Sex Abuse Questions the Bishops Still Won’t Answer

Open Letter to U.S. Bishops on the Sixth Anniversary of the McCarrick Revelations

June 20, 2024

Dear Bishops,

On June 20, 2018, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s “open secret” was outed in the media: that he, like more than 150 bishops today, was a homosexual predator who preyed on seminarians, young priests, and minors.  In the following weeks dubbed the “Summer of Shame,” the Catholic hierarchy came under fire as sitting bishops admitted “we all knew” of McCarrick’s abuses; as journalists uncovered more than $600,000 in payouts from McCarrick made to at least two popes and other high-powered Church leaders; and as priests and seminarians came forward to describe how their vocations were lost because McCarrick abused them.  When the damning discoveries threatened to topple Churchmen at the highest ranks, you and your brother bishops promised your flocks that such abuses and cover-ups would never happen again.

As clergy sex abuse victims mark the sixth anniversary of when the abuses the bishops knew about for decades were exposed in the media, a number of unanswered questions continue to shake the Faithful’s trust in your claims that clergy sex abuse is a “problem of the past.”  Your refusal to address the following questions has led victims’ advocates to be more concerned than ever about the safety of minors and seminarians.

  1. If you truly have “zero tolerance” for clergy misconduct, why do new investigative reports like “Who Will Save Our Seminarians?” continue in 2024 to capture screenshots of the Grindr gay dating app page of a priest being sued for sexually abusing a seminarian, or pornographic text messages a pastor reportedly sent to a young man aspiring to become a priest?
  2. If you truly meant your pledges of “never again,” why are you allowing priests accused of sexually exploiting seminarians to still oversee U.S. seminaries and parishes like those identified in recent reports such as “Who Will Save Our Seminarians?;” “From Predators to Pastors?;” and “Clerical Abuse and Misconduct: Diocese of Springfield in Illinois?”
  3. If you are truly committed to “transparency,” why are priests and seminarians still being punished, dismissed, and even evicted from rectories because they reported sexual abuse?
  4. If you truly wish for sex abuse victims to trust that complaints brought to the Church will be acted upon, why are a growing number of U.S. dioceses today still headed by fellow bishops who themselves face credible graphic complaints of engaging in or covering up sexual misconduct?
  5. If you truly believe that clergy who commit or cover up abuse should be sentenced to lead a life of “prayer and penance,” why is Cardinal Wilton Gregory paying his predecessor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, more than $4 million from the wallets of Washington Catholics for so-called “ministry activities” after he resigned in disgrace?
  6. If you truly wish to rid the clergy of sexual misconduct, why do studies continue to show that 4 out of 5 clerics working in the Vatican and more than 3 out of 5 U.S. priests identify as homosexuals; or that “73 percent of homosexuals acknowledged having preyed on adolescents or younger boys;” or that the priesthood is increasingly dubbed a “gay profession” owing to the surging percentage of homosexual bishops and priests?
  7. If you truly wish to stand up for seminarians and other vulnerable adults, why has not one bishop called upon Pope Francis to respond to allegations that he himself sexually abused seminarians?
  8. If you were sincere when you claimed that “every time one bishop fails to act, the entire episcopate is tainted,” why are more abused seminarians today than ever before forced to turn to the legal system for protection after Church leaders covered up their complaints or even dismissed them for reporting sexual predation?

As these problems continue to worsen, your silence speaks volumes.  The bishops’ unkept promises made six years ago today has led one victims’ advocate to remark:

“More times than I can count, the Catholic hierarchy has shown itself to be unconcerned about the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.  They place value in keeping their secrets, their power, and their money.  To them the Catholic schools and seminaries are a source of fresh victims for their predatory appetites.  No one will save the seminarians.  Certainly no one within the Church.”

As dioceses continue to hemorrhage priestly vocations and sex abuses remain unchecked in seminaries, Catholics are realizing that they can no longer count on Church leaders to save our seminarians.  Until you have the moral courage to act, our Church will remain a place where abusers like McCarrick roam free and seminarians are “preyed upon” rather than “prayed for.”

Sincerely,

Gene Thomas Gomulka

Gene Thomas Gomulka is a sexual abuse victims’ advocate, investigative reporter, and screenwriter. A former Navy (O6) Captain/Chaplain, seminary instructor, and diocesan respect life director, Gomulka was ordained a priest for the Altoona-Johnstown diocese and later made a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by St. John Paul II. Follow Gene Gomulka on YouTube or email him at msgr.investigations@gmail.com.

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