OPINION: The Catholic Church is a cesspool

The Week

July 23, 2018

By Matthew Walther

More than a decade and a half after the septic holding tank was overturned in Boston, the unfathomable noxious waste of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in this country is still seeping out in fetid drips.

As a Catholic, I believe that the Church was founded by the apostle St. Peter at the behest of Christ Himself. I also believe that it was for many years and will for many more still remain a cesspool.

A month ago, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., was removed from public ministry after credible allegations were made that he had abused a 16-year-old altar boy in 1971. Almost immediately after the announcement was made, it was revealed that at least two settlements had been made with victims — both of them adults at the time of the assaults — of McCarrick in the last decade. Now The New York Times reports that McCarrick began molesting a boy identified only as “James” when the latter was 11. This was a boy whom the future cardinal had himself baptized only two weeks after his ordination to the sacrificing priesthood. The abuse continued for 20 years. McCarrick allegedly referred to James as his “special boy” and insisted that the child and his siblings call him “Uncle Ted.” When James tried to tell his parents about the things his “uncle” forced him to do, he was told that he must be lying. (Through a spokesperson, McCarrick declined to respond to the Times’ request for comment. He has said elsewhere that he is cooperating with the Church’s investigation of the allegations.)

James was not the only one of Uncle Ted’s nephews. For decades it appears that McCarrick forced seminarians in his diocese to spend weekends with him at a beach house, where they were made to share his bed. There they were asked to rub his shoulders and to sit quietly while he groped their genitals. According to one file shared with the Times, McCarrick requested that a seminarian put on a striped sailor suit and a pair of shorts before joining him in bed. It was made clear to all of his victims that saying nothing was a necessary condition of their flourishing in his diocese and the wider Church.

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