Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Victim’s Slippery Slope

June 23rd, 2018, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The molestation allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick this week reverberated around the world!  The “Catholic” Church, through her sign of universality, cannot escape the widespread implications of a controversial Pope asking a Cardinal to no longer engage even in public celebration of the Mass!  The quake shook from the loftiest Vatican levels to the entrant seminarian struggling to discern his vocation, to the remnant in the pew.  And, personally, the shock and surprise extended to my own memories of a seemingly simple, friendly priest, “Father Ted,” who walked the campus of The Catholic University of America while I was there, and who was chaplain to one of the fraternities, back in the days when even a passing thought of any priestly misbehavior never rose to mind. Yet the accusations go back many decades.

Now, the headlines rage and demand answers. I’ve had second thoughts about even publishing the links to the stories; but, I do so now with a CAUTION: There are details which may appeal excessively to a prurient nature and foster further scandal. Be warned of the potential for a near occasion of sin, so it is important to read prayerfully, and with suitable detachment. To try to compensate somewhat, the links are drawn from some of the more trustworthy sources, ones which share deep concerns for the holiness of God’s people, and have shown themselves to be reliable in the past. The background from the stories is needed in order to understand the amazement that so many alleged victim participants at a seminarian level could be drawn into and maintain the web of secrecy, and to illustrate how the slippery slope becomes steeper and slipperier when no one takes action.

Vulnerable Adults?

Most of the victims are not minors (although one is a 16 year old). But they are vulnerable adults, not in the “legal” sense, but in the broadest sense of meaning. They are mostly seminarians in great fear of never being ordained, or perhaps of diminished potential for the vocation they are considering, being “vulnerable” to a bishop, who is eventually a Cardinal, who had great power to ruin their lives. And, it seems likely, that he did just that anyway. A “vulnerable adult” in the broadest, human sense, is one weak in the face of another’s power. Sometimes that power is also the father of lies.

Victim Guilt

Victim guilt is of several types. Certainly any cooperation with or participation in the acts brings guilt, as does facilitation against another victim. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can remove the guilt, but shame may still persist, even a lifetime of shame. It may lead to other related sins due to such damage.   If those seminarians did not become priests it is understandable, due to the conflicts created. But if they did become priests, at what price to themselves and to others? At what price to their service to God, Who may have called them just to heroic action against a molester, and maybe not to the vocation itself? How can one not wonder if the man who became “a priest forever” and not strong enough to call one little hierarch to account is really able to serve souls in his care? Does anyone, even half-sincere in wanting to serve God, ever forget how he has failed? To whom can he confess and try to atone in a poisoned hierarchy? And, if he doesn’t, he too is on the slippery slope. Victims may create more victims, including themselves! We might even wonder how “Father Ted” took his first step onto the slippery slope and didn’t raise up a hand to be pulled back.

Loose Analogies

Let us imagine a situation in which a man is promised a million dollars (or make it $10 million for inflation) ScreenShot545if he will stand in one place, say nothing and make no movement, for an hour.  Then suppose a long line, one person at a time, enters the area and each falls through a disguised open manhole to death or serious injury.  The first time it occurs, the viewer is astounded and confused, maybe even wonders if it is a trick, but then knows it is not. It is real! If he says nothing to the next person entering, he is already complicit. And as one person after another falls through; i.e. as the time for payout of the millions draws closer, it is harder and harder to break silence and warn the victim, as the viewer is already greatly invested not only in getting the money, the prize, but also in justifying his own past behavior.  And so the circle widens, the guilt encrusts, and the viewer himself is fundamentally changed. We can hardly say that the viewer bears no guilt. And this is the person to be ordained? To lead souls? (See ACTS 8:18-24.)

One might also reflect here on the recent #MeToo movement. Those coming forward, often with no proof, witnesses, notes, friends or family testimony, doctor or lawyer counseling services, are essentially claiming that they had to endure the ‘casting couch’ in order to succeed in their careers. While such behavior by the abuser is to be totally condemned, one might also ask whether or not such compliant behavior by the victim didn’t unjustly take work from another person, and/or further support the abusive behavior, by failure to resist or report it? In those cases, regarding adults, victims also may have some responsibility for creating additional victims through their own compliance.  How much more those principles of loving our neighbor (the competitor for our job goals) should apply when the ‘job’ is a vocation, to serve God and souls. So the echo in the distance, if we listen carefully, is saying: “Oh, Lord, I am willing to die for You!  Just please don’t ask me to speak up!” … “or give up my career aspirations!” And then, already, the vocation has become a job, a career, a failure poisoned from the onset.



Here are the links; others may be added as they become available:






7 Responses to “The Victim’s Slippery Slope”

  1. christian says:

    I think it was very grievous that Cardinal Theodore Mc Carrick was able to rise to such a high and powerful position within the Catholic Church, let alone, enter in ordained priesthood. (I am not even sure if the faithful should be addressing him as cardinal).

    In regard to the concerns of seminarians giving into coercion of lying down with Cardinal Mc Carrick in order to advance their vocation to priesthood, and why seminarians didn’t publicly and officially report Cardinal Mc Carrick for sexual misconduct:

    1. I suspect we, the faithful. lost significant good and godly men to the priesthood when they were confronted with the coercion and ultimatum posed by Cardinal Theodore Mc Carrick.

    2. Knowing what I do from experience of reporting any situation of someone higher in the ranks, or an entity of great size and force, for whatever reason, often the person in the next chain of command and even the person above them, will not accept the report as they are intimidated reporting/dealing with a person or entity who yields considerable power over them and their position. This is true in any field, organization, or branch of service. In these cases, one is discouraged from making a report, told to report it elsewhere, or to just forget about it.

    Although I have no actual knowledge of what had taken place in the seminary when seminarians where confronted with this dilemma, I can’t help but suspect there were seminarians who did try to report Cardinal Mc Carrick who was Bishop at the time, but didn’t have their reports accepted, were told to report it somewhere else, or told to forget it.

    *Apparently, there were seminarians who lodged successful complaints against Bishop Mc Carrick, but the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey kept it under wraps. I have just come across an article in the Washington Post that states the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey was aware of three decades old complaints of sexual misconduct against Mc Carrick, but states they were all adults. Richard Sipe, a former priest, stated he received complaints from seminarians about Mc Carrick in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
    There are court details in the “American Conservative” of sexual abuse of young seminarians and priests (actual sexual abuse of the unsuspecting) that are too horrific and sickening to recount. So all encounters did not involve just the voluntary lying down with McCarrick for cuddling out of coercion.

    Young men entering the seminary are in a vulnerable state due to innocence and naivety. The added vulnerability of being under a powerful man in church hierarchy who is perverted, sexual predator is a devastating situation. Yes, hopefully those who are encountered and asked to lie down with a powerful church official, or even if taken off guard and sexually abused by that church official, will have the grace and strength to object to any further dealings with that church official, and promptly report him to police and church authority, and warn others of this church official.

    Right there, the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey was negligent in taking action against Mc Carrick when his actions were not only moral sins, but crimes. It does not matter that his victims and intended victims were adults. By not seeking action against him and making his moral sins and crimes known, they allowed him to continue to climb the latter in the hierarchy of the church. Additionally, when well-respected laymen paid their own way to raise objections to the Vatican about making Mc Carrick the archbishop of Washington, D.C. due to his long history of pursuing seminarians, they were not successful. It takes a long time for things to be addressed and circulated throughout channels in the Vatican, so one wonders if the issue was addressed, or if it came too late, after Mc Carrick had already been made archbishop of Washington, D.C. Also, although that pontificate did so much good for the world, especially among peoples who had been offended and alienated from the church, developed a very strong Youth Movement, and created excellent documents on the dignity of human life, it wasn’t strong in dealing with sexual abuse in the Church.

    Mc Carrick has also been accused of covering up the sexual abuse done by priests under his watch.

    3. Aside from Cardinal Mc Carrick’s tenure involving sexual harassment and sexual abuse, he held opposing views to the Catholic Church in regard to abortion, the LBGT lifestyle, and same sex unions.

    He suppressed the letter in the spring of 2004 from then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger of the CDF “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles,” meant to instruct bishops in what situations holy communion should be denied to pro-abortion politicians and those who vote for them. …”McCarrick played down the clarity from Rome on withholding Communion from pro-abortion politicians in his own statement to the bishops.” When the letter from Ratzinger was leaked to the press weeks later, it confirmed “the disparity between Mc Carrick’s take and what the CDF had communicated.”

    “McCarrick released a statement in 2007 disagreeing with then Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis on the need to deny the sacrament to Catholic public figures that are pro-abortion.” -Life Site News

    He told CNN in 2006, that he supported same-sex unions, but later said he misspoke. -Life Site News

    Why would the Catholic Church allow someone to be or remain in that high of a position in Church Authority just on his track record of anti-Catholic views and stand?

    4. Understandably, there is shock for those who knew Mc Carrick as a friendly, smiling Fr. Ted, or Bishop Mc Carrick, or Archbishop Mc Carrick, or Cardinal Mc Carrick. Men who are involved in illicit sexual activity, whether it’s the consensual, yet immoral activity of infidelity to a wife or promiscuity, or the victimization of adults or minors, tend to compartmentalize that from their public lives, whether it be ministry, government, military, or entertainment. These men who engage in such behavior will most likely argue that what they do in their private life has no bearing on what they do in their public life.

    In conclusion: I applaud the decision of Pope Francis to remove him from public ministry. I think former Cardinal Mc Carrick should go into seclusion and start a life of prayer and penance. Although it is hard to stomach what he has done, he is still a child of God and we should pray for his soul. We should also pray for all his victims.

    Also, I heartily ask all readers to encourage, support, thank, and pray for your parish priest who practices holiness, upholds the Catholic Church and its teaching, and has true benevolent care for his parishioners.

  2. BigE says:

    “Look not on our Sins but on the Faith of your Church”

    My prayers to the victims. And as Christian pointed out, to all of those good and holy bishops and priests who are negatively impacted by this.

  3. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    We have brought shame to the Name of Christ.

    Some will leave God’s Catholic Church or never be joined publicly with her. Some Believers of different ecclesial traditions and communities of Christian faith will be confirmed in their persuasion that we are false brethren who preach a false Gospel and live ungodly wicked lives leading others to hell. Lastly and worst of all, some who have yet to believe the Gospel at all and surrender in repentance to the Lord Jesus will never ever do so because of our disfiguring the face of Christ in the Catholic Church.

    Yes, I am angry. Yes, I am sad. And yes, sinner that I am, I pray God the Holy Spirit He empower us to become the Holy People of God we are called to be.

    Enough playing Church. Enough harming those for whom the Messiah bled, died and rose again. Enough allowing those who should know better but live as though they don’t to continue pretending to teach, sanctify and govern when in fact they are wolves ravaging and destroying.

    Russell Shaw says to pray and to pray now. Yes let us pray and continue to pray. Yet is there no action to be taken? What are we called to do?

  4. christian says:

    In the article by the American Conservative, it relays the documentation that had been sent to the Vatican detailing the reports of reports of sexual misconduct of then Bishop Theodore Mc Carrick. It also relays the investigative reporting of journalists for notable pubications in the past. The article also notes that two Bishops in New Jersey were well aware of the multiple reports of sexual misconduct and sexual abuse of Mc Carrick of young seminarians and priests, but kept it secret.

  5. christian says:

    Michael Voris’ take on the Vortex:

    Former Cardinal Mc Carrick states that although he believes in his innocence, he accepts the decision by Pope Francis out of obedience. Yet, it has been reported that he is going through canonical proceedings to appeal Pope Francis’ decision.

    There is no sentence or punishment on this earth that Former Cardinal Mc Carrick could serve that could rectify his very serious sins and crimes. But Former Cardinal Mc Carrick is not able to seek a path of redemption through penance and prayer if he does face and admit his extreme wrongdoing, admit guilt, and sincerely seek repentance in the face of God.

    I sincerely hope that Former Cardinal Mc Carrick does not win his appeal!

  6. snowshoes says:

    Thank you, Diane, for probably the best analysis of the whole situation I have yet read. I need to take this to study and prayer, as a bystander, etc. As we know, there can be no bystanders in the Church, and I have often been a bystander in too many moral situations, hiding under that ever-present bushel basket.

    Carlin gives an analysis, and one solution in his article: De-homosexualizing the American Church – The Catholic Thing. It is good, but I have a simpler solution:


    If I and 30 of my closest fellow-parishioners invite Father Pastor over for dinner once a month, it will effectively fill up his time in the evenings, and cement bonds of charity, etc.

    Once, I had to tell a military chaplain that he was being watched, because of suggestive statements he had made to me and others. I asked the Sergeant Major who was the head of the post parish council if I could use his name when speaking to Father, and he agreed. The priest got a reassignment and was out of there in a month. “Hold your friends close and your enemies closer.”

    In other words, the good pastors will love the dinners with parishioners every night, and the bad ones will ship out. As our Bishop of happy memory, Abp Sheen said, it’s up to the laity now… Martyrs of Rome, pray for us.

  7. raymondfrice says:

    It is time for prayer and reform in priestly training.

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