Maike Hickson

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Thousands sign petition opposing McCarrick’s pal Cdl. Tobin as next D.C. archbishop

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

October 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – On October 19, prominent Catholic laywoman and lawyer Donna Bethell launched a petition asking the papal nuncio of the United States “not to support the appointment of Cardinal Tobin” as the next Archbishop of Washington, D.C. This petition, initiated by a single person, has already gained over 2,400 signatures since its inception.

As LifeSiteNews recently reported, Cardinal Joseph Tobin is “a front-runner among the candidates for appointment as the next Archbishop of Washington, D.C.,” according to rumors in Rome. Commenting on this matter, Sohrab Ahmari in a New York Post column called this possible Tobin nomination “a slap in the face, if that happens.”

Mrs. Donna Bethell – who was until a month ago the Chairman of Christendom College's Board of Directors and who was the Under Secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy from 1988 to 1989 – responded in a similar fashion to the rumors about Cardinal Tobin, a close confidant of former Cardinal McCarrick. Tobin is currently the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, McCarrick’s See before he came to the nation’s capital.

According to the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Viganò, the former U.S. apostolic nuncio, McCarrick was directly involved with Tobin's appointment to Newark (emphasis in original): “The appointments of Blase Cupich to Chicago and Joseph W. Tobin to Newark were orchestrated by [Cardinals] McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl, united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of coverup of abuses by the other two. Their names were not among those presented by the Nunciature for Chicago and Newark.” 

As an individual, Bethell composed a petition and wrote to some of her own contacts on October 19: “It appears that Cardinal Joseph Tobin is being seriously considered as the next Archbishop of Washington. I am petitioning the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, who works closely with the Vatican on appointments, not to support the appointment of Cardinal Tobin for the reasons given in the petition's  explanation. Please help!”

Asking for people to share her petition, she added: “Even [if] you are not a resident of the Archdiocese of Washington, even if you are not a resident of the United States, this matters to you. The Cardinal Archbishop of Washington is necessarily a leading prelate in the nation and in the whole Church. His voice will be heard and it can make a difference in the issues of faith and morals that are facing our Church today. We need a strong advocate of the Faith in this crucial position.”

The fact that a single person can gain so much support with a petition shows how people look upon the possibility of having Cardinal Tobin as Archbishop of Washington, D.C.

As Bethell argues in her petition, “Cardinal Joseph Tobin has been closely connected to former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whom Pope Francis removed from the College of Cardinals because of his sexual assaults against minors, seminarians, and priests.” Additionally, Tobin should have been aware of some of McCarrick’s misdeeds, in part due to the fact that he is the successor of McCarrick in the Newark archdiocese, “which made a cash settlement to a lawsuit arising from then-Archbishop McCarrick's assault on a seminarian.”

In Bethell's eyes, “it appears that he [Tobin] joined the conspiracy of silence that enabled ex-Cardinal McCarrick's activities to remain hidden even as he enjoyed McCarrick's support in becoming Archbishop of Newark and a Cardinal.”

Therefore, she argues, this prelate should not be given the influential position in Washington, since he himself is enmeshed in the McCarrick scandal: “No one who might be implicated in that investigation as either covering up or enabling ex-Cardinal McCarrick should be appointed to Washington until the investigation is complete.”

Bethell earlier published a statement on LifeSiteNews concerning the U.S. sex abuse crisis. She made it clear that the Catholic laity are demanding from the hierarchy a clear and honest accounting of their negligent omissions and acts of commission. She said: “Every Bishop needs to admit whatever sexual activity he has committed with minors or adults of either sex. Every Bishop must admit to any cover-up activity he has committed, including moving priests around or putting them back in ministry without telling parishioners about their records of abuse. He must report any legal settlements and payments and release victims from confidentiality agreements.”

“And if a Bishop knows of abusive or cover-up activity by another Bishop, then he needs to follow our Lord's instructions and call that Bishop privately to admit it or resign. If the Bishop refuses, then the Church must be told. Any Bishop who will not make a statement must resign,” Bethell added.

With her new petition,. Bethell hopes to help establish a network of the Catholic laity. She told LifeSiteNews: “I want to emphasize that this is not just about the appointment of the next Archbishop of Washington, although that is our immediate concern. We are building an effective means of communicating with one another and therefore, as a group, with the hierarchy. We don't have any way of doing this so the laity need to get organized. We have a huge job to do. The recovery of holiness in the clergy will not happen without the insistence and example of the laity.”

Below is the full text of Donna Bethell's petition to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the current apostolic nuncio to the U.S.:

Cardinal Joseph Tobin has been closely connected to former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whom Pope Francis removed from the College of Cardinals because of his sexual assaults against minors, seminarians, and priests. Cardinal Tobin is Archbishop of Newark, which was McCarrick's archdiocese and which made a cash settlement to a lawsuit arising from then-Archbishop McCarrick's assault on a seminarian. Cardinal Tobin claims he knew nothing about ex-Cardinal McCarrick's crimes, although he heard rumors and didn't believe them. He should have asked a few questions and he would have learned that his own archdiocese had settled a lawsuit. In fact, on becoming Archbishop, he should have reviewed the history of sexual assault cases and lawsuits for the archdiocese. In effect, it appears that he joined the conspiracy of silence that enabled ex-Cardinal McCarrick's activities to remain hidden even as he enjoyed McCarrick's support in becoming Archbishop of Newark and a Cardinal.

The U.S. Bishops have asked Pope Francis for a full investigation of ex-Cardinal McCarrick's activities and how he rose in the Church. The Pope has not ordered such an investigation, so the Bishops are starting their own investigation. Now reports from Rome say Cardinal Tobin is being seriously considered for Archbishop of Washington. No one who might be implicated in that investigation as either covering up or enabling ex-Cardinal McCarrick should be appointed to Washington until the investigation is complete.

This appointment is important not only for the residents of the Archdiocese of Washington. The Cardinal Archbishop of Washington is necessarily a leading prelate in the nation and in the whole Church. His voice will be heard and it can make a difference in the issues of faith and morals that are facing our Church today. We need a strong advocate of the Faith in this crucial position.

The petition can be viewed and signed here.

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.