On Sunday, April 3, 2005, the day after the death of St. John Paul II, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick and at least a dozen other priests concelebrated the ten a.m. Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In attendance were, among other dignitaries, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Cardinal McCarrick came out to the pews before Mass, fully vested except for his chasuble, and greeted Sen. Kennedy warmly.
After the Mass, as the celebrants processed out, Sen. Kennedy stood up and took Cardinal McCarrick’s arm. Beaming, they strolled arm in arm down the aisle toward the exit.
At the time, I interpreted this charade as just another clever, cynical, and defiant public confirmation of what we already knew. Kennedy was the most powerful Catholic pro-abortion pol, and McCarrick the most powerful prelate in country. The message? Don’t worry, bishops won’t criticize pro-abortion politicians because they need the federal money (McCarrick went on to confirm that accord in a speech to the Canadian Bishops’ Conference a year later). And bishops would be largely silent about the entire teaching of the Church dealing with sexual morality.
Filthy lucre for silencing the truth? Sure. But in retrospect, that constitutes only a crass sidebar to the deeper message of the pompous gesture’s significance as we look back on it today. What was in fact happening was more lethal: From the heart of the American Church, “Uncle Ted” was signaling to every bishop and every politician that the natural law was “inadmissible” (the term is Pope Francis’, from his recent Death Penalty diktat).
That is to say, what the brilliant Mary Eberstadt has called “the elephant in the sacristy” would stay in the sacristy and keep on wrecking it. Actively homosexual clerics were secure: They need not fear retribution from either the hierarchy or their purchased political friends. And pro-abortion Catholic politicians everywhere need not fear that their bishops would call out publicly their persistence in manifest, grave sin.
The stage-managed PR stunt was rich in symbolism. It was intentionally pulled off in front of the nation’s highest-ranking dignitaries at the foot of the capital’s highest altar. It represented the culmination of years of scheming by those bent on destroying the Church’s laws that are designed to protect the Eucharist from profane desecration.
How did he get away with it? Scholars and churchmen will be examining the impact of the sordid Saga of Uncle Ted for years. For now, written in broad strokes, one conclusion is inescapable: McCarrick was just too powerful to stop.
Read more at The Wanderer