McCarrick Legacy and Abuse Continues

News: Commentary
by Gene Thomas Gomulka  •  •  November 16, 2020   

Protégés promoted, whistleblowers punished

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The results of the much-awaited McCarrick Report came as no surprise. The results were similar to what former President Bill Clinton's lawyers might have prepared had they been tasked with investigating allegations that their boss was having an affair with a White House intern.

Julio César Grassi, Battista Ricca and Gustavo Zanchetta

From the very beginning, people were naïve to believe that Vatican investigators who report to Pope Francis would find him guilty of covering up for McCarrick. One only has to look at how Francis has handled sexual abuse and homosexual behavior allegations on the part of clerics like Julio César Grassi, Battista Ricca, and Gustavo Zanchetta to realize that McCarrick was only one of many predators Francis has protected over the years.

Those who have commented on the report would be wise to compare its findings with the 154-page abuse report released the same day in the United Kingdom by the IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse). Titled "The Roman Catholic Church – Investigation Report — November 2020," the analysis led Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse attorney at Slater and Gordon to say, "The report is utterly excoriating about the Holy See and calls out the blatant hypocrisy of Pope Francis ... The pope's credibility on this issue is now in tatters — he simply cannot be trusted."

It should also not come as a surprise that the principal whistleblower, Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, would be defamed particularly when he called for Pope Francis and a number of those involved in McCarrick's cover-up to step down.

Viganò himself was never contacted and asked to provide information for the report.

Though Viganò asked his superiors in 2006 and 2008 "to intervene as soon as possible by removing the cardinal's hat and reducing McCarrick to the lay state," and despite his allegation that he warned Pope Francis about McCarrick on June 23, 2013, the McCarrick Report accuses the archbishop of failing to take "steps" to determine whether the allegations against McCarrick were credible. The report's validity is immediately called into question by the fact that, despite being mentioned no fewer than 306 times, Viganò himself was never contacted and asked to provide information for the report.

Whitewashing a Long History of Cover-up

There are a number of reasons to believe that Francis is trying to shift blame from himself to St. John Paul II and to Viganò, whose Aug. 22, 2018 testimony was a catalyst that called attention to McCarrick's serial predation and to the larger network that had been covering it up long before it ever came to the attention of Viganò.

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Years before Viganò himself received allegations of abuse concerning McCarrick, officials in the Vatican, at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C. and in dioceses throughout the United States, were covering up countless cases of clerical sexual predation.

Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò

Ordinarily, the reward for speaking up against abusers and those who covered up the abuse was removal from office. This happened with Dominican priest Fr. Thomas Doyle, who was "shown the door" after he co-authored a 1985 sex abuse report calling for the Vatican and the U.S. bishops to undertake corrective measures to curb the large numbers of abuse cases that were coming across his desk at the Vatican apostolic nunciature.

Unlike Doyle, priests who followed him at the nunciature — like then-Fathers Blase Cupich and Timothy Dolan — were handsomely promoted for covering up the same kinds of abuse cases that greatly disturbed Doyle.

In the aftermath of the release of the McCarrick Report, Vatican News reported that "At the time of his appointment as archbishop of Washington, no victim — adult or minor — had as yet made contact with the Holy See or with the nuncio in the United States to present an accusation regarding any improper behavior attributed to the Archbishop."

Note that the Vatican did not say that no one reported McCarrick, but that "no victim" reported him. If many people question the truthfulness of the McCarrick Report, it's because of statements like this that distort the whole truth. McCarrick was installed as archbishop of Washington on Jan. 3, 2001 — more than a month after Fr. Boniface Ramsey, O.P. mailed a letter dated Nov. 22, 2000 to the apostolic nuncio, Gabriel Montalvo.

Fr. Thomas Doyle: Catholic hierarchy has "zero credibility" for its "consistent mishandling" of sex abuse

Ramsey, a faculty member at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Newark, New Jersey, reported McCarrick for engaging in inappropriate behavior with seminarians. Ramsey would later recount personally speaking on the phone with Montalvo, who encouraged him to send the incriminating letter about McCarrick immediately to him at the nunciature. Ramsey recounts, "I mailed the letter the same day, Nov. 24, and never received an acknowledgement."

Stephen G. Brady, president of Roman Catholic Faithful

Ramsey's letter to the nunciature is not the only letter or report alleging abuse on the part of cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests to be buried by Vatican officials. On Jan. 6, 2005, Stephen G. Brady, the President of Roman Catholic Faithful, sent a letter to the apostolic nuncio, Gabriel Montalvo Higuera, in which he disclosed eyewitness testimony of homosexual activities involving the bishop, priests and seminarians of the diocese of Springfield. Like Ramsey, Brady never received an acknowledgment or a response to his letter.

If one were to believe the conclusions drawn in the McCarrick Report, one would have to believe that Viganò lied about reporting McCarrick to Pope Francis on June 23, 2013; that Cdl. Sean O'Malley never forwarded Fr. Boniface Ramsey's June 17, 2015 letter containing incriminating allegations against McCarrick to the pope, who alone can discipline a bishop; and that San Diego bishop Robert McElroy did not forward the July 28, 2016 legally served letter containing credible evidence against McCarrick (a letter authored by Richard Sipe), whose April 22, 2008 open letter to Pope Benedict moved Benedict to place restrictions on McCarrick.

Concealers Rise, Whistleblowers Fall

While the McCarrick Report published the actions of one predatory prelate, the report is silent on the ranks of priests and bishops who to this day climb the heights of ecclesial careers in the shadow of McCarrick's influence. The unaccounted legions of clerics, who to this day "pass on the tradition" of misconduct or cover-up, are at the core of the crisis from which the Church has yet to recover. One priest abused by McCarrick informed Metuchen bishop Edward T. Hughes that the trauma of his experience with McCarrick "triggered him to touch two 15-year-old boys inappropriately."

Bp. Barry Knestout

While protégés of McCarrick continue to be reported to the Vatican, whistleblowers continue to find themselves defamed while the accused are rarely investigated or disciplined. For example, in the diocese of Richmond, Virginia, priests like Fr. Mark White find themselves suspended from ministry for speaking out against a culture of cover-up promoted by McCarrick's former secretary, Bp. Barry Knestout.

Likewise, at the Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome — the scene of McCarrick's frequent overnight stays — former seminarian Anthony Gorgia was coerced into leaving the seminary and reprised against after he was informed of allegations of inappropriate physical behavior committed by Fr. Adam Park.

After being ordained by McCarrick in 2005 and serving as Cdl. Donald Wuerl's priest-secretary, Park was named NAC vice rector in 2017. After the allegations against Park were covered up by some of the very same Church officials who covered up for McCarrick, Gorgia had no coice but to bring his case forward through the courts to find remedy for the injustices he experienced.

The Legacy Continues

SNAP, a network representing survivors of clerical sex abuse, reacted to the 449-page report by saying that "the crisis is an ongoing one with transparency and accountability still lacking."

Pope Francis not only failed to discipline McCarrick after he knew $180,000 in parishioners' money was spent on two out-of-court settlements, he also continued covering for him after Cdl. Seán O'Malley and Bp. Robert McElroy forwarded him incriminating evidence they received from Fr. Boniface Ramsey and Richard Sipe.

It took over two years for the Vatican to spin a tale exonerating Pope Francis and punishing whistleblowers. The real test is not whether the pope and his underlings failed by covering up the predatory behavior of one disgraced ex-cardinal, but how the Church will continue to face the inevitable crisis of McCarrick's remnants being exposed for perpetuating "Uncle Ted's" legacy.

Gene Thomas Gomulka is a retired Navy Captain/Chaplain who served on active duty at Marine Corps and Navy commands for over 24 years. Father (Monsignor) Gomulka and Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle were reprised against as a result of their support for sexual abuse victims and their confrontations with Church leaders who covered-up and underreported abuse.
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