How McCarricks Happen, by Stephen Bullivant, Giovanni Radhitio Putra Sadewo

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By Stephen Bullivant and Giovanni Radhitio Putra Sadewo, Catholic Herald, April 18, 2021 

The brute fact is that that they don’t just happen out of nowhere. Rather, McCarricks are the malign by-products of a system ostensibly designed to create something else entirely: bishops who are, as per Canon 378, ‘outstanding in solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence, and human virtues’. While we have no doubt that the system succeeds in producing those as well, it clearly suffers from significant vulnerabilities.


There are certain things you don’t want to write about. They are too sad or sordid or strange that they give you an uncomfortable feeling right in the pit of your stomach. — Theodore McCarrick, ‘An Unpleasant Task’ (2002)

From Savile to Sandusky to Epstein to – yes – McCarrick, it has become something of a cliché to say we need to stop thinking in terms of ‘bad apples’, and instead turn our attention to defective ‘barrels’. Rotten apples, we’re assured, are symptoms rather than the root cause. Our real problems are ones of coopering, not horticulture.

The basic sentiment here is a sound one, up to a point. No man is an island, not even those who (like Epstein) own one. And if it takes a village to raise a child, there’s often a small town’s worth of people complicit – in myriad ways and to varying degrees of culpability – in covering up the abuse of one. …

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