Eternal Retribution

News: Commentary
by Fr. Paul John Kalchik  •  •  June 30, 2022   

Justice escapes McCarrick's victims

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Four years have passed, yet the numerous victims of former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick's numerous victims have seen little, if any, justice.

Former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick

In the aftermath of The New York Times' watershed article on the McCarrick scandal, published June 20, 2018, Rome summarily wrote off all ties to the now-disgraced McCarrick. And four years have painfully progressed, with the Holy See offering mere lip service to McCarrick's victims.

In February 2019, the Vatican issued a statement laicizing McCarrick. In the decree, the pederast was cited for two crimes to justify his demotion from the clerical state: (1) soliciting sex while hearing a confession and (2) the commission of sins with minors and adults. McCarrick's sundry victims from his many decades of predation, in the aftermath of this ruling of the Holy See, were left scratching their heads. Is this all? No time to be served behind bars? No finishing off his last days in a locked monastery cell somewhere? No house arrest? No monetary damages to be paid?

For McCarrick's victims, Rome's feather-light punishment was a disgrace. To exacerbate an already bad situation, the Vatican's McCarrick report, issued after an interminable waiting period in the fall of 2020, laid the blame for McCarrick's predation not on McCarrick himself, but upon those dead or otherwise unable to defend themselves (like St. John Paul II and Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò).

Four years later, McCarrick's victims are still scratching their heads. Rome essentially gave McCarrick a cushy retirement by reducing him to the lay state. But where is there justice in this? No punishment whatsoever other than the relinquishment of his red hat and priestly responsibilities is ludicrous!

He is a dirty old man.

Adding salt to victims' open wounds, civil litigation is stubbornly lingering. After four years, many question whether McCarrick will ever take a seat in a courtroom to answer his accusers. By the time McCarrick sits before a judge, will he, if he's still alive, even have his faculties? A suitable punishment for McCarrick, either by the Church or the State, has not been forthcoming, and many victims have succumbed to despair. Justice has not been served.

Victims' despair over the lack of justice for McCarrick's crimes brings to mind a line from Agatha Christie's book Murder on the Orient Express: "When you've been denied justice ... you are incomplete. It feels that God has abandoned you in a stark place."

The Vortex: McCarrick Bombshell

For those familiar with the novel, 12 victims do get their revenge. The paradox at the end of this story is that although the murderer is dead and the murder avenged, peace escapes the vigilantes.

Agatha Christie's characters are all fictional, but all too real, as we all empathize with their pain over having been denied justice. Many of us have suffered atrocities that cry to Heaven for justice, while none is forthcoming. As disciples of Christ, it's so important to remember St. Paul's admonition in Romans 12:19: "Beloved, do not look for revenge, but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord.'"

In the immediate aftermath of suffering some horror, the natural human response is to strike back, to get even, to take the matter into one's own hands and to get justice. In movies and novels, the outcome of such vigilantism is justice being restored. But in this fallen world, reality seldom mirrors fiction. Most murders in Chicago go unsolved, as compared to those found in Agatha Christie novels, in which all murderers are brought to justice.

In his admonition to the Romans, St. Paul reminds the faithful that in God alone is true justice found. Paul encourages his flock to put aside the human inclination to seek revenge for the wrongs they have suffered and to leave vengeance to God.

Duffy Kane, Church Militant's Resistance captain in Baltimore, himself a sexual abuse victim, in a recent email, summed up how only in God will true justice be obtained for sexual predation:

No true justice can be had in this world that will ever make up for the loss suffered by the abuse. Justice is best realized by working to make sure that we fight the system that allowed it to happen, that we labor to make sure it does not happen to someone else and thereby work toward an eternity of justice in Heaven.

Wise words from a wise man.

It's easy after suffering a severe injury or some egregious injustice to get caught up in seeking revenge, as compared to practicing the Faith and offering forgiveness to our persecutors, as Christ demanded.

Our Merciful Lord directed in Matthew 5:44: "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."

Over the last couple of years, in conversations with many abuse victims, this mandate from Our Lord is our number one topic of conversation. Some abuse victims, because of the immediacy of their abuse, are nowhere near close to forgiving their abusers. Others, after decades of struggle and effort, have forgiven their abusers in a saintly fashion. I am still working on it. However, God has given me the grace in recent years to make great strides in this ongoing effort.

Bishops: Enough Is Enough — Breaking the Silence

In my own situation, one thing that has facilitated my forgiveness of my abusers is that they are dead. As these two men can't hurt anyone ever again, I get great satisfaction in knowing they are now totally under God's thumb.

For many victims of sexual predation, their abusers remain living and go unpunished. What irks them the most is that many of their perpetrators go about their lives unencumbered. Many of these victims, however, have had their lives greatly damaged owing to the abuse they've suffered. And yet the men who maltreated them blithely go about their day-to-day lives, without a thought in the world, other than for themselves.

I, for one, would like to see McCarrick sporting an ankle bracelet, and I'm not even one of his victims! I think that most people would find it a comfort to know that someone was monitoring McCarrick's whereabouts, to know, for instance, that he wasn't taking up a residence next to some boys' prep school.

Despite all the talk about protecting God's children and so forth, the Church and civil authorities remain deaf and dumb to the threat McCarrick still poses. Other men in their 90s are locked up for far lesser crimes. And don't give me the business about him being an old man. Yes, he is a dirty old man, who the youth need to be protected from.

I pray daily that all those men McCarrick abused will find peace in God.

One of my prayers is that Rome, at this ninth hour, does not permit McCarrick to ditch town and take up residence in the Vatican, following Cdl. Law's demonic example. Today, I have little faith that any of McCarrick's victims will get any justice in this fallen world. The vested interests do not want to punish this evil man.

I pray daily that all those men McCarrick abused will find peace in God, knowing that very soon, God will judge him. May he repent before it is too late. 

My prayer is especially for McCarrick's victims that all of them can move forward in their lives and find healing. I know many struggle with the aftereffects of abuse — alcoholism, failed marriages and so forth! May God give them all the grace to move beyond these additional challenges. I don't offer these thoughts lightly, but as a man who, in the aftermath of abuse, struggled in these same areas. God will give you grace if you but ask.

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