Cardinal McCarrick’s faulty memory

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 21, 2018

As he revealed that he had been accused of sexual abuse, Cardinal McCarrick made an interesting protestation of innocence: “While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse…”

The accusation, which a review board found credible, occurred almost fifty years ago, the cardinal reported. So it would be asking too much to expect precise memories. Still… Well, let me illustrate.

Imagine that I made statements along the following lines:

  1. Gee, that was almost fifty years ago! I have absolutely no recollection of…
    • …seeing Hannah Arendt interviewed on television.
    • …watching my little brother play blackgammon.
    • …swimming in the neighbor’s pool at midnight.
  2. Gee, that was almost fifty years ago! I have absolutely no recollection of…
    • …being chosen 3rd in the NBA draft.
    • …redesigning the Rolls-Royce aircraft engine.
    • …accompanying Joan Sutherland on the piano.
  3. Gee, that was almost fifty years ago! I have absolutely no recollection of…
    • …being chased by a leopard.
    • …riding in the co-pilot’s seat of my friend’s Cessna.
    • …going out for drinks with Catherine Deneuve.

The statements in the 1st category involve things that I don’t specifically recall, but could possibly have occurred. My memory could be shown faulty, by someone’s diary or a fortuitous home-movie clip.

The statements in the 2nd category involve things that could not possibly have happened to me; they are constitutionally impossible.

The statements in the 3rd category involve things that could theoretically have occurred, but if they had, I would most certainly not have forgotten them.

So, your Eminence, in which category do you wish us to place your failure of memory?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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