Priest Accuses U.S. Cardinal of Abuse of Power

By Matt C. Abbott
Renew America [United States]
December 2, 2005

Whistleblower priest Father James Haley, whom I quoted at length in a previous column, is now coming forward with information that certain mainstream veteran journalists have known for some time, but have thus far been unable to "prove": Cardinal (then Bishop) Theodore McCarrick allegedly had "invited" certain seminarians to sleep in the same bed with him.

Recounts Father Haley:

"The story I know well is the story of Smith Jones [not his real name], former priest of Metuchen, now a successful lawyer, and a best friend of mine from the seminary of Mt. St. Mary's in Emmitsburg. After his sudden departure from the priesthood for impregnating a divorced Catholic school teacher in an all girls school six months after his ordination, it was McCarrick who obtained the release of Smith's vows of celibacy despite Smith's own reluctance to pursue the matter.

"It included a trip to Rome by the 'good' cardinal to arrange a speedy decision from the Vatican. (Being laicized does not allow a former priest to marry; it simply removes him from the active priesthood and the obligations — the Daily Office, for example — and the privileges: his faculties to say Mass and perform the other sacraments and, separately, his ability to preach, but it does not allow him to marry. The release of the 'vow of celibacy' is a separate process that Pope John Paul II was very reluctant, initially not willing, to grant.)

"Apparently, Smith was being strongly encouraged by several other incentives to stop attending Mass at the church were he was the former associate pastor with his now 'married' (in a Presbyterian ceremony by a former priest minister) wife who was the teacher of many of the girls in the parish. The amazing part of the story, however, is this: The news of Smith's relationship with a woman was the great shock for the diocese. He was always thought to be gay. As was Father Verrecchia. As was [name deleted].

"I guess the assumption of those in the hierarchy is that most good looking priests are gay (otherwise they would be married), and that priests who keep their mouths shut amidst the greatest homosexual scandals, such as the fellow priest in the rectory having late night parties with teenage boys and other homosexual priests, are the ones that can be trusted with even bigger secrets. Both seem to be wonderful candidates for advancement up the hierarchy.

The 'good' cardinal also paid for Smith's law school education at a nice Catholic college, apparently to keep him quiet about certain letters and incidents of their past. And it seems to have worked. Although Smith has talked to me, he refused to speak to others about the matter.

"Smith was one of the victims of the good cardinal's invitations — perhaps a much better term: gay litmus tests. Smith had been invited to the then bishop's beach house for a seminarian get-together. After arriving, however, Smith found himself the only seminarian present in a house with only one queen sized bed. Brought there under such false pretense, he was invited to stay and share the bed.

"Smith consented to sleeping in the same bed with the archbishop. He said, 'nothing occurred.' He never listened, however, to my argument that much had actually occurred by his easy compliance, by his lack of shock, and by his later refusal to report the incident. McCarrick, on the other hand, had almost all the information he needed about Smith.

"Smith had been the recipient of almost weekly hand-written letters sent to him by McCarrick in the seminary, many of them speaking of the bishop's delight in one day raising young seminarian Smith to the heights of splendor as a bishop himself. I always thought the letters were amazing, since I had never even met my bishop in the whole four years of my seminary studies, let alone was I being encouraged with intimate letters to episcopal splendor.

"Smith was a regularly invited guest of the archbishop at his house for breakfast. 'The door is always open to you.'

"I later talked to other priests about McCarrick and his practices. Apparently he has quit the reputation. Two other priests talked about the 'going to the bishop's house under false pretense' episodes and surprisingly gave me the names of two other 'victims' — both seminarians, now priests. These priests, incidentally, had never heard of Smith.

"Cardinal McCarrick is one of the worst. And his 'great' and very rapid success and advancement in the hierarchy should be a concern to all good Catholics. The burning question, the most critical and important question in all of this, the one that needs to be answered in order to truly correct the problem is this: How is it possible for these men to have received the status and power they now have? Are there no interviews, no evaluations, and no personnel files? Oh, there is that other big story again — the story that goes a long way to explaining the 'why' of the sexual abuse scandal."

When I asked Father Haley if he thought the seminarians had been coerced into the sleeping situation, and what, if any, consequences they would face had they rejected the "invitation," he responded as follows:

"Coerce: To force to act or think in a certain way by use of pressure, threats, or intimidation; compel.

"I think if I was a seminarian with so much invested in my future and were alone with my bishop in the situation I described, there would certainly be many frantic thoughts: Is this really happening, or is this just my imagination? Am I making too much of this? Perhaps I don't have the facts right. Is this just an honest mistake? Do I really believe that my bishop wants something more? What are the consequences if I don't respond to him? What if I do?

"And to be put into that kind of a stressful, almost surreal situation by a person of obvious authority and supposed morality, who has so much control over my future, seems to me to be coercive. Even if it were some sort of a perverse 'test' to discover if a seminarian was homosexually inclined (or had 'tendencies') and used by the bishop for the purpose of weeding out homosexual men from the priesthood, it would be an absolutely absurd practice.

"And if it was just the simple invitation of my bishop to meet so we could 'get to know one another a little better,' it would be totally inappropriate for a bishop to do so given the place and the circumstances.

"What if a seminarian objected to the whole subterfuge? Well, as you know, a homosexual orientation, or at the least a completely silent tolerance of homosexuality within the priesthood, was a fairly common requirement for a priest. I don't think things will suddenly change just because of this [new Vatican document]. In fact, it may only increase the fears and the persecution of anyone who would dare criticize an already ordained priest or bishop just because he is homosexual and living with other men.

"They would be condemned as those infamous 'witch hunters' that in no way can be tolerated. It is one of the most tragic effects of this long rebellion against clear Christian teaching and Vatican authority that, even now with this 'instruction' from the Vatican, a heterosexual seminarian must be prepared to live with, and again completely tolerate in absolute silence, the homosexual priests who have already been ordained and who will most likely be his pastors, chancellors, vicar generals and maybe even his bishop."

According to one journalist, the Archdiocese of Washington has denied the allegations.

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic journalist and commentator. He is a columnist for and/or contributor to,,,,, and He can be reached at


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