter copied to my contacts in DC and Rome."
Several pages later, Sipe continues:
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been reported by numerous seminarians and priests of sexual advances and activity. A settlement with one priest was effected by Stephen Rubino, Esq.
In that record the operation of McCarrick in sexual activity with three priests is described. Correspondence from "Uncle Ted," as he asked to be called, is included. One of the principals is now a lawyer who left the priesthood, two men remain in the priesthood, but refuse to speak publicly despite the fact that the settlement document is open. One priest was told by the chancery office, "if you speak with the press we will crush you."
Priests or seminarians who speak up about a sexually active superior are threatened with the loss of everything — employment, status, etc. Those who report are greeted with disbelief or even derision if they know but were not personally involved. If they were a partner in the sexual activity and "come out" they become a pariah and labeled a traitor.
I have interviewed twelve seminarians and priests who attest to propositions, harassment, or sex with McCarrick, who has stated, "I do not like to sleep alone."
One priest incardinated in McCarrick's Archdiocese of Newark was taken to bed for sex and was told, "this is how priests do it in the U.S." None so far has found the ability to speak openly at the risk of reputation and retaliation.
The system protects its impenetrability with intimidation, secrecy and threat. Clergy and laity are complicit.
In spite of these detailed allegations about McCarrick's homosexual predation, McElroy said and did nothing, offering no response to Sipe.
After Church Militant's report, McElroy published a statement admitting he had met personally with Sipe on two occasions and did receive his letter, but failed to follow up because of Sipe's alleged lack of "willingness to share corroborating information" about his claims, which "made it impossible to know what was real and what was rumor."
In the face of McElroy's inaction, Sipe — who had been warning the Church about McCarrick for years — was vindicated.
McElroy has also falsely claimed "there is no gay subculture in my diocese" — in spite of unassailable evidence that he himself has fostered such a gay subculture.
At a listening session last year, McElroy castigated a woman for asking why the bishop would allow an open homosexual, Aaron Bianco, to "run the show" at St. John the Evangelist Parish.
[T]he Bishop cut her off, saying, "Alright, you've gone far enough now. You're not going to stand here and disparage an employee of the diocese. You can leave if you're going to do that. The other things you can say — you cannot attack an employee of the diocese … I owe it to the employees of the Archdiocese [sic] not to let those calumnies be said."
The guards at the event rushed the woman and tried to haul her out of the room after her question.
Bianco, who is in a same-sex "marriage," had fallen out of favor under the previous bishop, but was revived and placed back in ministry once McElroy took office, serving as pastoral associate at St. John the Evangelist, where he ran the Young Adults and Pastoral Outreach ministry.
An inside source at the parish said at the time, "St. John the Evangelist was deemed the main test church in the U.S. to focus on the LGBT community."
Bianco persecuted faithful Catholics, locking out the Rosary group from the parish and forcing them to pray in the parking lot, while leaving literature in the Church promoting the local abortion mill as well as condemned LGBT group New Ways Ministry.
Bianco resigned as pastoral associate in October after claiming that his office had been vandalized with anti-gay slurs, although to date no suspects have been found. His supporter, Fr. James Martin, accused Church Militant of targeting Bianco in these attacks — a claim Church Militant rejected as categorically false, sending a cease and desist letter to Martin threatening to sue him for his defamatory remarks.
In 2017, McElroy took part in an LGBT Mass celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Always Our Children," a document issued by the U.S. bishops criticized for softening Church teaching on homosexuality.
After Holy Communion, a transvestite took to the lectern to praise McElroy for having "spoken out for equality and civil rights," going on to gush that his "prayers were answered" after having lived in San Diego for 50 years.
Those in attendance noted that there were no calls for chastity or repentance for the many members of the LGBT community in the pews.
"I have not witnessed the presence of such a [homosexual] subculture in my three years as bishop of San Diego," McElroy wrote in his January 2019 column, in spite of the bishop's open promotion of LGBT ideology in his diocese.
A year into the Vatican's investigation into McCarrick, answers remain obscure, the Holy See refusing to release any documents related to his file. Some have argued that the quick canonical process leading to McCarrick's laicization — without a trial — is part of the attempt to cover up, not expose, the network of complicit clergy who knew about his crimes but stayed silent.
Viganò has lamented what he calls a "corrupt gay mafia" operating with impunity in the Church. Judging by the relatively minor consequences suffered by deceptive bishops, who continue to be welcomed and honored by fellow prelates, the papal nuncio-turned-whistleblower remains a prescient observer of the state of the Church.