The scandal involving abuse charges against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick casts a shadow on the integrity of the entire Church hierarchy, and also highlights the stark contrast between the Catholic Church and other denominations. At the root of this scandal is a cover-up of the practice of a homosexual lifestyle — something normalized and even celebrated in many Protestant churches.
Outrage over immorality is hard to come by these days with values-based feelings as opposed to absolute truths. But for Catholics, learning that our hierarchy ignored McCarrick’s homosexual activity, we can call it what it is — an affront on our Church’s teaching on the sacredness of sex and dignity of the human person.
From an Affront to Celebrated
The root of this diversity in interpretation of sexual morality began through the acceptance of contraception. In the article, “How Protestants Came to Love the Pill,” it is explained that at the time of the Reformation, contraception and abortion were considered among the most wicked of human sins, as direct affronts to the ordinances of God.
The Anglican church first opened the door to contraception in 1930, only for married couples, but thereby separating sex from procreation. By the 1960′s and 1970′s, virtually all Protestant churches in the U.S. and Europe embraced contraception and often abortion. They rejected Pope Paul VI’s opposition to contraception in the 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which predicted with precision what it would do to society. Many Catholics defy the teaching against contraception, but it is consistent and anchors our moral teaching on many ethical issues that have since sprung up. After all, you can’t have true moral authority if sin gets reclassified.
Once contraception was accepted, abortion was easier to embrace. Pastors go so far as to promote abortion now. For instance, four Christian pastors and a Jewish rabbi blessed a late-term abortion facility earlier this year, praying: “And may they always know that all that they do is for Thy glory.”
Many now think that sex can be with whoever, regardless of gender, for whatever reason, and babies can be aborted, conceived in test tubes, their genes edited, extra embryos poured down drains, and among those implanted, some will be killed to make room for the chosen ones.
By separating sex from marriage and procreation, it also opened the door to accepting homosexuality—because, why not? Sex was no longer about the physical union with the potential for life between a husband and wife. Same-sex marriage services are now performed regularly in Protestant churches. Last year, the New York Times covered the story of two women pastors marrying each other. Years ago, I read of a male pastor who divorced his wife, had a same-sex ceremony with another man, became a bishop and later split from his man partner. And consider the confusion reported in Transgender Pastor is Welcomed Into Church With A New Name about a woman pastor who switched to acting as a male pastor.
Our Scandal Reveals the Problem
Msgr. Charles Pope recently wrote that active homosexuality is behind much of the crises in the Church. The 2004 John Jay Report (The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States) reported that that 81 percent of the victims were male and 78 percent of all victims were post-pubescent, not little children.
“This is not pedophilia,” Msgr. Pope explained. “It is homosexual attraction. Regarding the sexual abuse and harassment of seminarians or priests by bishops or other clergy, obviously 100 percent of those victims were male.”
Father Robert Altier’s eye-opening homily on Aug. 19, revealed that a homosexual agenda intentionally infiltrated our seminaries when he was there in the 1980s. He explained that the ongoing cover-up by bishops is a part of that agenda. When the John Jay report, commissioned by the bishops, came back that it is a homosexual problem, Father Altier said that the bishops insisted that it be written as a pedophilia problem despite that less than 3 percent of the abuse occurred with pre-pubescent children which is what pedophilia is.
Clarity of Values
It is through our Catholic teachings that we can identify why the McCarrick case is a scandal at all.
Father Tad Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said in a recent interview, “The steadfast answers taught by the Church offer us a high degree of clarity and direction in a tumultuous world.” He shared a conversation that he once had with an Episcopal minister following a debate with representatives from several religious traditions on stem cells.
“You Catholics have it so good because you have a clear way to get to answers,” the minister told him. “I’ve been on a commission for my church discussing stem cells, and all we’ve been able to do is talk and talk and never arrive at any conclusions.”
“He was right,” Father Pacholczyk said. “There is something very reassuring to have the wisdom, and Tradition, and breath of the Catholic Church behind you. Consistency is one of the marks of Catholic thinking.”
We still have clear, consistent teaching even in the midst of this crises. Those leaving the Church over the scandals, where are they going? Schools, sports, and other denominations have higher incidences of abuse of children, especially since the Catholic Church has enacted tighter controls—which did not but should have also applied to bishops. This latest scandal is now shining a light on the fact that we had only touched the surface in the past and still need to get to the agenda at the root.
Loyal Catholics stay because Jesus is here; he is the vine and we are the branches, not the voting body. In the end, it’s better to have sinful behavior outed as a scandal than celebrated as a lifestyle.