To B16: Is Cardinal McCarrick a Sexual Abuser Like Father Marcial Maciel?

I received the following open letter to Pope Benedict XVI by email from A.W. Richard Sipe on 4.14.2008.

A. W. Richard Sipe is currently devoted full time to research into the sexual and celibate practices of Roman Catholic bishops and priests. That path now leads him to the study of the sexual teaching of the church and its effects on behavior—especially sexual abuse of minors by clergy—and the tangle of sexual problems that some people claim are blocking every religious agenda and destroying beyond repair the credibility of the Catholic Church in sexual matters. He has spent his life searching for the origins, meanings, and dynamics of religious celibacy. His six books including his now classic A Secret World and Celibacy in Crisis explore various aspects of the questions about the pattern and practice of religious celibacy. He spent 18 years serving the Church as a Benedictine monk and Catholic priest. In those capacities he was trained to deal with the mental health problems of priests. He has been married for 35 years and has one son. Both as a priest and married man he has practiced psychotherapy, taught on the faculties of Major Catholic Seminaries and colleges, lectured in medical schools, and served as a consultant and expert witness in both civil and criminal cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests. Sipe lives with his wife in La Jolla, CA.

He is the co-author, with Thomas P. Doyle and Patrick J. Wall of Sex, Priests & Secret Codes: the Catholic Church’s 2000 year paper trail of sexual abuse.

Sipe’s website is http://www.richardsipe.com/.

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Your Holiness, I, Richard Sipe, approach you reluctantly to speak about the problem of sexual abuse by priests and bishops in the United States, but I am encouraged and prompted by the directive of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, Chapter IV, No. 37. “By reason of knowledge, competence…the laity are empowered—indeed sometimes obliged—to manifest their opinion on those things that pertain to the good of the Church.”

As the crisis of sexual abuse of our children and vulnerable adults by priests and bishops in the United States is unfolding the dynamics of this dysfunction are becoming painfully clear.

This sexual aberration is not generated from the bottom up—that is only from unsuitable candidates—but from the top down—that is from the sexual behaviors of superiors, even bishops and cardinals.

The problem facing us in the American church is systemic. I will present Your Holiness with only a few examples:

Bishop Thomas Lyons, now deceased, who was an Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. groomed, seduced, and sexually abused a boy from the time he was seven years old until he was seventeen. When that boy grew into manhood he in turn abused his own child and young relatives. When I asked him about his actions he said to me, “I thought it was natural. Father (Lyons) told me a priest showed him this when he was growing up.” A pattern was perpetuated for at least four generations.

Abbot John Eidenschink of St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota sexually abused some of his young monks during confession and spiritual direction. He admitted this behavior in regard to two of the monks I interviewed. They described the behavior in disturbingly graphic detail. Older monks that I interviewed told me that they knew that John’s Novice Master was inappropriately affectionate with him during his two years as a novice. More than a dozen of the monks of this monastery have been credibly accused of abuse of minors while Abbot Eidenschink was promoted to President of his Monastic Congregation, the American Cassinese.

While I was Adjunct Professor at a Pontifical Seminary, St. Mary’s Baltimore (1972-1984) a number of seminarians came to me with concerns about the behavior of Theodore E. McCarrick then bishop of Metuchen New Jersey. It has been widely known for several decades that Bishop/Archbishop now Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick took seminarians and young priests to a shore home in New Jersey, sites in New York, and other places and slept with some of them. He established a coterie of young seminarians and priests that he encouraged to call him “Uncle Ted.” I have his correspondence where he referred to these men as being “cousins” with each other.

Catholic journalist Matt Abbot already published on February 6, 2006 reports of two priests who provided first hand witness regarding this behavior of Theodore McCarrick.

I do know the names of at least four priests who have had sexual encounters with Cardinal McCarrick. I have documents and letters that record the first hand testimony and eye witness accounts of McCarrick, then archbishop of Newark, New Jersey actually having sex with a priest, and at other times subjecting a priest to unwanted sexual advances.

Such behavior fosters confusion and makes celibacy problematic for seminarians and priests. This abuse paves the way for them to pass the tradition on—to have sex with each other and even with minors.

The pattern and practice of priests in positions of responsibility for the training of men for the priesthood—rectors, confessors, spiritual directors, novice masters, and other clergy—who have sexual relations with seminarians and other priests is rampant in the Catholic Church in the United States. I have reviewed hundreds of documents that record just such behavior and interviewed scores of priests who have suffered from this activity. Priests, sexually active in the above manner are frequently appointed by the Vatican to be ordained bishops or even created cardinals.

I approach Your Holiness with all due reverence, but with the same intensity that motivated Peter Damian to lay out before your predecessor, Pope Leo IX, a description of the condition of the clergy during his time. The problems he spoke of are similar and as great now in the United States as they were then in Rome. If Your Holiness requests I will submit to you personally documentation of that about which I have spoken.

Your Holiness, I submit this to you with urgent concern for our Church, especially the young and our clergy.

Richard Sipe
La Jolla, California
April 18, 2008

    12 Responses to “To B16: Is Cardinal McCarrick a Sexual Abuser Like Father Marcial Maciel?”

  1. rosemary e. miranda Says:

    i’m not calling anyone a liar but this one i would have to see to believe. i’ve always liked cardinal mccarrick; when i was deeply troubled i would call over the maryland office/rectory or whatever you call their home and talk to the secretary and priests about this same stuff and they would always give me advice and help. i have a hard time believing cardinal mccarrick had affairs. indeed their are pedophiles in the church but sometimes people have hidden agendas and not everyone is honest. just like their are bad players in the church; likewise, their are vengeful and hateful laypeople in our society who just love to get back. i pray it isn’t true. i used to tell people that the archdiocese lof washington was one of the better ones but now bishop weurl is down here and is head of the archdiocese of washington and i guess he will be made cardinal one day. him i don’t like or respect. i know what he did in pittsburgh before he came to d.c. what a mess! i sure hope mccarrick isn’t a reflectiopn of wuerl.

  2. John Wirtz Says:

    I cannot believe A. W. Richard Sipe would say anything but the truth. If you think about it – if 3% of the priests abused children ( or 10% or whatever percentage it turns out to be of priests who abuse ) then about the same percent of bishops – cardinals abused children simply by the fact they came from the ranks of the priests.


  3. Douglas Heyn Says:

    One may doubt the veracity of Richard Sipe’s charges but I doubt he would allow himself to be charged with slander if he didn’t have proof.

    Doug Heyn

  4. M. Kostouros Says:

    I certainly believe it. There is abuse because of the secrecy involved. .Why is it that the victims are often regarded as suspect? It does not enhance their lives in coming out with their stories. It is also my belief that Richard Sipe reports facts. I have been following his website for some time.

  5. M. W. Ryan Says:

    I’m not the least bit surprised to learn of McCarrick’s deviant past. As Richard Sype noted, sexual abuse and perversion made their way into the fabric of the Church centuries ago. The longer it remained, the more difficult it became for the hierarchy to confront it and root it out. It was only a matter of time before those in a position to initiate corrective measures were themselves compromised and corrupted, and had no motivation or desire to do what, to this day, begs to be done: purge the clergy of its many perverts and sexual predators.

    This willingness on the part of the hierarchy to accept widespread corruption is not limited to sexual deviance. To this day, the hierarchy has also been quite content to have Sunday collection funds covertly plundered by clergy and well-positioned lay persons alike. It’s been going on ever since John (12.6) identified Judas as one who helped himself from the disciples money bag. Like the sexual corruption, an unknown but (I’m confident) significant number of those in a position to initiate desperately needed corrective measures once profited from the Sunday collection’s extreme vulnerability and are not about to turn the spigot off.

    The Church’s downward spiral continues despite the hierarchy’s (no doubt) fervent wishes to the contrary. As a group, they lack the will and intestinal fortitude (guts) to do what needs to be done.

  6. Tom Nymberg Says:

    Richard Sipe has counseled priests for decades, both as a priest himself and as a lay professional.
    As a result, he has extraordinary access into the private lives of clerics. His credentials, professionalism and credibility are solid. He should be commended for his courage. He makes himself vulnerable
    to attack in the name of the truth. We all benefit from his courage and insight. The question is,
    what will we do with his gift?

  7. Eva R. Weber Says:

    Mr. Sipe is sticking his neck out for going public, knowing full well the strong possibility of a law suit. But contacting the Vatican will do no good, as it has been ignored since time beginning. They cannot ignore it so easily if it is this public. We have to acknowledge that most clery in our church have been abused as children, and many are abusers themselves, perpetuating a rotten cycle. Hiding behind pious naivity will not remedy anytning. At the present, the Catholic Church is THE SCANdAL for the world to see. By our pabtisms we are all called to stop the horrific damage.

    E.R. W.

  8. Gabe Says:

    I have met Richard Sipe, and I say this only because once you have met the man, you would know the sincerity and the integrity that is in his very being. He has been privy to some truly heinous stories and knows more than anyone else the depth and breadth of the crimes of sexual abuse by priests. He would have no reason to print any of this if he did not have proof, and he does it because he has seen the effects that the victims/survivors have to live with every day of their lives. The pope has spoken some pretty words while here in the States, but he has given us no concrete plan to do away with sexual predation among priests, religious, bishops and cardinals. Meeting with a handful of clergy sexual abuse victims was a wonderful media ploy, but it is not even a baby step towards some real action that the hierarchy needs to take. Why not meet with the victims/survivors in a large gathering, like he did with the priests and religious at St. Patrick Cathedral? The pope needs to hear more logical, factual information like Richard Sipe has given him. He needs to TRULY listen to the heartbreak and the horror that have invaded the lives of clergy sexual abuse victims. He needs to promise to DO something about it, not just meet and greet.

  9. KEE Says:

    This is at least one of the reason that the Church is going backward in time to try to instill the secrecy and closeness of the hierarchy with little knowledge of what is going on in the Church by the laity. It is only by returning to these policies before Vatican II that they can close off inspection by others outside the Church, avoiding any scrutiny about the behavior of the Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals in the past and another huge scandal, and perhaps even an end to the Catholic Church in the USA. If the truth of all the homosexual activity and pederasty (please don’t call it sex and pedophilia, these term are NOT correct), were known, it would cause such an adverse reaction and negative publicity that current Catholics would further leave the Church. Yes, I am a former Catholic, recently leaving because I cannot live with the conservative changes imposed from the top down. The reasons are obvious, secrecy to protect the hierarchy.

  10. Shelley Says:

    It saddens me immensely to read about the priests and male religious in the Catholic Faith especially about Cardinal McCarrick. I thought the problem had greatly decreased since the 1990’s. His homilies were magnificent. I even remember him asking me while leaving his mass if I would give my sons to the Church to which I replied that I am doing everything possible and it was in God’s hands. I have sent them to very good Catholic colleges, one is in Washington. This news is devastating and I would not want to tell my people for fear of the reactions and disillusionment they would have to the ‘whole’ Catholic faith. I now tell people who left the church that it was not the church who failed the people but other people. That the Church is not the people who run it but it is the souls of all the Catholics.
    It is to the highest extent of coincidence that last night I started reading a book about the third secret of Fatima. It is titled ‘The Secret Still Hidden’. The author writes that the third secret was not totally told except by strong hints by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Fatima in May 13, 2000 when he went there for Jacinta’s and Francisco’s beatification. His suggestions of the secret was the ruination of the Church within. The Blessed Mother wanted this information to be made public in 1960. Both Pope John XIII and Pope Paul VI kept it hidden. It has been over ninety years since Fatima and something must be done to stop this. Apparently, it seems that no one with the authority of the Faith cares deeply enough to put a strong end to this. When I talk to people about this, the first thing they ask me is where did I get such information. You would think that this information would be said during Mass so people would become aware of what the Blessed Mother said but it is not.
    You can not just send the priests away who did these horrible injuries to others. A lot of souls have been left abandoned due to the inconsideration of the religious officials within the church walls in realizing the damage that has been caused by keeping this type of sin hidden. Cardinal McCarrick needs to address this concern of his weakness by admitting what had happened and then try and fix all the damage that he caused to all the souls that believed in him and the ones he has hurt. If he is a true leader of the Catholic faith then let him develop something to change the way the church is operating.

  11. special needs mom Says:

    Shelley, I thank you so very much for your thoughtful posting. I am also very grateful to this site.

    Our family moved to MA and the Boston Archdiocese from another area of the country 2 years ago. Our once-strong Catholic faith is in now in tatters. It is out of the scope of this posting to say what happened to us here, but I can tell you that the Church remains a “purple mafia” here. Many of those involved with Law and his cover-up and shuffling around of pedophile and sexually abusive priests remain in positions of power and authority. Our local pastor (who I only found out about through research on the Web after he did something cruel to my disabled son), was complicit in the scandal, deposed, cited in the legal case’s documents on some of the most noted and horrific cases.

    I can’t go to Mass at this time and I do not know what I am going to do. The Church was who I am. I was a Daily Mass goer. And now?

    Cardinal O’Malley asked the faithful here when he arrived in Boston to help him “rebuild the Church”. But all he is doing, I am so very heartbroken to say, is applying some whitewash to rotten wood. There is no rebuilding going on here and I am shocked and broken because I believed in the courage and righteousness of “the good priests” and the Truth that is, or was, (or never was?) my Church.

  12. Thomas Says:

    When there is no place to go…when you run out of the sources of goodness in the church to trust, go to God Himself! Seek out a quiet shrine, church, monastery and go there to pray and be alone with God. Before there were sacraments…there was only prayer and this is what our relationship is all about—prayer. Just thinking about all of this willful lying and corruption can break hearts and strain one’s faith. Surround yourself with Light from the God above your head, and the darkness will never hurt you.

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