Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

a spectacular power grid

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 18, 2004

As noted below, Richard Sipe has voiced his conviction that the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was untruthful in his claim to have lived chastely and has suggested his success at escaping responsibility for his homosexual lapses may provide a "clue" to a larger puzzle. To his credit, Sipe appealed for an honest appraisal of the connection between the sexual misdeeds of churchmen in powerful positions and the cover-ups -- personal and institutional -- perpetrated by men they recruited, groomed, and promoted:

I have interviewed at length a man who was a sexual partner of Bishop James Rausch. This was particularly painful for me since Rausch and I were young priests together in Minnesota in the early 60s. He went on to get his social work degree and succeeded Bernardin as Secretary of the Bishops' National Conference in DC. He became Bishop of Phoenix.

It is patently clear that he had an active sexual life. It did involve at least one minor. He was well acquainted with priests who were sexually active with minors (priests who had at least 30 minor victims each). He referred at least one of his own victims to these priests.

What was his sexual genealogy? What are the facts of his celibate/sexual development and practice? Did those who knew him know nothing of his life? Perhaps so! But he was in a spectacular power grid of bright men. He was Bernardin's successor at the US Conference. Bishop Thomas Kelly at Louisville was his successor. Msgr. Daniel Hoye and Bishop Robert Lynch, among others, took over his job.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not saying or implying in any way that these men were partners in "crime" with Jim Rausch. But I am saying that anyone who sets out to solve a mystery has to ask people who knew the principal, "What, if anything, did you know or observe about the alleged perpetrator?"

I think Sipe is right on both counts. We don't need to jump to a Grand Unified Theory of conspiracy in order to recognize corruption; ordinary self-interest can account for particular incidents of ad hoc collusion by which gay bishops who are sexually compromised take care of their own. By the same token, it is absurd to pretend that politically astute gay bishops in key positions of influence could have been unaware of the liabilities of the men they advanced, defended, and perjured themselves for.

To anyone who has paid attention to the major players in the Crisis, Sipe's roster of Bernardin cronies is striking. For a glimpse of the Southwest Triangle (Rausch, O'Brien, Moreno) go here, here, here, here, and here. For Robert Lynch's connections, go here and here. Thomas Kelly, whose archdiocese now has problems of its own, winked through Rudy Kos's annulment (in spite of his wife's insistence he was a pedophile), clearing his way into the Dallas seminary headed by Michael Sheehan, who later became Archbishop of Santa Fe. A power grid indeed!

It is beyond dispute that most U.S. bishops are unwilling to take corrective action against the Bernardin junta, and those who might be willing are incapable. Vatican intervention, such as the "new and serious" seminary visitation, is unlikely to effect more than marginal adjustments. By all indications Bishop Lynch will still be rubbing-down triathletes, in excellent episcopal standing, when Always Our Children goes into its 11th edition. Of course, this is not to suggest that the fullness of Catholic Faith isn't being implemented strenuously at every level of the hierarchy -- indeed we have Bishop Wilton Gregory's personal assurance to the contrary.

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