The next time someone says, “God loves you just as you are,” or the next time you begin to say or think to yourself, “God loves me just as I am,” please call to mind (former Cardinal) Theodore McCarrick. Did God love him “just as he was” when he was abusing and seducing boys and young men? Does God love sexual abuse of any type? Yes, I am writing in response to the McCarrick and Pennsylvania scandals, but I hope to add to what has been written so far and to reinforce important points already made.
Being Catholic About the Crisis
Above all, we should be Catholic about this crisis. Our English word catholic comes from the Greek kat’ holon, which means “according to (kat’) the whole (holon).” The Catholic Church is ontologically the “Whole Church,” the “Complete Church,” which alone has the fullness of the means of salvation and the most complete truth, in spite of the sins of its members. Therefore the dangers and temptations we face are not only falsehood, heresy, and idolatry, but also half-truths and reductionism – that is, mistaking a part for the whole. As Catholics, we need to be wholistic or complete about this crisis, both in breadth and depth.
Many good practical solutions have been suggested; however, the solution to the crisis will not be thorough unless there is conversion. To what? Incomplete answers to that question are “God,” “Christ,” “Gospel values,” “love,” “healing,” “forgiveness,” or anything other than “all—the whole body of—Catholic doctrine.” Let us be clear: only Catholic doctrine provides the best understanding of God, Christ, the Gospel, love, and everything else.
In response to the current scandal, both Raymond Arroyo and Robert George have reminded us of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ response to the 2002 scandal, “Fidelity, fidelity, fidelity.” But to what? Doctrine, doctrine, doctrine! Faith is the acceptance of Revelation. Doctrine is where Revelation and Faith meet. Doctrine clarifies Revelation and defines Faith. In the long history of the Church, there has never been reform, that is, the renewal of faith and zeal among the Church’s members, without a return to doctrine.
If now-Archbishop McCarrick and every other clerical offender had been faithful to Catholic sexual doctrine, none of the abuse in the Church these many decades would have happened. When someone like a Cardinal does not practice what he preaches, there are only two options: either change the practice or change the preaching. The “preaching” at issue here is Catholic sexual doctrine, the core of which is that God has given two purposes to sex: life-long fully committed love and openness to procreation. The corollary to this teaching, of course, is the discipline of celibacy, which these clerics seriously violated.
Catholic doctrine is challenging to everyone. That does not make it wrong. Changing sexual doctrine by “creating” new doctrine that contradicts it in effect turns the Catholic Church into a Protestant denomination. Those bishops, priests, and theologians seeking to contradict doctrine would admit as much if they had any integrity. Those who subvert doctrine by calling its contradiction “development” might well find there is a Fifth Round in the Ninth Circle of the Inferno just for them.
One of the most disturbing things that has been reported about Archbishop McCarrick is how freely, easily, and comfortably he abused and seduced without any qualms about deviating from Catholic sexual doctrine. What does this say about his belief in the other doctrines of the Church? When he said Mass, did he believe in the Nicene Creed and Transubstantiation? How could he? Was he like Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” with Faith instead of science? “All this Faith I don’t understand—it’s just my job five days a week.”
How many cardinals, bishops, priests, and deacons are the religious version of “Rocket Man” going through the motions of their ministry in order to pursue their real agenda? How many of the clergy are “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose which doctrines make sense to them and make them feel good about themselves? How many ordained ministers were educated to assent to all doctrine? How many members of the clergy require the managers, administrators, and teachers under their authority to do the same? When was the last time you heard a homily that called the congregation to fidelity to all doctrine? The last time you even heard the word doctrine used, unless it was in a disparaging way? When has the Catechism as a whole been promoted at your parish or Catholic school, and not just a line or paragraph to rationalize the agenda of someone who otherwise dissents from doctrine?
How many in the pews accept that God has given two purposes to sex? How many, often with good intentions, think, “I can support fornication or same-sex marriage or pornography while being against child abuse, adultery, incestuous marriage, and polyamorous marriage?” How many do not see that once a single exception is made to the two God-given purposes of sex, there is no logical end to the exceptions that can be made? The same subversion of love, procreation, and marriage in the name of “consenting adults” will inevitably subvert the meanings of “consenting” and “adult” as well. Whenever we reject the two God-given purposes of sex, we are, in the words of Robert Bork, slouching towards Gomorrah. Reform and renewal in the Church will be more complete inasmuch as there are Catholics who commit themselves to fidelity to all Catholic doctrine.
The Gay Subculture
The complete sex abuse crisis is about much more than pedophilia. It is about the abuse of teenage boys and young men. It is time for everyone in the Church to admit that the great majority of victims—more than 80%—are male. This is not to attack good clergymen, faithful to celibacy and doctrine, who have same-sex attraction. It is to join Bishop Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, in shining a light on the gay subculture in the clergy that includes many bishops, a subculture that is sexually active and working overtime to change doctrine on sex and marriage in order to justify its behavior. Although few of these actively gay clergymen have molested children, they take care of their own, and they are ruthless toward those who oppose their agenda. Not a single bishop has admitted knowing about Archbishop McCarrick’s decades-long behavior! The Vatican’s response has been woefully inadequate because it reduces the crisis to pedophilia. The pope himself needs to clean up the heretical and promiscuous gay subculture throughout the hierarchy and the Church.
Good calls are being made for accountability, including financial audits to follow the money. Complete accountability would call for knowing which dioceses have complied with the Congregation for Catholic Education’s 2005 instruction to “. . . not admit to the seminary or to Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’.” This admonition was reiterated in the 2016 instruction of the Congregation for the Clergy, that “If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination.” The magnitude of the crimes committed by clerical offenders clearly vindicates the wisdom of these instructions, even if they mean that Holy Orders would be denied to men with same-sex attraction who would be celibate and faithful to all doctrine.
A complete address of this crisis would include the religious orders, male and female, and not just the diocesan clergy. Has there been abuse and seduction in a religious order? Is fidelity to all Catholic doctrine insisted on before and after vows are made? Is there a subculture deviating from celibacy with impunity? Have the above Vatican instructions been obeyed?
The heretical and activist gay subculture includes the many, mostly heterosexual, lay employees of Catholic institutions who, while having zero tolerance for child abuse, have no problem with un-celibate clergy because they have no problem with abortion, same-sex marriage, co-habitation, fornication, contraception, and/or other infidelities to Catholic doctrine. “Whatever adults consent to” is the “morality” actually believed in by many collecting a paycheck from the Catholic Church. Often enough, supporting the Sexual Revolution is required for promotion in a Catholic institution.
Where Hope Lies
In the history of the Church, there have never been more members of the laity who understand the Faith. Regarding sexuality, the Church has greatly benefitted from the work of Janet Smith, Mary Eberstadt, Jason Evert, Ryan Anderson, and Christopher West. But there are many others who go about serving Our Lord, even when they are unappreciated, marginalized, and beleaguered in their heterodox Catholic institutions. How many bishops are identifying and reaching out to the orthodox members of their dioceses, finding ways to use their skills, and protecting them from heterodox superiors?
There have never been so many excellent resources for growing in orthodox Catholic Faith: books, periodicals, websites, DVDs, podcasts, etc.
There have never been more orthodox communities and movements, formal and informal, for lay people to support each other in fidelity.
We now have many news sources dedicated to the truth, such as EWTN, the National Catholic Register, Catholic News Agency, LifeSite News, The Catholic Thing, Crisis Magazine, Catholic World Report, and Catholic Herald.
There are many faithful bishops – such as Bishop Morlino – priests, and deacons. God bless them and keep them strong!
Ultimately, our hope is in the Lord. The Holy Spirit is always available. God has gifted human beings with free will. Conversion is possible.
Action That Is Called For
Archbishop McCarrick’s penance should be to disclose to us (not just to a Vatican investigator in private) who in the hierarchy knew about his behavior and how he was able to rise through the ranks to the preeminent position of authority. He should tell us everything he knows about the heretical gay subculture in the Church. The same goes for everyone, including bishops, in a position to do so. Everyone in a position of responsibility in a Catholic institution would do well to heed the readings from the prophet Ezekiel we have heard at Mass since the Feast of the Assumption, such as:
As I live, says the Lord God, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd; because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep; because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God: I swear I am coming against these shepherds (Ezekiel 34:8-10).
Calls are being made for bishops to do public penance. This will be meaningless without their public assent to all doctrine. And every bishop needs to demand of the leaders of the institutions in their diocese: Show me how your institution witnesses in word and deed that all Catholic doctrine is objectively true. The laity need to make the same demand and then give or withhold financial support accordingly.
We must trust God, not human beings; trust the Sacrament of Holy Orders instituted by Christ, Apostolic Succession, and Papal Primacy. We must realize that all who are ordained, including popes, fall within the entire range of virtue and vice.
We really hear the Gospel, we really experience the unconditional love of God when we realize that God does not love us just as we are. “But God proves His love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God loves us in spite of who we are. Each of us is a sinner. Sin is infidelity to Catholic doctrine. God does not love infidelity to doctrine. God hates our sins while still loving us. We accept God’s love to the extent that we are faithful to all Catholic doctrine. As Our Lord said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Thanks be to God it is never too late to become more faithful.