Your Eminence, you’re the archbishop of Shark City.

What’s coming up in August? The World Meeting of Families, of course. I saw an upbeat note about it on Twitter. August also brings Cardinal Wuerl’s latest “pastoral reflection” in which he responds to the latest agony of the Church as more layers of betrayal are uncovered. In the letter he explains the “documents” and “procedures” and “clearly articulated measures” and the “commitment [which] may serve as the nucleus of a more effective mechanism to ensure greater accountability among ourselves.”

You got a pen, your eminence?

Because right now, you’re the archbishop of Shark City, and people think you want the beaches open.

God have mercy.  As if what we need is yet another wretched document, another craven press release. The “effective mechanism” was described two thousand years ago, and it involves a millstone and a neck. You can’t just tell us you feel bad, and you can’t just demote the doddering old pervert McCarrick, wave vaguely in the direction of the sexual revolution, and consider your job done. Not while the sea is still full of sharks and you’re still hoping to cash in on August.

You can’t do this to us anymore. I want to hear the bishops acknowledging that we are their children, and they betrayed us. Priests are their children, and they betrayed them. Seminarians are their children, and they betrayed them. All in the name of saving August, in the name of money and prestige, in the name of acting in the Church’s best interest, so many of our bishops have betrayed us, and so many of them still won’t listen. They’re still trying to save face, still planning to keep the farce going.

I want to see bishops — many bishops — writing a pastoral letter that says, “Yes, I knew what McCarrick was doing. Yes, I knew what the seminaries were like. Yes, I got letters from whistleblowers. I didn’t do anything. I helped keep it quiet. I persuaded myself it was in the Church’s best interest to pretend these horrors weren’t happening, even though it was my job to protect and defend my flock. Please pray for me, because I betrayed Christ, I betrayed my office, and I betrayed you all, and so I resign.

There is no document that will be just as good. There is no one you can hire to take care of this problem, no check you can sign to make this problem go away. Go ahead and have the World Meeting of Families. Go ahead and keep the food pantries and the schools and the hospitals going. Go ahead and draft more reforms and form more committees. For God’s sake, go ahead and keep giving us the sacraments. But rend your garments. Rend your garments. If this was the work of your hands, then you must step down. If you betrayed us, you must step down.

Summer is over. To every bishop, I say: Your eminence, your kids were on that beach, too.


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By Ewen Roberts from California (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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20 thoughts on “Your Eminence, you’re the archbishop of Shark City.”

  1. We must not overlook the seminaries. When the seminary rector or faculty are abusive toward seminarians or where sinful behavior is encouraged, no crime is committed because they are adults, but the seminaries are in some cases providing “formation” that leads to development of men who do the things that were in the grand jury report. Seminary faculty were not named because – no crime. But they trained the men who did the crimes and covered up the crimes. There have been stories about the seminaries posted on the internet this past week, and at other times. But – nothing has changed, yet. There needs to be a lay led investigation of the seminaries which I think is the source of a lot of the problem. Certainly bishops have failed, and anyone who allowed these things should not be a bishop, and should be in prison, if they have committed any crime. But – I think the seminaries have to be looked at, because it is a source of this problem. A previous Vatican investigation was useless because there are many in the Vatican who are the same. It’s not only a U.S. problem. A lay led investigation of seminaries is needed.

  2. Charlotte wrote, “Avoiding criminality is a pretty low bar, (although diocese have failed to meet it.) We ought to be able to take action regarding offenses against adults even when those offenses don’t rise to the level of crimes. Most secular workplaces seem to have figured this out.”

    Yes, well, I was trying to ask for suggestions on how to make it easier for priests who experienced or were aware of sexual harassent to report it without having to report it to church authorities who might themselves be implicated in the abuse, since reporting it to the police would not be effective in instances when there was no criminality involved. I was not trying either to minimize the abuse or suggest that avoiding criminality was the best we could hope for, but apparently many people here don’t bother to read comments very carefully. Sorry for my testy tone, but this was an exasperating set of exchanges.

  3. “World Meeting of Families is convened by the Holy Father and promoted by the Holy See’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. In September 2016, this new Dicastery brought together the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pontifical Council for the Family and aspects of the Church’s mission to promote respect for human life in all its stages. The Prefect of the new Dicastery is Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, previously Bishop of Dallas, Texas in the US.”

    Every Catholic ought to be informed that Cardinal Farrell lived with the pedophile McCarrick in Washington D.C. for 6 years. Is this a problem for anyone else but me? I think a private investigation needs to happen funded by the laity. A dossier if you will on clerics who have lived with, were personal secretaries of, or who had close ties with McCarrick.

  4. Exactly. The time for vaguely apologetic statements and legalistic documents is over. This time it is personal. This should have been put behind us 15 years ago, but apparently nothing has changed – this despicable behavior is condoned and even richly rewarded.

    It has been several days, and all we have be given is a rather dry statement by Cardinal DiNardo, admitting their failure. It is *not* enough.

    I have a good bishop (from what I can see), but he has made no statement to our parishes or on the Diocesan website. This is very discouraging, and although I hate to feel this way, it has the appearance of sweeping everything under the rug, laying low, and waiting for the furor to die down.

    We need to hear something faithful, reassuring, and again, *personal* to know that this will never, ever happen again. That the system will be repaired – immediately – in order to make it so. And that those who encouraged this behavior by looking the other way, and those who have a non-faithful agenda, that is not in the best interests of the Church are removed – immediately. Not tomorrow or some undetermined time in the future – NOW.

    I think I speak for many when I say we love our Church and Faith with all our hearts. We do not want to think our Cardinals and Bishops are capable of dishonorable, evil behavior. But after this, they need to work to regain our trust and esteem. At this point, they do not seem to be off to a good start in that direction. They do not seem to be shocked or upset. They are just throwing words at us that they do not seem to have any intention of following.

    Forgive me for sounding uncharitable. I want with all that is in me to be able to defend our leadership. But they are not giving us anything to hold onto.

    Please, everyone, please pray that we are given faithful leadership and that we are delivered from this evil. God help us.

    1. Most of these bishops are careerists and won’t step aside unless forced to do so. They are part of an “Old boys club,” and they support each other. Take a look at these American bishops: they promote one another; they look alike (Yes, take a close look at them); they think alike- consider the Council of Trent versus the Second Vatican Council; they collectively push back against Pope Francis and his reforms; collectively they are corrupt. So don’t expect any great reforms. Expect nothing but a continuing exodus of people from the Catholic Church

      1. So heart breaking. I get upset when I hear clergy chastising young people for the way they deserve for Mass. The same ones holding their tongues.

  5. Given the utter uselessness of so much of the episcopacy, maybe we could have a review of the procedures used for choosing a bishop.

  6. I know that these documents are nowhere near enough and I share the feeling that a great many bishops should now be resigning, with abject apologies.

    But I do think someone needs to sit down and work out administrative/procedural means of ensuring that when a priest observes abuse carried out by another priest, seminarian, bishop, or what have you, has some means of reporting it, to someone who is not directly responsible for his soul, his emotional well-being, or his, heaven help us, ‘career’. Of course priests ought to be willing to risk these things (not their souls, but the rest), for the sake of their flocks, but it ought not to be so difficult for them. Some of them really did make every effort to report suspected abuse, too, and were ignored, denied, or harassed, in some cases right out of the priesthood.

    Perhaps lay committees whose membership changes every 5 years, to which one is appointed by lot, a bit like jury duty? I don’t know. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

    It seems to me that in order to get to the roots of this evil, this particular problem needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

    1. There is a place to report this, it’s called the police. The crime is called rape, it’s illegal, & it doesn’t matter if it’s guy on girl, girl on girl, or guy on guy, if you know someone who is being forced to have sex against their will it is rape. The correct place & first place to report is your nearest police station. Priest don’t need to go above their bishop if he’s the one doing it, as I’ve said several times, it’s called a police report! We don’t need more committees. End. Of. Story.

      1. Yes, but if the people involved are adult male seminarians being hounded by their teachers/confessors/bishops, then going to the police is neither the appropriate nor the effective way of resolving the problem. Please don’t explode with indignation until you’ve given some thought to the issue another poster has raised.

        1. There is no indignation, rape is a crime regardless of age. Going to the police is a very appropriate response to that act. Had people with knowledge of these actions gone to the police from the beginning rather than trying to allow those in the church to handle it I highly doubt we would still be dealing with this situation some 10-15 years later. In addition, the magnitude of people assault would most likely be much less. Thinking an appropriate response to a criminal act is creating more civilian committees vs going to the police is why this situation is so out of hand. Had church authorities done this when the very first cases of abuse became know instead of trying to save face those with tendicies to abuse might have thought twice.

          1. Did you pay any attention to what I said at all, in either my first or second comment, or do you have reading comprehension problems? Some of the cases that have been brought to public attention were clearly rape or statutory rape. A number were not. Many involved the sexual harassment of adults, not rape of any kind of victims of any age but still very serious. It is not possible to report instances of sexual harassment of adults by other adults to the police because such actions, while morally wrong, are not necessarily criminal. The police are not equipped to handle non-criminal activities. THAT is why I was asking for suggestions about administrative solutions to the problem.

          2. Avoiding criminality is a pretty low bar, (although diocese have failed to meet it.) We ought to be able to take action regarding offenses against adults even when those offenses don’t rise to the level of crimes. Most secular workplaces seem to have figured this out.

  7. Phew that was intense….
    But correct AND it accurately referenced Jaws.

    Not sure when it was posted but you won the Catholic bit of the internet that day.

  8. This made me cry.

    I hope it makes some bishops cry, too, because that’s what we need to see. As well as resignations.

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