By Judie Brown
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s lewd behavior has finally been exposed and he is disgraced. For some that news has prompted even more allegations and suspicions about bishops and their philandering ways. In fact, one reporter wrote that he had known about the McCarrick problem since 2002 and could not believe it took so long for the information to be made public.
It is a sad day for the Church in many ways.
Fundamentally, the problem with the McCarrick sexual abuse scandal is that the issue goes much deeper and affects every single one of us who embraces our Catholic faith—and even those who do not. This is actually a cultural problem; it is promiscuity run amok!
Fort Worth bishop Michael F. Olson wrote in a letter to the faithful about McCarrick: “Justice also requires that all of those in Church leadership who knew of the former Cardinal’s alleged crimes and sexual misconduct and did nothing be held accountable for their refusal to act thereby enabling others to be hurt.”
Yes, that is exactly what should happen next, but will it? We question whether anyone else will be held accountable, or, for that matter, if we will ever know the full truth.
Change our culture
Recently, Albany bishop Edward Scharfenberger addressed the root of the problem, which he accurately defined as a “spiritual crisis.” Tying it beautifully to the warnings of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, Scharfenberger tells his priests, seminarians, and religious educators: “All of us who are ordained to preach what the Church teaches must practice what we preach and teach. We also need to uphold what our faith proclaims about the gift and beauty of human sexuality, fully lived in its essential conjugal meaning. A culture of virtue and chastity—in short, personal holiness—rooted in a trusting and committed relationship with Jesus Christ is the path toward healing and wholeness, even as we seek to drive the evil behaviors among us from the womb of the Church.”
Amen, Your Excellency. The solution for the Church AND the culture resides in those profound words. The message of this shepherd reminds us that even in times as dark as these, there is healing and wholeness in Christ.
When Father Jay Scott Newman delivered a homily on this topic recently, he explained to his parish family that there were things they could do to help heal the Church, including these five activities, with which we fully agree:
Read Humanae Vitae and change your life so that you are living its teachings.
Study Part III of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for it provides training in virtue.
Attend Mass at least once a week.
Go to confession frequently (he suggests once a month).
Pray for people who “stumble and fall,” including Cardinal McCarrick.
In other words, rather than cursing the darkness, wake up and see that the problem has solutions and that we possess the ability to make the changes needed to restore what is broken—or at least give it a shot!
Whether it’s McCarrick’s scandal or some other problem created by our sexually permissive society, I love what Msgr. Charles Pope wrote many months ago. Pope pinpointed the crux of the sexual abuse scandal as having a direct relationship to our cultural immunity to the teachings of Humanae Vitae. He chose these words spoken by Christ, which today should give us all pause to ponder:
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But time will prove where wisdom lies” (Matthew 11:16-19).
Indeed, time will prove where wisdom lies, and we have it before us constantly.
McCarrick’s corrupt behavior appeases the devil; living as Christ has called us to live drives the devil mad.
It is time for each of us to choose.