Special Report: Devil in Rome premieres Monday, Aug. 22 at 8 PM ET
In the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic McCarrick scandal, one American cardinal's denial of any knowledge of McCarrick's predatory behavior stands out: "Our offices are aware only of the same information regarding these allegations that you are seeing in media reports."
That was Cdl. Donald Wuerl's first response to the mushrooming scandal, made through an intermediary tellingly. No one, of course, is buying it. After all, in order to believe Wuerl's claim that he knew nothing about McCarrick's misbehavior, one would have to swallow the following whoppers:
Wuerl's claim of ignorance only raises questions; it doesn't answer any of them. One obvious point of inquiry for any future panel investigating the McCarrick scandal would be: Was it really possible for the New Jersey archdioceses and its insurance company to evaluate the prudence of settling with McCarrick's victims without holding meetings with D.C. archdiocesan officials? Without examining McCarrick's personnel file in the D.C. archdiocesan office? Without first finding out if that behavior continued during his tenure in D.C.?
After all, how would the insurance company have gauged the need to settle without that crucial information? Presumably, McCarrick was denying it all. Why would the insurance company have settled if the dispute amounted to a he-said, he-said affair, without any later misconduct during his tenure in D.C.?
Any independent panel would need to examine all documents related to the settlement talks. One suspects that those documents would betray evidence of D.C. archdiocesan participation. To take just one example, how did McCarrick, a D.C. archdiocesan employee in his retirement, travel up to New Jersey to discuss the matter? Who paid for that? Who went with him? Surely some D.C. archdiocesan officials accompanied him, unless all of this was resolved over the phone, which is highly doubtful. The panel would need to question McCarrick's aides. What did they know? Did they ever discuss McCarrick-related matters with the D.C. chancery?
Wuerl's denial depends on an utterly ludicrous picture, that of a hermetically sealed scandal leading to hermetically sealed settlements. That never happens in major institutions. It always comes out that a range of people across the affected institution knew about the settlement. That Wuerl didn’t know about the predations of his predecessor is about as likely as Harvey Weinstein's brother and business partner not knowing about the mogul's widely rumored misdeeds.
Then there is the Roman angle: Did nobody at the Vatican tell Wuerl about his predecessor's predations and the settlements to which they led? That strains all credulity. No one has better access to Vatican-held secrets than Wuerl. He is arguably the most powerful cardinal in America and belongs to the Vatican's inner circle.
According to the derelict New Jersey bishops, they informed Vatican officials in Washington, D.C. and Rome about the McCarrick settlements. We are to believe they never passed that information on to Wuerl? Right.
I woke up this last Friday morning to the sad and grimly timed news that Richard Sipe had died. Over the years I talked to Sipe occasionally. I would pepper him with questions about the Gay Mafia in the Catholic Church, a subject he had addressed with great authority in various books and articles. His reporting on the Gay Mafia — much of it deriving from his first-hand experiences as a therapist who worked with troubled priests in the disintegrating, post-1960s Church — was invaluable.
I gather Cdl. Wuerl and other members of the checkered hierarchy breathed a sigh of relief at the news of Sipe's death. Sipe had the goods on them. Or maybe they are muttering to themselves what the French statesman Talleyrand once said after learning of the death of a Turkish ambassador with whom he sparred: "I wonder what he meant by that?"
"Priests have told me that Wuerl is gay," Sipe said to me once during an interview I was conducting for my book, The Political Pope. I had asked Sipe if the Gay Mafia elected Pope Francis. He thought so. We discussed the Msgr. Battista Ricca scandal. Remember that one? It is highly revelant to the McCarrick cover-up and Wuerl's bogus claim that he knew nothing about McCarrick's predatory habits.
Wuerl and Ricca work together on matters related to the Vatican Bank and the administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. If an independent future panel is assembled to look at the McCarrick scandal — which is a big if — it should focus like a laser beam on the interactions of Wuerl, Ricca and McCarrick. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and many of the money men of the Church are charter members of the Gay Mafia who have been covering for each other for decades. Non-members of the Gay Mafia have allowed the Gay Mafia to spread its tentacles throughout the Church in part because they are dependent on the fundraising of these charlatans.
Follow the money in the Church — from the McCarrick-founded Papal Foundation (which recently strong-armed its donors for millions given to a crooked hospital in Rome that the Pope and the Gay Mafia wanted bailed out) to the Patrimony of the Holy See — and you will find on that money the fingerprints of the most double-dealing, double-living prelates in the Church. They understand the purifying and silencing power of raw cash. Their sins are scarlet, but their cash is green — and their cowed colleagues know it.
Of course Wuerl knew about McCarrick, just like he knew about Msgr. Ricca, his colleague at the Vatican bank, in whose affairs Wuerl has long been immersed. Ricca rose to the highest ecclesiastical position at the Vatican Bank despite an amazingly sordid history. Veteran Vatican correspondent Sandro Magister has established beyond any reasonable doubt that Ricca's scandalous bio includes an affair with a member of the Swiss Guard, a beating he received at a gay bar and an incident involving the discovery by firemen of Ricca trapped in an elevator with a young male prostitute.
Wuerl and McCarrick were thrilled when Pope Francis rode to the rescue of Ricca. Recall that Pope Francis' signature line — "Who am I to judge?" — was in response to a question about Ricca. Those words emboldened McCarrick, who enjoyed an astonishing final act under Francis. McCarrick felt so confident that he started bragging about how he had lobbied for Bergoglio's election after a powerful "Roman" had pressed him to spread the word to his peers about the Argentine prelate. Who was that powerful Roman? That's another question for the yet-to-be-formed panel. In all likelihood, he is one of the Gay Mafia's chief puppeteers.
Richard Sipe, alas, didn't oppose a gay clergy, just a secretive one. But his warnings about McCarrick will remain a monument to his honest testimony. I had wanted to talk to Sipe about the McCarrick-Wuerl cover-up over the last month, but couldn't reach him. I never found Sipe's proposed left-wing reforms persuasive in the slightest — in fact, they would just make the scandal permanent by gaying the Church formally — but I always respected his reporting on the existence of the Gay Mafia and admired his fearlessness. May he rest in peace.