SAN FRANCISCO (ChurchMilitant.com) - San Francisco's archbishop is honoring a cardinal who covered up sex abuse, and the victim is calling out his betrayal and complicity.
On Oct. 27, the archdiocese, headed by Abp. Salvatore Cordileone, has scheduled "An Evening to Congratulate Cardinal Robert McElroy," the San Diego prelate who recently received the red hat.
The description reads: "Join Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone for an evening celebration congratulating Cardinal Robert McElroy on his elevation." Sung Vespers begin at 5:30 p.m., with a "light reception" to follow.
Rachel Maria Mastrogiacomo, who was ritually groomed and abused by a San Diego priest — whom Cdl. McElroy reinstated less than a year after he confessed to his abuse — is likening Abp. Cordileone's actions to "a stab wound to the heart" and "salt" in her wounds.
"[T]he betrayal by my friends hurt more than the abuse by my enemy, and Archbishop Cordileone's complicity feels like salt in that very wound," she wrote in an Oct. 18 Facebook post.
As Church Militant detailed in our Special Report: The Devil in Rome, Mastrogiacomo was targeted by Bertrand in Rome, where both were studying at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Bertrand took advantage of her naïveté and charismatic background. Over the course of many months as her spiritual director, he groomed her using spiritual imagery and quoting the saints, convincing her that they were destined to be "mystically espoused."
Months after his priestly ordination in 2010, visiting her family home in Minnesota, Bertrand offered a private Mass in her basement, where he took sexual advantage of Mastrogiacomo.
During the ritual, he desecrated the Holy Eucharist in a way too disturbing and graphic to describe.
He afterwards warned her to stay silent, paying her $1,000 in hush money and claiming it was meant to go towards her studies.
After the San Diego diocese learned of Bertrand's sexual misconduct in 2014, Bertrand confessed to the ritual abuse, leading to his suspension from ministry.
When McElroy was installed as bishop of San Diego in 2015, he almost immediately reinstated Bertrand to priestly ministry, assigning him to a new parish, where multiple sources confirm with Church Militant Bertrand continued his predatory grooming of young women.
It was only in 2016, once criminal charges for rape were brought against Bertrand, that McElroy suspended Bertrand. He pled guilty to rape in 2018, leading to his laicization.
To this day, McElroy has refused to acknowledge his actions in reinstating a known predator to ministry in 2015.
In fact, his spokesman, Kevin Eckery, distanced himself from McElroy's actions.
"Jacob Bertrand was removed from ministry by the diocese and later laicized," he wrote in an Aug. 15, 2022 email. "We played no role and did not assist in his criminal defense. Beyond that, there is little more I can say."
Detailing a timeline of betrayal by those she trusted, Mastrogiacomo wrote, "First, of course, I was groomed and ritually raped by a Satanic priest. Second, Bishop McElroy protected him and covered up the dark crimes he committed against me."
After reporting her crimes, some of her own friends refused to support her, while Bertrand himself was able to escape jail time.
"And alas, seeing Francis put that red hat on top of McElroy's head on that dreadful Saturday in August felt like a global display of my nothingness," she continued, "a declaration to the whole world that 'Rachel Mastrogiacomo does not matter!' It was like I did not even exist."
"In light of Archbishop Cordileone's celebration of the crook who covered up the crimes committed against me, I came to terms with the brutal guarantee that these things are destined to continue," she added.
McElroy was accused of covering up the crimes of another sexual predator: Theodore McCarrick. In 2016, the late sex abuse expert Richard Sipe hand delivered a letter detailing McCarrick's sexual predation of seminarians. Sipe asked for a follow-up meeting, which McElroy refused.
When Church Militant first called out McElroy in August 2018, followed by other media, the bishop responded to the criticism by claiming he thought the allegations were rumors and failed to take them seriously.
McElroy has gained a reputation for promoting a leftist agenda, downplaying abortion as an issue in the Church and promoting homosexuality and climate change alarmism.
He also protected and promoted Aaron Bianco, an active homosexual in a same-sex marriage who persecuted faithful Catholics at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, where McElroy had made Bianco a pastoral assistant.
McElroy assigned Bertrand to the same parish in 2016.
In the midst of Mastrogiacomo's struggle to forgive Cordileone and other Church leaders, she received a reminder:
Jesus gently reminded me that He forgave as He bled. From the cross, He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And so with His enormous help, and because of a wave of supernatural encouragement from on high, I forgave. I forgave McElroy and Francis and Cordileone all at once. This morning, for the first time in my life, I forgave as I bled. Then I went back to sleep.
In spite of the betrayals and temptations to leave the Church, Mastrogiacomo is choosing to stay within the Church and fight.
"When tempted toward anger or unforgiveness toward these men, the Queen of Heaven reminds me to think only of eternity," she wrote. "If I make it to heaven, it will be because I crawled my way there, beaten and bruised, rejoicing over every wound inflicted upon me by corrupt and complicit clergy."
"This is how I fight my battles," she continued. "[T]his is how I remain a joyful Catholic in communion with Holy Mother Church despite their many attempts to bully me out. I forgive because Christ forgave."
Church Militant contacted Abp. Cordileone to ask him the following questions:
The executive director of communications, Peter Marlow, responded in remarks via email Tuesday night — avoiding the questions.
"Cardinal McElroy was born and raised in San Francisco and was an Auxiliary Bishop in the San Francisco Archdiocese," wrote Marlow. "This event is an opportunity for parishioners to pray with the Cardinal, congratulate him on his new appointment and reunite many parishioners who remember Cardinal McElroy as their parish priest."
Archbishop Cordileone's actions are especially disappointing to faithful Catholics, as he is considered among the few orthodox bishops in the Church. Cordileone gained global attention after denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion Catholic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, even as he received scant support from fellow bishops.
He has also championed the traditional liturgy, ensuring the Traditional Latin Mass will be offered in his diocese after Pope Francis issued a papal decree restricting it worldwide.