Mr. McCarrick’s Laicization Is a Small Step in the Long Journey to Church Renewal


(photo: 2002 photo by Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)
As the latest sexual-abuse crisis to plague the Church has continued to unfold, I am convinced that we are still in the early stages of this cataclysmic, if providential, event.
A week before the summit on sexual abuse of minors got underway at the Vatican last month, the Church turned another page in responding to the crisis, with the decision to laicize disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Found guilty of “solicitation in the sacrament of confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power,” according to the official Vatican document, McCarrick can no longer publicly present himself as a priest. He can no longer celebrate Mass or hear confessions. Thus ends the clerical status of a man who seemed to distort his priestly authority to gain power and influence and pervert his vow of celibacy for sexual exploitation. I pray every day for his public repentance and conversion and for healing for those who have been harmed by this grave abuse.
However, let me reiterate that the change in McCarrick’s status is part of but one chapter of a very long story, a story that must ultimately end in the renewal and purification of the Church — which is not simply an institution but the very Body of Christ.
Only by identifying the poisons of predatory homosexuality, licentiousness of every kind, poor formation and worldliness, and ultimately the abuse of power that has shielded all such behavior among clergy and professed religious can these scourges be removed. The Church identified the poison in McCarrick, but there are many more toxic situations yet to be uncovered and dealt with decisively.
As we embark on another Lent amid this “Long Lent” within the Church, let us offer our fasting and our mortification for renewal and purification of the Body of Christ.
God bless you!