VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A high-ranking Vatican cardinal who spent years as Cdl. Theodore McCarrick's housemate is claiming he's "shocked" by allegations of McCarrick's predatory behavior. But others are contradicting his testimony.
In a July 24 interview with Catholic News Service (run by the U.S. bishops), Cdl. Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican Dicastery on Laity, Family and Life, said of the charges against the bishop who ordained him, "I was shocked, overwhelmed; I never heard any of this before, the six years I was there with him."
"And never, no indication, none whatsoever, nobody ever talked to me about that," he insisted. "So, I really don't have any knowledge or anything to add to about more than that."
Asked about Farrell's denials, one victim of McCarrick's abuse says he's lying.
"They lie," said a man who goes by the name James, baptized by McCarrick, who reportedly abused him from the age of 11. "They lie through their teeth and hoping that everything will go away, because the great Oz behind the curtain, Cardinal McCarrick, is going to fix things again."
Farrell had issued similar denials when asked about the predatory behavior of Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, of which Farrell was a member. Maciel was later exposed as a serial sex abuser who fathered children with multiple women and even raped his own sons.
"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 is contradicting his words. J. Paul Lennon, among the first group of Irish-born members of the Legion and close friend of Farrell's brother Brian (a former Legionary who now works as secretary for the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity), claims Farrell was far closer to Maciel than he lets on.
"Kevin did know Fr. Maciel on a personal basis," Lennon told Church Militant. "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.'"
"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)," he added.
"Fr. Maciel had his closed inner circle of victims and this was unknown to the vast majority of Legionaries, of which I was one," he continued. "However, Kevin was in a closer relationship and had much more access to Fr. Maciel than the regular men in the trenches. He might have suspected."
In a note on his website ReGAIN, devoted to helping former Legionaries damaged by the organization, Lennon wrote, "Monsignor Kevin had been a close associate of Fr. Maciel for years and one of the drivers assigned to accompany church dignitaries being cultivated by the Legion, including Cdl. Eduardo Pironio, Prefect for the congregation for religious."
"He left because of Maciel's mistreatment and made a successful transition to the diocese of Washington, D.C., where he pursued his ecclesiastical career," Lennon wrote.
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 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 Keven 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."
"Kevin was privy to some information that he would know because of his closeness to Maciel: He might know if one of the members was having a problem and what Maciel was deciding to do with the problematic Legionary seminarian or priest," he said.
After Lennon left the Legion in 1984, he moved to Washington, D.C.
"When I got to Washington February 11, Kevin, who had left the Legion months or a year earlier, met me at National Airport," Lennon said. "Kevin shared that his last assignment was in Monterrey, Mexico, where he was spiritual director to a group of prominent businessmen who were members or being groomed to belong to the Legion's lay organization, Regnum Christi."
Catholics are now questioning Farrell's honesty.
"Rome's Cardinal Kevin Farrell was a senior administrator in sex-mad Fr. Marcial Maciel's Legion of Christ, then a protegé of Cdl McCarrick, of whose perversions he now says he knew nothing. He has a surprising gift for bumbling into the company of powerful lechers," tweeted author Rod Dreher.
Church Militant contacted Farrell requesting comment on the discrepancy in his remarks, but received no response as of press time.
On June 20, the New York archdiocese issued a statement detailing allegations made against former Washington, D.C. archbishop McCarrick, which involved claims of abuse of a minor more than 45 years ago, when McCarrick was a priest in New York.
Since then, the diocese of Newark, New Jersey has confirmed at least two legal settlements with adult male victims of McCarrick when he was bishop in New Jersey, with further reports revealing that McCarrick was notorious for inviting seminarians to his beach house and using the opportunity to sexually assault the young men.
The revelations have led to a groundswell of support among laity demanding accountability from bishops for too often fostering a culture of cover-up, where vulnerable priests and seminarians who are victims of predatory behavior by the likes of McCarrick and others in power have little recourse.
Beverly Stevens, editor-in-chief of Regina Magazine, published a scathing critique in response to the McCarrick revelations, vowing to cut off funding until bishops clean up their act.
"Your seminary teachers prey on them, using every grooming and abusive tactic in the book," she wrote. "If they acquiesce, they are prey for blackmail their entire careers. If they refuse, they are openly humiliated and mocked, until they leave, their faith all but shattered, their psyches all but destroyed."
"We, the Catholics, demand the end of the Lavender Mafia," she continued. "We demand that homosexual predators be immediately dismissed from our seminaries. We insist that bad bishops be removed from their sees. We demand that homosexual-promoting clerics be relieved of their positions."
*9/6/2018: This article was corrected to reflect a clarification sent by Lennon, who said the witness of the pillow fight recalled the men were not in pajamas but fully clothed.