ON A PERSONAL NOTE/ By Maramis
The sexual abuse secrets of the Catholic Church
I don’t really know if there can be such a thing as the worst crime one can commit, according to those in the crime business — or for that matter, the worst sin one can commit, according to those in the sin business.
When it comes to the business of crime, there are many crimes that are equal in the eyes of the law regarding the punishment attached to them, even if those on the receiving end of such crimes might definitely feel that what was done to them was a lot worse than what was done to others.
Yet when it comes to the business of sin, it’s a whole different story. There are at least two sides to how to view every sin — the obvious side to how it looks to those doing the looking, and the intention. If that were true for the business of crime, our prisons would not be nearly as overcrowded as they are today. While courts and juries judge crimes, God is the one who judges sin.
And the good thing about that is — unlike what goes on in a courtroom or is debated amongst the jurors — God is unbiased and always knows the truth.
While even those who claim to be good so-called Christians still commit sin — and are told that such is the case — how much more might a non-believer fall into that state. And while the meaning of sin can be debated (more or less), we can probably agree that to those in the sin business it means something along the lines of doing something that would go against what Jesus taught. That includes not doing something that should have been done.
But back to Jeffry Epstein and Cardinal McCarrick. If one had to categorize them with either a crime they had committed, or a sin, you needn’t be concerned about which to choose — what they each did fell into both categories: the crimes and sins of sexual abuse.
If you do not know who Cardinal McCarrick is, he has been a rather famous cardinal who was finally defrocked. Here is a brief excerpt from Slate, found online, written by Ruth Graham.
“In the summer of 2018, McCarrick also suddenly became the country’s most well-known accused perpetrator of clerical sexual abuse. In June of that year, the Vatican abruptly removed him from public ministry, citing a credible accusation of sexual misconduct against a teenage altar boy in the 1970s. (The statute of limitations for the crime he is accused of had expired.) McCarrick resigned as a cardinal, the
first in history to do so over allegations of sexual abuse. Meanwhile, it emerged that some in the church hierarchy had known for decades about some of the accusations, that at least two accusations had resulted in settlements, and that rumors about him were widespread in Catholic circles. When McCarrick was ousted from public ministry in June of 2018, he issued a statement saying he was innocent of the first accusation.”
The accusations against McCarrick go back to the ‘60s and to an 11-year-old boy being measured, by McCarrick, for his first cassock to wear as altar boy, for assisting at mass. From that time forward, there seemed to be a never-ending stream of young men, seminarians, who passed his way and got entangled in his web of sexual sin.
When McCarrick was a bishop, he owned a small beach house in Sea Girt, New Jersey, comparable in some ways to Epstein’s island where he took the young girls. Because of what went on at the island it was dubbed the “Island of Sin,” along with other names that indicated what went on there. It didn’t take long for his beach house to gain a similar kind of reputation in regard to seminarians; accusers said he would invite small groups of seminarians there and instruct his favorites to share his bed.
Catholic sexual scandals are not new and, unfortunately, not rare. While the Church up to now has always tried to cover up the disgraceful behavior of such clerics, McCarrick’s disgrace was major, being the highest ranking cleric to ever be accused of such allegations in recent times.
As an old man of 89 now, he may well have forgotten a lot of the things he did that were crimes before the statute of limitations ran out on them, but will still always be sins, since there is no time limit on them. Even though he has officially left his position in the Catholic Church, having been defrocked with no appeal, he still needs a place to live out his life. His reputation in this scandal made it unlikely that staying in the Washington D.C. area, his last assignment, was wise, to put it mildly. Everyone knew him: Catholics, activists, big name journalists, and others. He could not hide. There would be protests. He would have no peace. But those in a position to do so needed to see that there would be no violence because of what he did, as well as being sure that he would not have access to anyone that he might still abuse. Therefore, he has been moved to a small friary in Victoria, Kansas.
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that the defrocked and disgraced former Cardinal McCarrick, suddenly thrust into this tiny town of Catholic believers, created unrest and even fear among them.
While McCarrick once mingled with popes and presidents and many well-known celebrities, he now lives alone in necessary silence in his
new surroundings, far away from where he committed any of his alleged crimes.
It wasn’t easy to find a place that would accept him (imagine trying to find a place that would accept Epstein, if he was to be on house arrest for the rest of his life if he hadn’t committed suicide, as we’re told), so there wasn’t much time to prepare the town for his coming. Father Christopher Popravak, who at the time of McCarrick’s arrival served as provincial minister for the Capuchins’ Denver Archdiocese, which operates the friary which would be his home, stated he prays for the sexual victims of all clerics every day. He did not accept McCarrick because he was partial to him in any way, but because showing mercy is a major part of being Christian and a Capuchin, which
he is. Pope Francis had sentenced McCarrick to a “life of prayer and penance,” and this bare-bones friary in rural Kansas seemed to Popravak an appropriate place for him to do that.
Today, Wednesday, by the time you will be reading this, I will already have been on a Virtual Press Conference with the law firm that has been prosecuting such sexual abuse cases of the clergy, Jeff Anderson and Associates. The subject of the conference will be: New Lawsuit Exposes Cardinal McCarrick’s Beach House Child Sex Ring Lawsuit Names Cardinal McCarrick and 5 Others as Child Molesters.
If you wonder why I’m interested in such things, that’s easy enough to tell you. First, it is taking place in Newark, NJ, my original hometown, where I was born; next, I used to be Catholic; and lastly, I knew a priest who was on the dark side of his faith.
Let’s hope and pray that this old man in the twilight of his life is able to repent, to apologize, and to genuinely accept God’s mercy. After all, it is not our Father’s desire that even one soul should perish.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.