The U.S. Catholic Bishops “Don’t Wanna Go to Rehab.”

By John Zmirak Published on November 15, 2018

Imagine if in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) had met. But it didn’t rebuke Weinstein. Or establish firm policies to keep such men from preying on actresses. It invited one of the studio heads who’d covered up for him the longest to speak. And it kicked the can down the road. Would it ever solve the problem of sexual exploitation? No telling. It even listened politely as a major studio head claimed that the “casting couch” amounts to “consensual relationships.”

Now imagine yourself a lifetime lover of movies, maybe even a veteran of the film industry.

That’s how Catholics feel today. Except, of course, much worse.

Will Catholic Bishops Ever Hold Each Other Accountable?

Our bishops are meeting in Baltimore. There was only one major item on the agenda. Would the U.S. bishops establish some means, any means, to punish its own errant members? Such as those who a) covered up for the sex abuse of minors? Or b) preyed on seminarians?

All this happens in the wake of the grotesque revelations about the one-time most prominent Catholic bishop in the country, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. We learned last year that he molested a young man he’d baptized as a baby. And groomed young seminarians, pressuring them to sleep in his bed. And, according to the former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, many of his bishop colleagues knew all about his predation on seminarians. In fact, Vigano asserted, Pope Francis knew. But revoked the (mild) punishment which Pope Benedict had imposed on him. Even made McCarrick again a power broker in the U.S. church, and used him as a diplomat in China.

The bishops as a whole acted like an addict in deep denial.

All these issues came to a head with the drip-drip of revelations from state attorneys general. One after another has announced that he plans to investigate the church. The Pennsylvania A.G.’s report was especially shocking. It exposed patterns of cover-up going back decades. For instance, on the part of current (soon to retire) Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. One priest who created sadistic child porn on church property received a pension for a decade while he lived with a lover in Cuba. Running a gay b&b. When one of his guests murdered him, Wuerl flew him back to Pittsburgh for what onlookers have called a hero’s funeral.

More state prosecutors have piled on, demanding church documents. Pressure is building for the U.S. Department of Justice to consider a RICO investigation of U.S. bishops. That’s fitting, since some repeatedly shuffled abusive priests around the country.

Pope Francis Shuts Critics Down

In the face of all this, Pope Francis has coldly rebuked Abp. Vigano, and refused to release the documents (now in Vatican archives) that would prove or disprove his charges. Francis has compared critics of his own decisions to Satan. And he has restricted the travel and speaking engagements of bishops such as Athanasius Schneider and Cardinal Raymond Burke, who have questioned his overtures in favor of a laxer approach to sexual sins.

Some Catholics (I included) had hoped that the growing legal and financial pressure on the U.S. church would force the pope’s hand. Much of the Vatican’s money and influence is dependent on U.S. Catholics, who still attend Mass and donate much more than most other Western Catholics. Some forty percent of the U.S. bishops’ income rests, however, not on laymen’s tithes, but federal contracts serving groups such as immigrants. That money could go away, if U.S. lawmakers decide to redirect such contracts to organizations that aren’t stonewalling on child abuse allegations.

I wish it could have been different. I wish that more gorgeous, historic urban churches built by immigrants’ donated pennies in past centuries wouldn’t end up being sold to serve as discos or mosques. That more Catholic schools like the one I went to wouldn’t close, more parishes get shuttered. That more kids wouldn’t get abused by priests whose bishops still don’t get it.

But Pope Francis stepped in at the very last minute, once bishops had already gathered. He sent an order to the bishops not to vote on any plan for reforming their ranks. They duly obeyed his order, and even defeated a toothless, symbolic motion to ask the Vatican to release the files on Cardinal McCarrick. It received less than 40 percent of the votes:

One of the worst cover-up artists, ex-Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, actually addressed the proceedings. To pontificate, not to atone for his previous sins and crimes, which apparently included perjury. Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago arose to insist that bishops not lump in sexual harassment and predation on seminarians with child abuse, since the former might include “consensual” relationships. As if “consensual” sodomy between bishops and future priests were somehow … not a problem for Christians.

A Victim Speaks. Are Bishops Listening?

Meanwhile, across town, at a lay gathering organized by the whistle-blowing Catholic journalists of Church Militant, someone very different rose to speak. Giving his full name for the first time in public was James Grein, whom ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick baptized as a baby, then molested at age 15. McCarrick is still an archbishop, and still receives a pension, free housing, and Cadillac medical insurance at Church expense. Until last year, he ran the Papal Foundation, steering tens of millions of dollars from earnest U.S. donors to pay off shady papal debts in Italy. Right now, churchmen’s main concern seems to be to keep him away from reporters.

Below is some news coverage of Church Militant’s rally, including victim James Grein’s statement. (Footage of whole event here.)

You might have thought that the U.S. bishops would have invited James Grein to speak. And Mahony to be silent. That they’d have sternly rebuked Cupich for holding Catholic seminaries to a lower standard than Hollywood movie studios. That they would have put some pressure on Pope Francis, using their own considerable financial muscle.

That’s what I would have thought, as a Catholic, until quite recently, too.

We Can Stop Any Time We Want

Instead, the bishops as a whole (with some worthy individual outliers) acted like an addict in deep denial. Who claims that he has “hit bottom” and changed his ways, but clearly hasn’t. He can’t. He’s caught in a profound, self-destructive tailspin. His friends all are fellow addicts, or else hapless enablers. He can’t and won’t stop until he has burned every bridge, emptied each bank account, and found himself homeless and friendless. Then, maybe then, he will turn to a Higher Power.

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It seems like that’s the script for the U.S. church now. I wish it could have been different. I wish that more gorgeous, historic urban churches built by immigrants’ donated pennies in past centuries wouldn’t end up being sold to serve as discos or mosques. That more Catholic schools like the one I went to wouldn’t close, more parishes wouldn’t get shuttered. That more kids wouldn’t get abused by priests whose bishops still don’t get it. And more young men seeking to follow God’s call to the priesthood wouldn’t be confused, corrupted, or run off by seminaries that have turned into gay bath houses. That the Church’s reputation, that of its many good priests and bishops, wouldn’t keep getting dragged through the filth by gay cabals and corrupt, worldly prelates.

But wishing won’t make it so. If this meeting proves to be a turning point, then we’ll see, looking back, an historic missed opportunity. A fork in the road, and we took the wrong one. I’m not sure how long American society, government, and law will go on cutting slack for the U.S. Catholic church. Trusting it with hundred-million dollar federal contracts. Recognizing the Vatican diplomatically. Taking bishops seriously when they address American politics. Accepting Catholics (as once it didn’t) in the mainstream of faiths, to be trusted with (for instance) seats on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bishops, at Pope Francis’ stern insistence, may have irrevocably set the Church in the U.S. on a stony, tortuous course through Mordor. Only God knows what it will look like, how small and battered its remnant will be, when it finishes hitting bottom, and finally turns toward the Light.

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  • SkyGirl315

    People need to leave Catholicism anyway. It’s full of doctrinal error.

    • apollo

      Pray for the Catholic faithful.

    • Jennifer Hartline

      Not here, not now. Don’t come here to bash Catholic doctrine.

      • Fabricante

        I agree the response doesn’t have any relation to the subject matter of the post but let that go. What I will say is I am rather concerned about how the younger Catholics are handling this. Excluding the select few I see Catholic youths in my area of Boston have an oblivious demeanor when it comes to this subject matter of church happenings. Whatever Pop Francis does is glossed or made excuse for and “the butterflies and rainbow of feeling God’s love” is always pushed front and center. I think it sets a false mentality and even though God will triumph in the end but we as Catholic have some “blue collar” work to do we were given mouths to speak up and hands to make a difference. Some things are ugly, dirty, and painful but you can’t have the good without that.

    • I am not Spartacus

      Piss off…

    • JP

      Its the doctrines and practices that have caused this. So long as there is a papacy this will never go away.

      • Todd19731950

        It’s precisely the doctrines that Jesus gave us. NO one may make up his own doctrine to suit himself, not Luther, not Knox, not you and me.

        • JP

          There is no office of a papacy in the NT. Its Rome that builds its church on this false doctrine.

          • Fyodor D

            Would that be the NT that was voted on and accepted by the….ummm, Catholic Church???

          • JP

            Irrelevant. No church makes the NT the inspired-inerrant Word of God.

          • opinionated1945

            Perhaps you should study the history of how the NT came to be?

          • JP

            I know how it did.

          • Eleanor Rossman

            There was traditon before Scripture. Got it?

          • JP

            What tradition and how do you know?

          • helena handbasket

            “What about that little gem, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

            Matthew 16:18

            You remember, Peter. First Bishop of ROME.

          • JP

            Peter was never a bishop at Rome. Even catholic sources acknowledge this:

        • No, it’s not. Jesus never mentioned indulgences. Jesus never mentioned Purgatory. You think that no man is allowed to make up his own doctrines? Uhm, LOL.

          The very people you condemn relentlessly source their doctrines to the Bible. Oh well. I guess you, like most Catholics, have no real argument against the Reformers because you know nothing about them.

          • Eleanor Rossman

            Jesus never mentioned the Trinity. Do you deny the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? To your detriment

          • No need to mention Purgatory as that is in the last 7 books of the OT.

            indulgences are doing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy as well as showing devotion to a Saint on their Feast Day where the Saint will personally vouch for you before God.

        • helena handbasket

          “If your god lets you do whatever you want, then your god is you.” — Ascension Press

      • Jennifer Hartline

        JP, with all due respect, put a sock in it.

        • JP

          With all due respect please stay in the peanut gallery. Adults are having conversation.

          • samton909

            Then you definitely should not be here.

    • samton909

      Yes, your Holiness.

    • Eleanor Rossman

      Wrong. You know it and I know it. Jesus gave Peter the keys. You changed the locks

  • David Lawrence

    My faith is really challenged these days. How many of the clergy from top to bottom participated in and/or knew of these transgressions, this culture, and for how long, but were unable to bring it to light?

    • helena handbasket

      It’s not the faith that’s in error, it’s the feet of clay who are supposed to be in charge of it.

      • David Lawrence

        Not sure I understand your comment, who said anything about anyone’s faith being in error and whose feet are made of clay?

  • sugabee43

    Anyone know where we can get a vote count on who voted yea, nay and abstained?

    • Jeffrey Job

      Church Militant. Michael Voris’s site. He’s been calling Bishops out for years and of course been slandered as the kook fringe, BY the kook fringe. Prepare to be sickened by the stories when you go there.

  • I am not Spartacus

    GREAT column.

  • Craig Roberts

    It’s official. Hell is not hot enough and eternity is not long enough. Where Satan has failed to destroy the Faith, men have stepped in and are succeeding beyond the devil’s wildest dreams.

    • Guy McClung

      There is no hell. In terms of Bergolgiansim, to say there is hell and it is forever is heresy. Yes, that leads inevitably to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is a heretic. Please read my BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR at the site The American Catholic about how non-canonical civil and criminal lawsuits are now the faithfuls’ only hope; of course, in addition to hope in Jesus, whose Church will never be prevailed against by Bergoglio,his heretical minions, or by the gates of hell. Guy McClung, Texas

  • Patmos

    The hardcore left (which is most of the left now) cuts it’s nose off despite it’s face by destroying institutions that are beneficial to them, and does so without any real idea of what to do when those institutions are gone. This is achieved by a relatively simple exploitation of the masses through playing off of their desires through manufactured grievances, like claiming that a nation is racist or that sexual perversion is a right. Never mind the absurdity of the grievance, it tugs at the heart of those masses and so it must be moved on by those masses. Cut off those masses from education and history and it makes such an exploitation that much easier.

    Any of this sound familiar? That’s because it’s happening right here in the US and the West, RIGHT NOW.

  • ArthurMcGowan

    Who have been the greatest champions of sacrilegious Communion? McCarrick and Wuerl. Wuerl even tried, around 2004, to use the USCCB as a mechanism to prohibit bishops’ even objecting to sacrilegious Communion. Cupich, O’Malley, Chaput, and many others have spoken up in favor of sacrilegious Communion. Only about ten American bishops are on record opposing it.

    The bishops have voted to give themselves permission to commit mortal sin. In “Catholics in Political Life,” they say that a bishop may “legitimately” give Communion in direct violation of can. 915. That is, to public sinners such as committed abortion promoters.

    This is a public mortal sin by which Catholics can know if their bishop is unconcerned about living habitually in mortal sin–himself, his priests, or the people. No snooping required. No private detectives. No rifling through secret archives.

    If your bishop allows (or compels) his priests to distribute Communion to notorious, obstinate sinners, then your diocese is dead or dying.

    • Savonarola

      Arthur M. – Who are the “only about ten” … opposing Communion for public pro-aborts ?

  • chriscas

    It will probably take some sort of cataclysm such as a total economic collapse, or an EMP event or WWIII to turn things around, I’m afraid. Francis and his fellow Globalists keep driving through stop signs with no desire to slow down. Sooner or later we’ll all get T-boned. Just pray that our Lord can guide us to safety, if not in this life, than in the next!!!

  • James B

    May Pope Francis’s rotten pontificate terminate soon, and a real reforming Pope replace him.

    • helena handbasket

      I normally have a novena going constantly for him to go away.

      • Jeffrey Job

        I’m personally praying many times each day for the removal of him and his disgusting cohorts. Some vatican type actually said it was a sin to pray for their removal. No word yet on how he views sodomite rape.

  • stumpc

    I there a way to determine how each individual Bishop voted?

    • Jeffrey Job

      My Bishop’s response didn’t surprise me in the least. A Cathedral book store with books written by heretics, sitting at the Altar while a heretical Priest badmouths the new translations in the Liturgy and punting on the Apostolic Visitation of severely left leaning nuns on the bus types. He decried the abuse of “children and vulnerable adults” which is code speak for avoiding the homosexual infestation of the clergy which is the REAL problem. He had the gall to have a letter read at Masses how very sorry he was. But didn’t say sorry for what exactly?

      I sent the diocese an email stating that we unenlightened peasants will be clutching our wallets as tightly as our Rosaries till the H word is clearly and loudly spelled out as the problem. Comboxes I’m reading are all saying the same thing. We the laity will not be placated this time and the money has stopped.

      One encouraging developement is the Bishop’s annual appeal for funds in Atlanta led by pro homosexualist Bishop Gregory. Last year it garnered 2300 plus donations while this year it dropped to 300. That was the number of parishioners responding. The actual donationd dropped a whopping 93%. No organized campaign, just we little people resolving in our souls not one damned dime. Ever.

      I personally would love to see 50 RICO investigations, massive convictions and incarcerations and the assets sold off to pay victims and to starve out the criminals in the Vatican. If you are a real Catholic you will attend Mass in a pasture somewhere and the parasites and the lukewarm laity will move on to more luxurious locales.

      My Bishop said how sorry he is. Not NEARLY as sorry as he’s GOING to be!

    • Jeffrey Job

      Church Militant posted the names and votes on their website.

  • Kevin Vail

    I can only conclude that Bergoglio’s goal is the destruction of the Catholic Church in America. Perhaps when only 5% of American Catholics attend mass regularly a much chastised and reduced community will rebuild.
    I can only stay in this church by moving to an Eastern rite and hope it’s enough distance from the filth and corruption of Rome. So far I’ve not taken communion and I still want to throw up when I look at any one in a collar. I doubt I trust priests again, ever. I may have to decide to leave entirely and go Orthodox.
    I pray that the clergy will receive JUSTICE from almighty God in the next life.
    I pray the US government and various states will give them justice in this life.

    • Kevin, your anger is well placed .. but your actions are not. We will not fight this by caving into not taking the sacraments. We need them more than ever. And fortunately, long ago our church dealt with the legitimacy of the sacraments by sinful priests. I’m not a big fan of our current pope .. but let’s remember … this cascades wide and deep in time and neglect. It’s the aftermath of our liberal 60’s sexualization and the bulldozing of all that was good in quest for so-called freedom of choice (and I’m not referring just to abortion) by past seminarians, formation directors, bishops, teachers, and the like.

    • Poterion

      Are all priests evil? While I am a great proponent of Orthodoxy the priests wear collars too. You’ll need to receive the Mysteries there, you can’t go without the Sacraments.

  • John

    On the positive side, the lines are being drawn and it is becoming clear who is faithful to Catholic teaching and who believes it should be rewritten to fit the spirit of the age. A new birth will emerge from this as the necessary purification of Christ’s church proceeds according to God’s plan. I pray that it may be swift.

  • Morenowthanever

    The majority of our leadership has lost the ability to repent. That is being reserved for the “accusers”.

  • Poterion

    I blame Rome for this more than the bishops. Rome through creeping authoritarianism and a misuse of Scripture can do (and does) whatever the pope says desires. This is not the practice of the Church in the first millennium. Today the bishops are the pope lackeys. Bishops are middle management that Rome can come in and correct, refute or deny. Bishops are vicars of the Pope more than Christ.

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