On Tuesday the Vatican Secretary of State published a report detailing the institutional knowledge and decision-making related to former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The report, which is more than 450-pages long, is the result of a two-year-long investigation by the Vatican following the revelation of McCarrick’s serial sexual abuse that spanned decades.
Fr. Francis Hoffman, aka Fr. Rocky, Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio®, stopped by The Cale Clarke Show on Tuesday to discuss the McCarrick Report and what it means for the Church.
“This is very sad, and of course our hearts go out to all the people who have suffered because of sexual abuse, especially clerical sexual abuse, and then did not find a proper recourse in the Church,” said Fr. Rocky.
Pointing to a theme that stood out to him in reading the McCarrick Report, Fr. Rocky said, “It’s very important for everyone to realize that whether this happens with a priest, a cardinal, a bishop, or a lay person – sexual sin and dishonesty often go together.”
Scripture shows us this in the story of King David. He was God’s favored one but committed sexual sin with Bathsheba. Rather than being honest about his sin after Bathsheba became pregnant, King David arranged for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle. Fr. Rocky pointed out that in a similar way McCarrick’s abuse was evil, and this evil was compounded by the dishonesty that allowed the abuse to continue.
“It seems pretty clear that Ted McCarrick was habitually, maybe even uncontrollably, dishonest,” Fr. Rocky said. “He was living a double-life and wouldn’t admit it. And it seems that various bishops who aided him, all of whom are dead now, were not forthcoming in all of this information. It is told that they were inaccurate, which is a polite way of saying they weren’t completely honest either.”
“So that sets up a real question of whether people are aiding and abetting each other. That’s happened before in history, and the Church is not immune from that.”
The revelation of McCarrick’s abuse is the latest chapter in the sexual abuse crisis that the Church in the United States has been involved in since 2002. Fr. Rocky pointed out that the Church has made great strides in recent decades to protect against the sexual abuse of minors, but the McCarrick Report shows there is still progress to be made.
“Here’s what’s interesting,” he told host Cale Clarke. “It took a credible charge of a crime to bring it all to light. And the crime was the sexual abuse of a minor. What needs to be looked at in much more detail, I think for the Church’s reflection, is we should also be concerned with things that are not technically a crime but also a sin.”
“Adultery is a sin, even though it might not be a crime in the penal law. So if a bishop is sleeping with a young man in the same bed, that’s highly unusual. And for people to say, ‘Well, it wasn’t technically a sin’ then they really lack good judgment. So there is an issue here that we need to be more honest about how we assess these things.”
Dishonesty leads to a lack of trust, and the decades of dishonesty that is detailed in the McCarrick Report is likely to lead to distrust and suspicion of Church leadership who were associated with McCarrick. But Fr. Rocky remained hopeful that trust in the Church can be rebuilt, and that the McCarrick Report is a first step in bringing what was hidden in darkness into the light.
“I think the Church has made a tremendous amount of progress in being aware of the reality of sexual abuse of minors, sexual impropriety with vulnerable adults, and sexual sin with adults even if they’re not vulnerable,” he said. “And now it’s clear there is no double-standard for bishops or cardinals in the Church, though there was once upon a time. I would say this report is a step in the right direction. It’s a first step, it’s not the final step.”
“We pray for the victims, we pray for healing in the Church, and we pray that we can really make strides in terms of honesty and integrity in our own lives.”
Listen to the full conversation with Fr. Rocky below: