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Last August, Cdl. Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey wrote a letter to his priests disclaiming any knowledge of a homosexual priestly culture within his archdiocese. Responding to an article in the wake of the McCarrick revelations, Tobin declared, "No one — including the anonymous 'sources' cited in the article — has ever spoken to me about a 'gay sub-culture' in the Archdiocese of Newark."
It was a preposterous lie. In fact, a priest who wishes to remain anonymous tells me that he had broached the subject with Tobin several weeks before that letter.
Of course, Tobin knows all about that homosexual network within both Newark and the larger Church for the simple reason that he has helped cultivate it. Tobin was one of many American bishops who dissented from Pope Benedict XVI's decree that the Church stop ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood. He has been promoting all things LGBT in the Church.
He opened up his cathedral to a pro-LGBT pilgrimage and permits his parishes to hold LGBT "pride" masses. Father James Martin, the leading pro-LGBT propagandist in the Church, has pointed to Tobin as the gold standard among pro-LGBT bishops under Pope Francis: "[Pope Francis] has also appointed gay-friendly bishops and archbishops and cardinals, like Cardinal Tobin, the archbishop of Newark who, for example, held a 'Welcome Mass' for LGBT people in his Cathedral."
Father Martin, by the way, plays the same game as Tobin, encouraging an out-and-proud gay priesthood at one moment, then scoffing at its existence in the next. Asked last year during a television interview about McCarrick's predatory gay beach house parties, Martin said innocently:
I think that Cardinal McCarrick's case is really extraordinary. The idea that he would have a house on the Jersey Shore and … bring people there. I think that's very unusual. I think, as in any organization, there are abuses of power and even improper sexual advances. But I don't think that this is rampant, and I think his case is really kind of an outlier.
How do such statements square with Cdl. Wuerl's recent admission that he knew for at least 14 years about McCarrick's misconduct with priests and never felt the need to "advert" to it again? Did he treat that behavior as an outlier? Not in the slightest. He treated it as something so commonplace that he could shrug it off and never revisit it again.
The subtext of his recent letters to his priests is that he didn't have to come clean about his knowledge of McCarrick's misconduct since it didn't involve "minors." Only in a Church where homosexual priestly misconduct has become normalized could Wuerl's line of reasoning be presented as a defense.
Were such behavior truly rare, Wuerl would have followed up on the grave accusation he had heard about McCarrick and would have taken steps to protect his priests and seminarians from him. Instead, he treated it like no big deal, which makes one wonder how many other McCarricks are lurking in the USCCB's shadows.
Now, Wuerl is even claiming that he "forgot" about the allegation, which simply punctuates the lack of moral seriousness on display in his previous comments. No matter how he spins his original lie about McCarrick, Wuerl has cemented an image of the hierarchy as hopelessly lax, a corrupt club where gay misconduct is habitually overlooked.
The bishops who deny the existence of a homosexual network in the Church the most emphatically are the ones who have done the most to create one. Under more favorable circumstances, they would probably take credit for it as a great progressive advance in the Church. But as the abuse scandal has rendered that increasingly difficult, they have resorted to feigning ignorance.
San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy has written straight-facedly that "I have not witnessed the presence of such a [homosexual] subculture in my three years as bishop of San Diego." Never mind that he has been building such a culture in San Diego by turning his parishes over to LGBT activists. Never mind that he came out of an ecclesiastical milieu in San Francisco that was notorious for promoting homosexuality in the Church.
McElroy was one of the top advisers to San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn, whose subversion of the Church's teaching on homosexuality was legendary. For years, one of McElroy's colleagues, Fr. Gerald Coleman, led the seminary for the San Francisco archdiocese, even though he was on record support gay domestic partnerships.
Most of the prelates denying the existence of a gay priestly culture were on the ground floor of its creation and provided loud theoretical defenses for it. Before the recent eruptions of the abuse scandal, they had insisted that the ordination of homosexuals to the priesthood was not only defensible but desirable — that homosexual priests brought special "gifts" to the priesthood and so on.
In 2017, McElroy celebrated the 20th anniversary of the infamous USCCB document "Always Our Children," which was a product of gay priestly propagandists within the Church who sought to normalize homosexuality in Catholic families and seminaries. The document conspicuously avoided any mention of the crisis of homosexuality within the priesthood and counseled parents to adopt accepting views of homosexuality. To this day, Cardinal Wuerl's cathedral hosts a group named after that document.
The sudden amnesia of the McElroys and Wuerls about the very culture they proposed and promoted is the most insulting lie of all.