If they were serious about understanding his scandal, they would interrogate him.
My encounter with Cardinal Joseph Tobin last week was too brief for extensive questioning. I wish that I had had time to ask him why Francesco Castiglione, the Italian actor whom he admitted lived at his rectory until I reported it, would go “back” to Italy if his presence in New Jersey was explained by his language classes at Seton Hall. The Seton Hall semester was far from over at the time in early October my report triggered his departure from the rectory. Yet Tobin said that he believed he went “back” to Italy.
Tobin’s answer is suspicious for another reason: the photos dotting Castiglione’s Facebook page make it clear that he is not in Italy but on the East Coast. In one recent photo, he is splashing around the beaches of Florida. Why was Tobin playing dumb about his whereabouts? And why did Tobin’s spokesman Jim Goodness feel the need to dodge my questions earlier about Castiglione’s presence at the rectory if his staying there was all above board? “I will not entertain that question,” he had said defensively.
At the USCCB conference in Baltimore, Tobin had to do a lot of tap dancing, a performance not without its amusements. His biggest whopper was his insistence that the bishops were determined to uncover the entire story of McCarrick’s corruption. He informed his colleagues that he has retained the services of private detectives to aid in exposing the whole nefarious tale. (Perhaps while the detectives are at it, they could investigate Tobin too.)
Naturally, Tobin’s peers were too timid or compromised to call him on this odd outsourcing, which, given that it is coming from a McCarrick crony and beneficiary of his string-pulling, can only be interpreted as a bluff and stalling tactic. After all, why would Tobin and the other liberal bishops need to hire private detectives when McCarrick sits in a Catholic friary in Kansas? What is stopping Tobin from calling up his friend and getting the story straight from him? Or a delegation of bishops visiting him in Kansas for an interrogation?
The bishops could have forced McCarrick to come clean months ago by threatening to cut him off unless he made a full confession of his corruption. The reason his old peers are pussyfooting around him is that they fear exposure of his story. It would embarrass too many of them.
Former Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan was one of the more garrulous prelates in attendance at the Baltimore conference. I saw him wandering around outside the Marriott Hotel, peppering protesters with the question, “Are you right-wing or left-wing?” I went up to Sheehan and asked him for his thoughts on the conference. We got to talking about Donald Wuerl and his mentor Cardinal John Wright, whom Sheehan thought possibly “gay.”
Sheehan, who has never been known as a conservative, readily acknowledged that the abuse scandal was due in large part to the sexual revolution invading the Church, an invasion which brought with it a lot of “actively gay” priests. He also chalked the scandal up to a priestly abandonment of spirituality. “Priests stopped praying and going to confession,” he said. He groused about the anti-Viganò measures floated at the conference and dismissed Wuerl’s story that he didn’t know about McCarrick’s predations as an obvious lie. He had known “Don” for a long time and wasn’t buying it: “How could he have not known?” (Sheehan also said that he thought New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond should succeed Wuerl; I had heard Aymond’s name weeks ago as appearing on the replacement list but haven’t heard that recently.)
To keep a lid firmly pressed down on the McCarrick mess, Wuerl at the Baltimore convention prodded his brother bishops, many of whom enjoy his patronage, into deferring to the Vatican’s corrupt direction. The vast majority of bishops agreed to do nothing until the pope addresses the abuse issue next February, at a quickie conference where nothing is likely to be done either. Francis, who knowingly rehabbed a molester of seminarians and sent him throughout the world as a papal envoy (McCarrick’s diplomacy always seemed to take him to the sort of countries Michael Jackson frequented, such as Saudi Arabia), doesn’t want this matter ventilated any more than Wuerl, Cupich, or Tobin.
By postponing the meeting until next year, Pope Francis was hoping that Pervnado would blow over. Also, it gives him time to try and fasten as much blame as possible on his predecessors. On Twitter Francis apologists now routinely attribute McCarrick’s elevation to “Pope John Paul II,” making sure to keep the discussion far away from Viganò’s jaw-dropping revelation that he told Francis directly about McCarrick’s predations and Francis still propped him up.
We also hear occasional babblings about a “trial” for McCarrick that Francis appears to show no interest in holding anytime soon. The next time McCarrick’s enablers see him is more likely to be a funeral than a trial or interrogation.
Photo: Then-Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan in 2014 (YouTube screenshot).