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Altar at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood, Calif. comunidadlb.org
Phil Lawler

Opinion,

The homosexual scandal in the Church is worse than anyone wants to admit

Phil Lawler

July 10, 2018 (CatholicCulture.org) – The news that Cardinal McCarrick has been credibly accused of molesting a young man – and the subsequent revelations that "everybody knew" about the cardinal's homosexual activities – have raised new and important questions about the silence of other American bishops. What did they know, and when did they know it? How did the cardinal advance through the ecclesiastical ranks, even after complaints had been received in the dioceses where he served?

These are not new questions. In fact our sometime contributor Diogenes asked them – and pointed to the obvious answer – in a post that appeared on this site over 13 years ago. His argument was powerful in 2005, and although some of his references will now seem dated, nothing that has happened in the intervening years affects the essential force of that argument.

Herewith the thoughts of Diogenes, from June 16, 2005:

The Washington Times reports that "the U.S. Catholic bishops will sidestep the issue of whether gay men should become priests at their semiannual meeting," which began today at the Chicago Fairmont.

And why, boys and girls, was it a foregone conclusion that the bishops would "sidestep" the issue? Because the question of whether gays should be ordained cannot be addressed without first addressing a considerably more explosive question: the number of bishop-disputants who are themselves gay and have a profound personal interest that there be no public examination of the connections between their sexual appetites, their convictions, and their conduct of office.

Let's do a little stock-taking of those U.S. bishops who are publicly known to be gay:

  • Retired Bishop Dan Ryan of Springfield, IL. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? Through the offices of the civil justice system.
  • Retired Bishop Tom Dupre of Springfield, MA. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? Through the offices of the civil justice system.
  • Retired Bishop Patrick Ziemann of Santa Rosa, CA. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? Through the offices of the civil justice system.
  • Retired Bishop Kendrick Williams of Lexington, KY. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? Through the offices of the civil justice system.
  • Retired Bishop Keith Symons of Palm Beach, FL. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? Through the offices of the civil justice system.
  • Retired Bishop Lawrence Soens of Sioux City, IA. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? Through the offices of the civil justice system.
  • Retired Bishop Joseph Hart of Cheyenne, WY. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? Through the offices of the civil justice system.
  • Retired Bishop Anthony O'Connell of Palm Beach, FL. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? Through the offices of the civil justice system.
  • Non-Retired Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, FL. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? The papers reported his $100,000 sexual harassment pay-off to his communications flack.
  • Retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, WI. Did he tell us he was gay? No. Did his brother bishops tell us he was gay? No. Then how did we find out? His lover broke the news on Good Morning America.

Nota bene: this isn't a roster of gay bishops. This isn't even a roster of gay bishops who have misbehaved. This is list of only those gay bishops whose misbehavior has gotten them in trouble with the law – and that so deeply that their proclivities were objectively undeniable. What percentage of the total of gay bishops do they represent? I don't know and you don't know. And about the only things we do know are:

  1. the bishops won't be up front with us about names or numbers;
  2. their clandestine gay brethren are voting, caucusing, doing committee work, legislating, cutting deals, and deciding (among other things) whether gays should be admitted to the seminaries;
  3. all bishops, gay and not, will maintain in public that there is no reason to believe a gay bishop would use his vote – on this or any issue – in any way other than to advance the good of the universal Church. The abuse scandal has already cost the U.S. Church $1 billion, as well as immeasurable spiritual harms, predicated on the grotesquely perverse intuition that personal sexual anarchy can co-exist in a truce with priestly life. The fact that the obvious reckoning can still be "sidestepped" tells us all we need to know about the episcopal will for reform.

Say hello to the future, folks.

That was the prediction of Diogenes in 2005. To be fair, the long-overdue exposure of Cardinal McCarrick was not brought about by the civil-justice system. It was the result of an investigation by a review board, acting on authorization from the Holy See. But neither was it disclosed by the bishops of those dioceses that had previously received complaints. So after all these years, you might count this story as a small, hesitant, partial step forward toward a goal that should have been obvious to everyone fifteen years ago: holding bishops accountable.

Since the sex-abuse scandal exploded, our bishops have frequently spoken about the need to re-establish trust. But they still haven't given us reason to trust them.

Published with permission from CatholicCulture.org.

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