In an interview by Matthew Bunson of the National Catholic Register, Mr. Bunson posed a most important “pre-annual meeting” question to sociologist Father Sullen:
This report is being released just ahead of the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly, where they will be discussing issues related to the McCarrick scandal and other aspects of clergy sexual abuse. Is it your hope that the report’s findings will assist the bishops in better understanding the factors in play regarding clergy sexual abuse and in drafting new policies that can deal with them more effectively?
I certainly hope that that will be the case. But not just the bishops. Any actor of goodwill that works to relieve the Church of this crime that is so harmful to our children, to our young people, is someone that I would like to help. And I hope that the information in this report is helpful to them from any point of view. If the bishops have a will and a mind to seriously address this issue, then I hope it’s helpful to them. But what we’re finding out is that if the bishops aren’t going to clean house, others are. We now have a federal investigation into some Catholic dioceses, and we’re likely to have many more. And I have to say that I welcome that.
Like most Catholics today, the credibility of our bishops, to me, is in question on this issue.The issue of the credibility of the hierarchy is nothing new. In 2004, Theologian and author Phil Lawyer wrote about it in his masterful book, “The Faithful,Departed”:
“The thesis of this book,” writes Lawler, “is that the sex abuse scandal in American Catholicism was not only aggravated but actually caused by the willingness of church leaders to sacrifice the essential for the inessential; to build up the human institution even to the detriment of the divine mandate.” Bishops again and again responded to the crisis as institutional managers, employing public relations stratagems to evade, deceive, and distract attention from their own responsibility. Lawler several times invokes the terse observation of St. Augustine, “God does not need my lie.” The bishops lied, says Lawler, and many of them are still lying. This is offered not as an accusation but as a conclusion that he believes is compelled by the evidence.
...“The first aspect of the scandal, the sexual abuse of children, has been acknowledged and addressed,” Lawler writes. “The second aspect, the rampant homosexuality among Catholic priests, has been acknowledged but not addressed, and later even denied. . . . The third aspect of the scandal has never even been acknowledged by American church leaders.” The third aspect, the malfeasance of bishops, “is today the most serious of all.” (Review by Dad29)
And long before Lawler’s book, Psychologist and former Benedictine Monk, Doctor Richard Sipe reported his findings to Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego in a letter:
“Sooner or later it will become broadly obvious that there is a systemic connection between the sexual activity by, among and between clerics in positions of authority and control, and the abuse of children. When men in authority—cardinals, bishops, rectors, abbots, confessors, professors—are having or have had an unacknowledged-secret-active-sex life under the guise of celibacy an atmosphere of tolerance of behaviors within the system is made operative. Many of the sexual patterns are set up during seminary years or in early years after ordination when sexual experimentation is initiated or sustained. The 2009 Vatican Report (in English) on American seminaries invented a new term—transitional homosexuality. I believe this is due to the awareness of the frequent activity in the homosocial structure of seminary and religious life.” (July 28, 2016)
Dr. Sipe wrote an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI:
As the crisis of sexual abuse of our children and vulnerable adults by priests and bishops in the United States is unfolding the dynamics of this dysfunction are becoming painfully clear.
This sexual aberration is not generated from the bottom up—that is only from unsuitable candidates—but from the top down—that is from the sexual behaviors of superiors, even bishops and cardinals.
The problem facing us in the American church is systemic. I will present Your Holiness with only a few examples:
Bishop Thomas Lyons, now deceased, who was an Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. groomed, seduced, and sexually abused a boy from the time he was seven years old until he was seventeen. When that boy grew into manhood he in turn abused his own child and young relatives. When I asked him about his actions he said to me, “I thought it was natural. Father (Lyons) told me a priest showed him this when he was growing up.” A pattern was perpetuated for at least four generations.
Abbot John Eidenschink of St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota sexually abused some of his young monks during confession and spiritual direction. He admitted this behavior in regard to two of the monks I interviewed. They described the behavior in disturbingly graphic detail. Older monks that I interviewed told me that they knew that John’s Novice Master was inappropriately affectionate with him during his two years as a novice. More than a dozen of the monks of this monastery have been credibly accused of abuse of minors while Abbot Eidenschink was promoted to President of his Monastic Congregation, the American Cassinese.
While I was Adjunct Professor at a Pontifical Seminary, St. Mary’s Baltimore (1972-1984) a number of seminarians came to me with concerns about the behavior of Theodore E. McCarrick then bishop of Metuchen New Jersey. It has been widely known for several decades that Bishop/ Archbishop now Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick took seminarians and young priests to a shore home in New Jersey, sites in New York, and other places and slept with some of them. He established a coterie of young seminarians and priests that he encouraged to call him “Uncle Ted.” I have his correspondence where he referred to these men as being “cousins” with each other.
Catholic journalist Matt C. Abbott already featured the statements of two priests (2005) and one ex-priest (2006) about McCarrick. All three were "in the know" and aware of Cardinal McCarrick’s activities in the same mode as I had heard at the seminary. None of these reporters, as far as Abbott knew, had sexual contact with the cardinal in the infamous sleepovers, but one had first hand reports from a seminarian/priest who did share a bed and received cards and letters from McCarrick. The modus operendi is similar to the documents and letters I have received from a priest who describes in detail McCarrick’s sexual advances and personal activity. At least one prominent journalist at the Boston Globe was aware of McCarrick from his investigation of another priest, but until now legal documentation has not been available. And even at this point the complete story cannot be published because priest reporters are afraid of reprisals.
I know the names of at least four priests who have had sexual encounters with Cardinal McCarrick. I have documents and letters that record the first hand testimony and eye witness accounts of McCarrick, then archbishop of Newark, New Jersey actually having sex with a priest, and at other times subjecting a priest to unwanted sexual advances.
Your Holiness, you must seek out and listen to the stories, as I have from many priests about their seduction by highly placed clerics, and the dire consequences in their lives that does end in their victimization alone.
Such behavior fosters confusion and makes celibacy problematic for seminarians and priests. This abuse paves the way for them to pass the tradition on—to have sex with each other and even with minors.
The pattern and practice of priests in positions of responsibility for the training of men for the priesthood—rectors, confessors, spiritual directors, novice masters, and other clergy—who have sexual relations with seminarians and other priests is rampant in the Catholic Church in the United States. I have reviewed hundreds of documents that record just such behavior and interviewed scores of priests who have suffered from this activity. Priests, sexually active in the above manner have frequently been appointed by the Vatican to be ordained bishops or even created cardinals.” (April 2008)Nabi Asketh: When will the hierarchy wake up? Given the depth and pattern of the cover-up can they ever be trusted? The dioceses of Youngstown and Steubenville are the most recent to release names of their credibly accused clergy...but can the authors of the lists be trusted? Nabi is aware of one priest from the Steubenville diocese who was released by a former bishop and who made his way to the hills of WV. Why was his name not on the list? Will the diocese in WV include all names, including that of a priest who got intoxicated and raped a mildly retarded boy two weeks into his 18th birthday? Or was the victim “two old” by merely two weeks to make the cut?
My Friends, the cover-up continues. The laity must rise up and speak out in significant numbers….