Saturday, August 04, 2018

McCarrick fallout

Years ago a co-worker of mine noticed that I was Catholic and happily told me that he was as well. He was an altar server at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for high Masses and told me that Cardinal McCarrick was the most political man he'd ever met. I asked how so and he told me a tale. My co-worker was coming out of the sacristy and greeted Cardinal McCarrick in the hall. The cardinal asked him who was in the sacristy, what they were talking about and what kind of rings they were wearing. My co-worker told him and then the cardinal took a jewelry case or pouch (my co-worker may have specified but I can't recall that) from his pocket and picked from the collection an episcopal ring that most resembled the ones that the other bishops were wearing and put it on. He was ready and sailed in to charm everyone.

I myself, once met the cardinal on the street  near the DC Cathedral and  I was surprised to find him all alone. I'd read stories about the cardinal and the beach house by that time and found myself expecting to see some sign of it in his face and manner but of course I didn't. He did not behave anything like the white collar homosexual men I see everyday on the street downtown or any of the flamboyant priests I've come across. He is a remarkable, well trained chameleon.

What is interesting and hopeful is that the laity is not reacting to Cardinal McCarrick like most of us  did in 2002.  The bishops can hold another meeting and update the Dallas charter again but that won't cut it this time. People are not dropping this. They are asking awkward questions about who enabled Cardinal McCarrick and who rose high because they were close to him. I've also read a lot of discussions about protesting by withholding money, demanding lay oversight of known problem seminaries and  the feasibility of lay people buying convents and church buildings to keep them from being sold off to pay secret settlements.

Besides these there have been a few naive calls for married priests as if being forced to marry would actually keep a homosexual chaste. My mother's family are Southern Baptists. In the subset of their denomination no-one can become a pastor without having a wife. This is to avoid dating problems with young ministers. Interestingly enough, the deacons of my family's church broke this rule when they hired the current pastor. That caused a great deal of upset and later the reverend's search for a mate darn near split the congregation and resentments still simmer. One old man even told the reverend to leave when he showed up for a sick call at the old man's house with his girlfriend in tow. Sick calls with the reverend are a duty of the church's First Lady or members of the shut in ministry and the old congregation member was shocked and angry.

 To avoid all this hullabaloo many young ministers get married in the seminary. Not all of these marriages are love matches. It's not unheard of for a minister who wants to lead his own  congregation to get married to a woman who he thinks will make a good First Lady and hope for the best. He may come to love her later or he may find "comfort" elsewhere but he's not going to get his own church without her. A man who is determined to do something, will. If a predator has to get married to have a perfect disguise while he preys on the innocent, he will.

The important thing this go round is that people are talking amongst themselves and talking back to bishops and priests who try to smooth this over or act as if McCarrick was a complete surprise and a one time fluke.