I have a few things to say about the Cardinal McCarrick case that Catholics should take to heart
Christ is still Christ, the Church is still the Church and the Doctrines are Still the Doctrines:
Nothing McCarrick has done changes the truth of God, Christ, scripture of the Church. In the 2000 year history of the church there have been countless number of Deacons, Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and even the occasional Pope who have not acted in accordance with the teachings of Christ and the doctrines of the church and in the future you can be sure that there will be plenty more but while the names and the times may change God and Christ and the salvation that is offered by Christ through the church endures or as Jesus told Peter, The Gates of Hell will not stand against it.”
The Numbers are still minuscule Context
the Roman Catholic Church is a huge worldwide church with over 415,348 priests, over 40,000 deacons over 5,000 Bishops and over 200 Cardinals . Given those numbers the McCarrick’s of the world might continually grab the headlines but the priests and religious by the hundreds of thousands who are tarred by him will continue their work feeding, clothing, educating, sheltering and otherwise tending to the spiritual and physical needs of the people they serve with the rest of the world taking little or no notice.
What gay scandal?
The McCarrick scandal has one thing in common with the previous scandals involving the church and minors. It is primarily a gay scandal. One of the great tricks of the media was to turn a scandal that was primarily a Gay scandal ( 78% of the abuse involved homosexual acts, men abusing boys.) into a “church” scandal with homosexuality completely ignored. For the “Catholic’s for Mortal Sin” lobby within the church this separation of Homosexuality from this scandal has been vital as they continue to attempt to redefine sin rather than combat it. It is important to call them out on it.
The “why should I bother” trap
There are several traps for souls that are an offshoot of a scandal like McCarrick’s. One is what it does to marginal Catholics or Catholics struggling with the faith. It goes like this: “Why should I bother trying to avoid sin when you have Cardinals and Bishops doing things like this? This is the devil hoping to nail you as collateral damage and is one of the worst parts of a scandal like this. The reality is McCarrick is no different that a crooked Senator or a crooked governor or a crooked Police Captain. When Rod Blagojevich was nailed for corruption did that mean that the laws of Illinois didn’t apply to the citizens there? When Richard Nixon resigned due to Watergate did this mean federal law shouldn’t apply to others? To decide you don’t have to worry about sin because of McCarrick’s sins is exactly what the Devil is looking for from you and like a man who speeds thinking he can get away with it because a cop he knows of does, is in for a rude awakening.
The Pride / Francis Trap for Conservative Churchmen
There are two more sin traps that the McCarrick case produce. The targets of these traps are the formed and conservative Catholics. The first is the sin of pride. The sins of a liberal Cardinal does not make our own sins any less dangerous, if we point to McCarrick and his enablers and talk about our own “righteousness” then we are doing the Devil’s work for him. Remember pride is the first of the deadly sins and if we use the McCarrick case to distract ourselves from our own sins and actions we are making a huge and damning mistake. Likewise it’s worth noting that McCarrick has been a Cardinal since 2000 a bishop since 1977 and a priest since 1958. It is therefore a stretch to lay all of the inaction in this case on the current Pope. This case is a cause for lamentation not a weapon to beat the Pope over the head. There is a fine line between critique of the church done in love and leading an attack on the church which is the work of the Devil. If you’re the least bit unsure of where that line is, the best thing to do is step away from it and pray.
Two different Scandals/sins:
It’s important to remember that there are two or three different sins involved with McCarrick. McCarrick and those like him are committing two sins unnatural sins of the flesh and the breaking of ecclesiastical vows. They are both scandals because he is a high churchman. Meanwhile there is the institutional sin of those around him which is different than his, but is the same sin that was common in the Church during the various scandals of the 2000’s. The sins of cowardice and pride. It is that unwillingness to confront the sins of those like McCarrick that has been the meat and potatoes of all these scandals. At best their feared the “Why should I bother trap” already mentioned at worst they feared a drop in respect and funds. Both of these are cowardice and pride. If proper ecclesiastical authorities were willing to come down on him hard right at the start then it would have been the story of an individual priest booted out and would have set a very visible example. That unwillingness to take the hit when it was small both here and in previous scandals is the church’s real sin.
The Hardest lesson of them all
Of all the things that must and should be said about McCarrick’s sexual sins and the sins of cowardice of the churchmen who refused to call him out, these is the one that people least want to hear.
McCarick’s sin and the sins of those who covered for him, like any other sins are completely paid for by the sacrifice of Christ and if sincerely confessed and with proper contrition are subject to the same absolution and forgivness that Christ offers to each and every sinner.
This can be a tough one to remember but it’s also Christianity 101. Christ didn’t just die for our little sins or our big ones, he died for everybody’s sins, especially for the REALLY big ones. If McCarrick and those around him sincerely repent, confess their sins and seek absolution Christ will give it.
Now it must be stressed that this forgiveness is of the eternal consequences of their actions. That doesn’t mean he or any of those involved are absolved of the temporal punishments either legal if laws were broken or ecclesiastical penalties such as laizication that might be applies. It simply that their eternal souls might be kept out of the grasp of the Devil and that’s a good thing because ANY soul kept out of his hands is a victory worth celebrating.
As Catholics it is our job to pray for this result, in fact we should be praying for everyone involved. It’s what we do
Or buying my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer
Either way it’s most appreciated.