Rorate Caeli

Op-Ed, by Fr. Cipolla: "Uncle Ted: The Homosexual Subculture of Bishops & Priests is as large as ever"

One would have to be a hermit not to know about quondam Cardinal McCarrick’s precipitous fall from grace.  The New York Times, probably with great relish, ran three stories on McCarrick’s other career as “Uncle Ted”, sexual predator of young men.  The story was taken up by the whole mediasphere for at least a week and still continues at this writing. The Church, thanks be to God, acted swiftly, stripping him of his public ministry, removing his membership in the College of Cardinals, and planning a trial in the Vatican in the future.  The secular press often wonders how such a man could have been promoted to the very highest levels in the Church.  But that sense of wonder masks an assumption that moral corruption in the Catholic Church is far and wide among its clerics. 

The fact is that many priests and bishops knew about McCarrick’s predatory behavior for years.  Even I, a simple parish priest from Connecticut, heard from priests in the know  about Uncle Ted and his exploits. The question then still remains:  why did he rise so high in the hierarchy when so many people, including those in Rome, knew his sordid history?  Those in charge of making bishops cannot claim ignorance given the paper trail of payments paid to settle accusations made against him.  So the obvious conclusion is that it is true that moral corruption has infected the Church at all levels.

Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, in two articles in the Boston Globe, spoke about two issues related to the McCarrick scandal.  The first is, given the zero tolerance policy with respect to priests, that a clear and swift procedural policy must be set up for bishops and the rest of the hierarchy of the Church with respect to grossly immoral sexual behavior.  Let us hope that happens very soon. The Cardinal also warned about the further erosion of the already weak moral authority of the Church.  The latter concern of the Cardinal is very real.  Catholics for the most part, when they hear of reprehensible behavior on the part of priests, are saddened deeply.  Some get angry to the point where they stop going to Mass. But most Catholics have always understood that the efficacy of the sacraments does not depend on the moral state of the priest.  And yet Catholics often find themselves trying to defend the Church even to their own children, who view the Church with suspicion and hostility, often because of the priests’ scandals that continue even today.  I have heard priests say things like:  the 70s and 80s were pretty bad with all those terrible scandals involving priests, but let’s stop dwelling on that and move on.  But there is no moving on when the moral corruption in the Church still so obviously exists. 

 To believe that the McCarrick scandal is a singular situation is impossible for a rational person.  For such a parlous situation to go on for so many years it is impossible to believe that other bishops knew nothing about this.  The recent protests of a number of bishops that they knew nothing about Uncle Ted until the scandal broke cannot be seriously entertained.  When one ponders the question about why pedophile and hebefile priests were shuffled around for so many years by bishops, one striking and logical answer is this:  that the bishops themselves were compromised.  There are indeed many bishops who understand the gravitas of their God-given office and who understand that their calling demands a real call to holiness.  But it seems that there has been and continues to be a strong homosexual subculture made up of priests and bishops who know each other and protect each other. Ask any seminarian of fifty years ago, twenty years ago, even today.  They all know of the existence of this subculture and often accept it as just how it is in the Church.  How many of us parish priests know young men who would have made fine priests but who left seminary because of the noxious presence of this subculture?  All too many of us.

There have been and still are dioceses with a strong gay subculture among priests.  In some dioceses they are in control and are referred to as the Gay Mafia or the Lavender Hill Mob.  Now the press is not at all interested in this subculture, because the liberal press thinks that the Catholic Church’s attitude towards homosexuality and homosexual acts is wrong headed, and they hope that the Church will become as enlightened as they are and accept priests who engage in homosexual sex.  Pope Benedict XVI spoke of cleaning out the filth in the stables.  That is an indirect way of referring to the sexual immorality within the clergy, most of which is homosexual in nature.  It is because of this subculture that the criminal behavior of priests involving boys and young men was hidden for so long and finally, because of the secular press, was forced into the scorching light of the day.  Uncle Ted was part of this subculture and was protected by it.  It would be a great blessing for the Church if the whole subculture were exposed for all to see.  Perhaps we can hope that the McCarrick affair will be the beginning of this exposure and the filth will be cleansed from the stables.

Do we have bishops who have the virility to do what has to be done in seminaries, in parishes, in the episcopate, in the clerical bureaucracy in Rome?  We must pray for our good bishops that they may find the strength to do what has to be done.  If not, then there will be a succession of “Uncles”, each of whom will further erode the moral authority of the Church of Jesus Christ.