To many Catholic insiders, today’s news that US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington DC has been removed from public ministry comes as no surprise. For decades, many knew there were two sides to this prince of the church-Uncle Ted who sought young seminarians as bunkmates and sexual mates and the high powered prince of the church who rose from auxiliary bishop of New York to a high powered and influential DC cardinal.
It seems even the Vatican knew about Uncle Teddy. Conservative columnist Rod Dreher writes today that he knew of a high level Vatican meeting in 2002 during which laymen and clergy from the US outed Uncle Ted. In spite of the meeting, Uncle Ted would move from New York to Metuchen and eventually land the red hat in Washington.
Removing an 87-year-old from public ministry doesn’t mean much. After all, how much work could he be doing at his age? The real problem with Uncle Teddy is that those aspiring to the priesthood knew that if he came calling it would be wise not to refuse him or else you may put your vocation in jeopardy. Not unlike Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men now accused of using their power in exchange for sexual favors, a US cardinal stands accused of abusing his power and the trust so many placed in him.
It’s too bad McCarrick is too old to suffer any real consequences for his actions. In the coming weeks, more men will undoubtedly come forward and tell their tales of abuse. Once again, the Catholic Church knew that they had a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on their hands but did nothing to stop it. In fact, they did the opposite, they gave him more power and prestige. Perhaps that says more about the Catholic Church than it does about McCarrick himself. Anyway you slice it, it’s pretty damning.