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New York seminary ‘had to hide handsome ones’ when McCarrick visited: Priests

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NEWARK, New Jersey, August 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In the early 1970s, Father Theodore McCarrick’s predilection for young men was allegedly so well known that members of a New York seminary joked they had to “hide the handsome ones” when he visited.

More priests have come forward to give Catholic News Agency (CNA) this and other evidence of ex-Cardinal McCarrick’s reputation for inappropriate behavior towards seminarians and young priests. In addition, they have reported that a homosexual network of priests and seminarians are still active in contemporary Newark. Ted McCarrick served as the Archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000. 

Citing what would prove well-founded fears about “ecclesiastical repercussions,” CNA’s sources remained anonymous.

A male religious who was at the New York seminary in the 1970s told CNA that the staff frankly discussed McCarrick’s attraction to young men.  

“The dean of our theology school was a classmate at CUA with McCarrick, and he knew about the rumors,” he said, “he spoke about them with the other faculty and theologians very openly.”  

When McCarrick accompanied the Archbishop of New York of the time, Cardinal Terence Cooke, there was a “standing joke that they had to ‘hide the handsome ones’ before [McCarrick] arrived,” the priest revealed. 

A priest from the Diocese of Newark told CNA that it was “uncomfortable” when McCarrick, now Newark’s archbishop, visited their seminary, for he often touched seminarians while talking to them, sometimes placing his hand on a man’s thigh. 

It was really unnerving,” this priest told the news service. “On the one hand you knew – knew – what was going on but you couldn’t believe it.”  

Other priests talked of more willing proteges: smart and attractive “nephews” working in the chancellery office, spending nights in the cathedral rectory or at McCarrick’s beach house. And although they credited McCarrick for recruiting large numbers of men to the priesthood, the whistle-blowers observed that many of them eventually left the seminary while those who remained have not been good priest material. 

CNA cited the plight of Fr. Desmond Rossi, who told America magazine that when he was a seminarian, not only was he touched and harrassed by Archbishop McCarrick, he was sexually assaulted by two upper-year seminarians, one of whom is still in active ministry in Newark today. Out of a sense of loyalty, Rossi did not report them for years. 

“Part of the problem was, I think, [Archbishop McCarrick] kind of gave license to others by his own behavior,” Fr Rossi told America. “When you have that kind of corrupted morality at the top, it gives permission to others.”

According to Rossi, after further overtures from McCarrick he successfully applied for a transfer from the Diocese of Newark to the Diocese of Albany. In 2004 he was awarded a $35,000 settlement to cover the costs of counseling. 

CNA reported that after Rossi’s story appeared this summer, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the present Archbishop of Newark, promised to “reexamine the matter.”

Other stories coming out of Newark include allegations against Fr. James Weiner who, according to CNA’s sources, holds cocktail parties for a network of same-sex attracted priests. Three Newark priests told similar stories of having been invited, being shocked by the lascivious atmosphere, and beating a hasty retreat. They echoed other priests’ and seminarians’ stories that suggested that a homosexual network has flourished in Newark’s Immaculate Conception Seminary for the past thirty years.  

Cardinal Tobin’s Denials

Since the publication of CNA’s in-depth report, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who claims the Church is “moving on the question of same-sex couples,” has fired off a letter stating that “no-one... has ever spoken to me about a gay sub-culture in Newark.” 

“I would like to believe that CNA’s sources were not, in fact, priests of the Archdiocese of Newark,” he added. “I repeat my willingness to meet with any brother who wishes to share his concerns regarding allegations in the press or personal experience in our local church.” 

Rod Dreher, who has written prolifically on the topic of clerical sexual misconduct, suggested that Cardinal Tobin has not been straightforward.

“It is beyond ridiculous that Cardinal Tobin claims no knowledge of a gay subculture in the Newark presbyterate,” Dreher wrote in The American Conservative.  “How stupid does he think people are?”

Dreher wrote that it is “almost touching” that Tobin has forbidden priests (“and, I’m told, all employees of the archdiocese”) to speak to the press. 

“He’s lost control of this story now,” Dreher opined. “I suspect that most, maybe all, bishops have. Priests and lay employees know that if they want to see change, they’re going to have to take action on their own.” 

Dreher, who has extensively investigated clerical sexual abuse of children and its cover-up, noted that Cardinal Tobin will be appearing at the World Meeting of Families, moderating a panel titled “When Plates Fly: Pope Francis on the Reality of Family Love in Family Life.”

Cardinal Tobin attracted recent attention when he mistakenly made public a sentimental message on Twitter: “Supposed to be airborne in 10 minutes. Nighty-night, baby. I love you”. 

The Cardinal subsequently explained that this message was to one of his younger sisters.

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