Sept. 8, 2019
By Don Follis
In late July, I was just an hour from Hoxie, Kansas, (where I was born and spent my first 10 years) when I passed the exit on Interstate 70 for Victoria, Kan., home of “The Cathedral on the Plains.” For miles you can see the twin 141-foot limestone towers of the St. Fidelis Catholic Church.
The church and school dominate the town of 1,200 distinctly German and overwhelmingly catholic residents. St. Fidelis is the only church in Victoria. German immigrants moved to the area in the late 1800s. St. Fidelis was dedicated in 1911. The building features seating for 1,100, 44-foot ceilings and a 220-foot nave.
St. Fidelis is pretty much in the middle of nowhere out on the vast High Plains, and that’s how Victoria, Kan., and the church, came to be in the national news a year ago. As Ruth Graham writes in the Sept. 3 Slate magazine, “Last fall, God brought to Victoria an unexpected visitor: Theodore McCarrick, once the most powerful Catholic priests in America.” He was the archbishop of Washington D.C. from 2001-06. He was the priest “Meet the Press” relied on to talk about the abuse crisis. At the funerals of Ted Kennedy, Beau Biden, Tim Russert and William Rehnquist, McCarrick participated.
Just over a year ago, the jet-setting priest suddenly became the country’s most well-known accused perpetrator of clerical sexual abuse. The Vatican quickly removed McCarrick from public ministry, and McCarrick resigned his position as a cardinal, the first cardinal to ever resign over sexual-abuse allegations.
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