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Cardinal Theodore McCarrickLisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews

June 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s removal from public ministry over allegations he sexually abused a minor may turn out to be a watershed moment in the Church’s sex abuse crisis, shining more light on both the homosexual element and cover-up of the scandal. 

After news broke Wednesday that the Vatican had banned McCarrick from ministry, numerous reports emerged saying that McCarrick’s abuse has been a widely-known “secret” for years among journalists and in the Church, and that even Rome had been made aware. 

The cardinal is alleged to have used his position to prey upon young men under his authority — with a penchant for inviting seminarians or young priests to sleep in the same bed with him — and no one willing to speak up, afraid of repercussions from blowing the whistle on the well-connected cardinal.

McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington D.C. and former archbishop of Newark and bishop of Metuchen, is alleged to have sexually abused a minor forty-seven years ago while a priest for the Archdiocese of New York.

READ: US Cardinal removed after ‘credible’ allegation he abused a minor

McCarrick said via a statement he had “absolutely no recollection” of the abuse, and that he “believed in his innocence” and was “sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through.”

But journalists who have tried to report on McCarrick’s abuse aren’t buying it.

“I believe McCarrick is lying, and that he knows he is lying,” Rod Dreher wrote at The American Conservative. “I have been waiting for this story to break since 2002.”

The Archdiocese of Newark said in a statement it had never received an accusation that Cardinal McCarrick abused a minor, but acknowledged there had been allegations in the past that he’d “engaged in sexual behavior with adults.” And further, the Newark archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen had “received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.”

Bishops complicit?

Dreher proceeded to recount in his column his experience trying to report about McCarrick. 

This included his getting tips from priests and lay people but no one willing to speak publicly, an outside attempt to pull him from the story and another publication killing its report on the matter, and a group of prominent U.S. Catholic laymen going to Rome at their own expense to warn the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops about McCarrick before he was made cardinal archbishop of Washington.

“Believe me, this single incident from the life of Uncle Ted, fifty years ago, is not the only one,” Dreher said. “I hope and pray to God that Theodore McCarrick is about to have his #MeToo moment. There are more, many more, stories to be told about Uncle Ted and his 'ministry' to young men under his authority in the Church.”

The group who’d traveled to Rome included distinguished professional Catholics concerned when McCarrick was rumored to be elevated to the Washington cardinalate about his sexual harassment of seminarians. McCarrick was “compelling seminarians to share his bed for cuddling,” Dreher said, while the allegations did not involve sexual molestation, they were for sure about unwanted sexual harassment. 

He wrote, “To refuse the archbishop’s bedtime entreaties would be to risk your future as a priest, I was told.”

The warning to Rome did no good, however, and McCarrick got his appointment to the Washington archdiocese in 2000.

Dreher recalled McCarrick’s publicly wringing his hands about how terrible the abuse scandal was, and thinking then McCarrick was “a world-class liar and hypocrite,” Dreher stated.

He posited that the warnings to the Vatican meant nothing because McCarrick was well connected and “a champion fundraiser for the Church.”

Media refused to touch McCarrick despite evidence 

Dreher also pointed out “that Cardinal McCarrick was a sexual predator of some sort was the worst-kept secret among the East Coast media covering the church abuse scandal.” 

Speaking about the fellow journalist whose major magazine employer killed that journalist’s story, Dreher wrote, “I do know from my extensive, detailed conversations with this journalist, as well as from my own conversations with sources in 2002, that there is a lot more on this story yet to come out — that is, if reporters and editors are interested in making sure Cardinal McCarrick has his #MeToo moment.”

Dreher questioned when the dioceses involved received the allegations about McCarrick. 

“The wording is ambiguous,” Dreher wrote. “If settlements were made, when were they made, and why did church officials not disclose to the public that their former leader screwed around?”

Dreher queried further, “Why were so many bishops willing to run cover for Ted McCarrick all these years? Why?”

'How did Cardinal McCarrick’s secret last so long?' 

Phil Lawler revealed in his Catholic Culture column Wednesday that some fifteen years ago he had sent a few close friends a confidential email advising them to “brace themselves,” because within days a major secular newspaper would break a sensational story on McCarrick. 

“To my surprise,” Lawler said, “the newspaper never ran the story – which finally came out today.”

Lawler echoed Dreher’s account of investigating McCarrick with his own, saying that several reporters had spoken with him at the time about McCarrick, but most were unable to secure anyone willing to go on record with complaints.

“I ran into the same brick wall,” he said. “While I heard multiple accusations, without a willing witness I had only hearsay evidence.” 

Recounting Dreher’s questioning why so many bishops had covered for McCarrick, Lawler asked, “Why were so many journalists willing to let the rumors go unexplored?”

He then suggested that there might be ulterior motives in play. 

“If they did explore the rumors, why were they willing to drop the story, at a time when so many other allegations were splashed across the headlines?” asked Lawler. “Could it be because, for anyone seeking to influence a cardinal, the threat of disclosure is more effective than disclosure itself?”

'Smith Jones'

Renew America's Matt Abbott reported in 2005 on a former priest of Metuchen with personal experience of McCarrick’s invitations to bed.

The account came through Father James Haley, a known whistleblower formerly of the Diocese of Arlington.

Haley has disappeared from public view, Abbott told LifeSiteNews, and what happened to him is unclear. He was a friend from seminary with the former Metuchen priest, identified in Abbott’s report by the pseudonym “Smith Jones.” 

McCarrick had seen to “Jones” being released from his celibacy vow after the priest had impregnated a divorced Catholic school teacher.

The news of “Jones’” relationship with the woman was a great shock for the diocese, Haley said, because, “he was always thought to be gay.”

“I guess the assumption of those in the hierarchy is that most good looking priests are gay (otherwise they would be married),” said Haley, “and that priests who keep their mouths shut amidst the greatest homosexual scandals, such as the fellow priest in the rectory having late night parties with teenage boys and other homosexual priests, are the ones that can be trusted with even bigger secrets.”

“Both seem to be wonderful candidates for advancement up the hierarchy,” he added.

McCarrick also paid for “Jones'” law school education at a “nice Catholic college,” said Haley, “apparently to keep him quiet about certain letters and incidents of their past.” 

This seems to have worked, according to Haley, as “Jones” had talked to him about McCarrick, but declined to speak to others about the situation.

“Jones” was one of the “victims of the good cardinal's invitations,” Haley recounted. “Perhaps a much better term is 'gay litmus tests.'” 

“Jones” had been invited to the then bishop's beach house for a seminarian gathering, but after arriving, “Jones” found himself the only seminarian in a house with only one queen-sized bed. Having been brought to the beach house under false pretense, Haley said, “Jones” was invited to stay and share the bed.

“Jones” consented to “sleeping in the same bed with the archbishop,” said Haley, but he insisted “nothing occurred.” 

“Jones'” easy compliance, lack of shock and later refusal to report the incident gave McCarrick “almost all the information he needed” about “Jones,” he said.

And “Jones” had been the recipient of almost weekly hand-written letters from McCarrick while in the seminary, said Haley, “many of them speaking of the bishop's delight in one day raising young seminarian ['Jones'] to the heights of splendor as a bishop himself.”

“I had never even met my bishop in the whole four years of my seminary studies, let alone was I being encouraged with intimate letters to episcopal splendor,” Haley remarked. “Jones” was a “regularly invited guest of the archbishop at his house for breakfast.” 

Haley told Abbott he’d later talked to other priests about McCarrick and his practices, and learned he had quite the reputation, with other reports of seminarians “going to the bishop's house under false pretense.”

“Cardinal McCarrick is one of the worst,” Haley stated. “And his 'great' and very rapid success and advancement in the hierarchy should be a concern to all good Catholics.” 

“The burning question, the most critical and important question in all of this, the one that needs to be answered in order to truly correct the problem is this,” said Haley. “How is it possible for these men to have received the status and power they now have? Are there no interviews, no evaluations, and no personnel files? Oh, there is that other big story again — the story that goes a long way to explaining the 'why' of the sexual abuse scandal.”

George Archibald, former investigative reporter for The Washington Times, covered Abbott’s report and more in the 2009 book Journalism Is War

In the book’s chapter 16, titled, “Catholic Scandal Series Snuffed,” Archibald writes, “Participants and priests told this reporter [Archibald] that McCarrick had years of bedtime enjoyment with young men and promoted many to high offices in the church….”

LifeSiteNews is continuing to follow the McCarrick story.