Since former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick became the face of priestly scandal, Catholic media has been frantic while the secular press has been relatively silent. Why?
Note from Father Gordon MacRae: I want to thank David F. Pierre, Jr., for his outstanding guest post, “Losing Perspective: Catholic Media Join the Sex Abuse Pile-On.” I will have a response to it here next week, and some comments on that infamous Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report that wants us to think that the sky is falling on the Catholic Church.
Several months ago, I received an invitation from the Editor of The Wall Street Journal to become a registered Wall Street Journal Opinion Leader. It magnified for me the responsibility I feel when, with the help of friends, I post commentaries on various news and opinion pieces in the WSJ online edition. Many of my comments have been cited and recommended by other readers.
After accepting this invitation, I was, shocked to learn that my very next comment was blocked by WSJ for “offensive content.” A little background is needed:
On May 25, 2018, The Wall Street Journal published a guest editorial by Jesuit Father James Martin, outspoken advocate for “gay rights” and author of the recent book, Building a Bridge. Father Martin’s WSJ column was entitled, “The Missing Link in Sex-Abuse Reform.” It included some terminology that seemed to capture his mindset about the causes and origins of the Catholic clerical sex abuse story:
“The U.S. Conference of Bishops set up the Office of Child and Youth Protection… Even some reputable psychiatrists [had previously] judged pedophilia a treatable disease.”
In light of the widely publicized Chilean scandal, Father Martin pointed out that “All of Chile’s Catholic bishops offered their resignations to Pope Francis” which brought Father Martin to the central point of his article: “Why didn’t America’s?” I tried to post a response to Father Martin’s article for publication at The Wall Street Journal’s online edition. This was my comment:
“Were Sigmund Freud alive today, he might find very curious the mental gymnastics that Catholic leaders of the left go through to shield homosexual priests from being connected to The Scandal. It is a monument to the power of reaction formation that an entire institution would prefer the term ‘pedophile scandal’ to ‘homosexual scandal’ even when the facts say otherwise. With this piece, Father Martin is not building a bridge. He is blockading a harbor. This is why scant attention is paid to the rampant abuse of the sex abuse story.” (Fr. Gordon MacRae, WSJ.com, May 25, 2018)
What I meant by “the rampant abuse of the sex abuse story” in that comment was something that I have long railed against as patently dishonest. Since the last and largest wave of The Scandal in 2002, the news media has proliferated the lie that this is, and always has been, a story about pedophilia, the sexual abuse of prepubescent children. Many Church officials were complicit in carefully crafting their terminology to support “The Myth of the Pedophile Priest.”
The day after I attempted to post the above comment, I learned that it was blocked for “content deemed offensive.” Of course, I assumed that the offending word was “pedophile” which has been freely tossed about by bishops, lawyers, the news media, and many Catholic commentators to frame and define The Scandal.
So I appealed for reconsideration of my comment to the WSJ Moderator because my use of that term was only in reference to Father Martin’s use of it in the text of his column. But I was wrong in my assumption, and received this surprising response:
“Dear Father MacRae: Thank you for contacting us. Your comment was blocked for use of the word ‘homosexual.’ We have approved the post and we are also working to fine-tune our profanity filter so that it does not block such comments. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
A DEPRIVATION OF SOUL-SEARCHING HONESTY
In my mind, the scandal triggered by the Cardinal McCarrick story was really triggered by Fr. James Martin who reasserted the propaganda that the Church’s crisis is, and has been, a story of child sexual abuse. He also asserted that “the missing link in the Church’s response to the sex abuse crisis has been the accountability of bishops.”
In the nation’s largest newspaper, Father Martin took the spotlight off priests and shined its glare squarely on the bishops. Just two months after Father Martin wrote those words, the entire framework of Catholic scandal shifted to what it really is and has been, for the last fifty years.
With the emergence of the Cardinal McCarrick story, the media had no place left to turn. This is, and always has been, a story of narcissistic homosexual behavior. The narcissism at its core was the central point in my post, “Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the Homosexual Matrix.”
The last several weeks have been for me an education in media bias and its iron grip on political correctness. Last year I was given a gift subscription to The Week magazine. It markets itself as “The Best in the U.S. and International Media.” It’s a sort of print equivalent of a news aggregator with summaries of news and columns from across the nation and the world. For anyone who writes, it is a helpful tool.
It is also a biased one. The Week leans clearly, blatantly to the left, but so does the U.S. and international media it is summarizing so that comes as no surprise. It is published every Friday so I usually receive it in the Saturday evening mail. It has its finger on the pulse of the mainstream news media, and I have found within it lots of quotable material.
The Week has never hesitated to throw the Catholic Church under the bus. In every issue, and at every step along the way, the magazine has highlighted stories about the Catholic sex abuse scandal. Segments of news articles from the United States to Chile and around the globe to Australia have kept a spotlight focus on the abuse crisis in the Church.
There is a problem with spotlights. They cast an intense beam in one place – the place the news media wants you to see – while leaving a much larger truth in darkness. What this story has always needed was a floodlight, and, sadly, the Cardinal McCarrick story provided it.
But in the weeks after the Cardinal McCarrick revelations and all their subsequent fallout, I set my copies of The Week aside without even looking at them. TSW readers were printing and sending me vast amounts of material from Crisis magazine, the Catholic World Report, the National Catholic Register, even Church Militant by Michael Voris. It was a virtual print tsunami of speculation and confrontation from Catholic voices.
Some readers have written to tell me how painful this glut of commentary from Catholic sources has been to read. We were saturated with it. This is why I set my copies of The Week aside without even opening them. If this is what Catholic voices are doing with this story, I thought, then I could only imagine what the secular press has in store for its anti-Catholic drumbeat.
Finally, after plowing through all commentary sent to me from Catholic sources abuzz with the latest version of The Scandal, I summoned my courage. A week after posting my own Cardinal McCarrick story, I steeled myself against the onslaught and read, cover to cover, the copies of The Week I had set aside. They were dated July 27, August 3, and August 10.
To my great shock and a sigh of relief, not one of them even mentioned Cardinal McCarrick or any aspect of this story. It’s hard for me to describe my spontaneous feeling about that. It was one of relief, of course, but it was more than that. It was a feeling that I have not experienced since I was eleven years old and in the 7th grade.
It was the sense of relief I felt then when the school bully, looking for a target, passed me by. When I was 15, and he was still the school bully, I knocked him right on his ass one day, and then he passed by all of my friends as well. But at eleven, he rented space in my psyche.
That’s a key insight. This is how I have seen the secular media throughout this crisis. Its role has not been to inform, but to bully, to demean, to shape the news and to shape our individual and collective responses to it. As a bully, the news media rents space in the psyches of our bishops who have cowered from it and have cowardly toed the line with its rhetoric.
I initially felt a certain gratitude toward The Week for giving us Catholics a brief respite. It was like a bout of “Stockholm Syndrome,” however, almost like feeling gratitude toward my captors. It didn’t stay that way.
The night before typing this post I awakened with a start at 3:00 AM and I became incredibly angry. The clarity of certain truth came over me and I knew it was truth. We have been played by the media. We are being played right now. There was only one reason why The Week and other media kept silent about McCarrick.
The Cardinal McCarrick story brought focus and clarity that the millstone around the priesthood’s neck for over two decades can now be described in only one way. It is a homosexual scandal.
The mainstream news media is deeply committed to aiding and abetting the “omertà,” the organized silence that withholds from you that truth. I am furious! You should be furious too!
IF YOU WRITE IT, THEY WILL COME
Something else interesting happened after we published “Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the Homosexual Matrix” at These Stone Walls. Usually, I can only judge the interest in a specific post by the number of people who have commented and by how many have shared it on Facebook and other social media.
The comments on that post were excellent and thought provoking, but the social media response to it was slow and quiet. I believe it was shared about 400 times, but other TSW posts have been shared as many as 25,000 times. Then, about ten days after the above post was published, I received in the mail a printed copy of a Weekly Analytics Report for These Stone Walls. I was shocked to learn that it was the most widely read TSW post thus far in 2018.
Thousands of readers came to it because it was featured at The Big Pulpit, the “Best of the Catholic Web” published by Tito Edwards, and the National Catholic Register. But the report revealed some other interesting things as well. Among the top cities visiting it was Mountain View, California, where it seemed to attract the attention of people at Google Headquarters located there. I made a mental note to keep an eye on that. I have seen some search engine and social media manipulation of both Catholic and conservative sites and even suppression of content.
THE CARDINAL’S SINS ARE NOT HIS ALONE
I received a message from Catholic League President Bill Donohue on August 3. He wrote that his appearance on EWTN and The World Over with Raymond Arroyo would be rebroadcast at 10:00 PM that night, and I had missed it the first time around Bill Donohue was to appear after Robert Royal of The Catholic Thing and Father Gerald Murray, a Canon Lawyer from the Archdiocese of New York. I was glad to catch the entire, and very important, presentation.
I had a previous occasion to listen to Robert Royal on The World Over in a May 2018 broadcast. I was troubled by what I heard then, and mentioned this in my post, “Holy Orders in Exile: The Ascension of Persona Christi.” Here is what I wrote then:
“When I tuned in that night (it was May 17; Bill Donohue was preceded in the discussion by Robert Royal of The Catholic Thing. I respect Robert Royal, but what he said on The World Over was an example of the injustice I am writing about. He mentioned that Cardinal Bernard Law “covered up sexual abuse in Boston” and “was allowed to move to Rome where he was sheltered beyond the reach of the law.”
I explained in the above post why I believe those representations are untrue. This time, watching the August 3rd replay of a more recent episode, I found Mr. Royal to be more measured and accurate in his response, at least in regard to the Cardinal McCarrick revelations. But all of those present, with the exception of Bill Donohue, seemed anxious to use the McCarrick scandal to open doors to an anti-clerical agenda.
This has always been the great danger of the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, and now that it is called by its proper name – a homosexual scandal – has not changed that fact. There is a marked tendency to use this as ammunition in some other agenda.
I applaud Bill Donohue of The Catholic League for keeping his focus on the truth, on what is known now, and on what needs to be known, to end this long Lent for the Catholic Church. And he insists this can be done – and must be done – without denying former Cardinal McCarrick, and anyone else so accused, the due process rights owed to them – including a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
In that regard, I must register my disappointment with the administration of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC which took the unprecedented step of revoking an honorary degree conferred on Cardinal McCarrick. I can only quote something that Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote of my diocese when it issued a press release pronouncing me guilty before my trial:
“Church officials apparently found it inconvenient to dally while due process ran its course.”
And lastly, there is the important question of “Why now?” As made clear in “Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the Homosexual Matrix,” this story is not at all new. Anecdotally, at least, it was well known among American priests and hierarchy during the awful years of the sexual revolution and its aftermath in the 1970s and 1980s. The claims of those close to McCarrick – that they saw nothing, heard nothing, suspected nothing – are not believable.
But why now? The 16-year-old who says he was groped is not 16, but 63. The 11-year-old who says he was exploited until age 31 – a dubious age range seemingly designed to deflect from the homosexual angle – is also now in his 60s. Are there other agendas at work here? I strongly suspect so.
I cannot shed the feeling that there is something else, or someone else pulling at these strings. If Theodore McCarrick is now the puppet show, then we may be the puppets – doing exactly what the string-pullers expect of us: moral panic.
For a vivid example of how our strings are being pulled by the news media, i just received my latest issue of The Week. Now that the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report has momentarily replaced Cardinal McCarrick in the news, the floodlight is switched off and the spotlight is back on decade old claims of child abuse. After silence about the McCarrick homosexual story, The Week has front page coverage under the title “Shamed Again” . The magazine has excerpts from no less than a dozen media outlets pouncing on the PA story after ignoring McCarrick. It includes the holy water story, and the crucifix story, and concludes; “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.” Now the homosexual subculture behind all this can hide in the shadows once again.
Editor’s Note: Please share this important post. You may also like these related posts from Father Gordon MacRae and These Stone Walls:
- Cardinal George Pell and Other Martyrs for a Nefarious Cause
- #MeToo & #HimToo: Jonathan Grover & Father Gordon MacRae
- How SNAP Brought McCarthyism to American Catholics
- Five Years of Pope Francis in a Time of Heresy