My family has had its inevitable brushes with the Culture of McCarrick. They emerge unexpectedly in our day-to-day activities and unfold fully on Sundays at church.
One began at a country club swimming pool two summers ago. Shortly after our boys, then nine and six, began splashing around, a group of teen girls entered. They were junior high school-age, as revealed in conversation they saw no need to conceal. One soon began boasting of her romantic relationship with another girl.
On a separate occasion, we were in an elevator along with a mother and her children who were having a conversation about how a boy was allowed to use the girls’ bathroom at school. The family seemed to approve.
Prior to this, my wife and I had been living out of the country and our boys were born overseas. While we were a little surprised by how things seem to have changed in the U.S. over our time away, we don’t have any illusions that the culture offers any assistance to people trying to raise families in the light of faith. We try to be on guard for mainstreamed perversity that might insinuate itself between us and our children – even in the most mundane settings.
We had also counted on the Church, which is supposed to be for us where the culture is against us. It’s a “field hospital” where nicked up families can be healed and fortified in the faith before heading back out to the fight.
Yet care is not forthcoming. Week after week, we get nothing but the slow, stupefying drip of silence from the pulpit and from our schools. Meanwhile, the culture continues to chip away.
After the Alfie Evans saga, we got – nothing. Two men can marry and raise children, and from the pulpit we got nothing. On abortion, I guess I’d have to admit we get a little bit of lip service once in a while. But on items like contraception, drug abuse, children and parents alienated from each other in a filthy, puerile culture – nothing, nothing, and more nothing.
This is where the real evil of Theodore McCarrick deals its soundless blows. The man himself may be gone (unless you live in Kansas), but the culture he represents is ensconced on the couch in the Church’s living room, with his feet on the table and his mind on the obscene. This obese, demonic lump has no plans to go anywhere, and if we don’t like it, well, we can shut up and pray.
Families like mine come to church each Sunday, put their fair share and maybe more in the collection plate, send their children to Catholic schools, and end up being victimized. Even if every pederast predator were caught, even if there were no harassment in the seminaries, those living unchaste lifestyles subsidized by the Church are doing great damage. With their influence, they are keeping the truth on a leash, and families are paying the price.
As a father, I know I am the one responsible for the moral education of my children. So when we are confronted with boys using girls’ bathrooms or girls dating each other, I have to do two things: provide moral clarity by way of explanation and make certain that I am raising my children in a setting where they will know something is wrong about certain things they have seen or heard.
But is it too much to ask for a little messaging help from the Church? There are beauty and coherence in the Church’s teaching on personal morality – especially as it should be applied to the prominent issues of the day. But it is left unarticulated. Instead, we get accommodations to the zeitgeist veiled as exhortations to “tolerance,” “diversity,” and “mercy.” There is nothing merciful about leaving the truth unspoken.
How long will it be before my children recognize the conflict between the silence from the pulpit and the morality I am teaching and attempting to model for them? Cardinal Timothy Dolan admitted the problem when asked about abortion, so-called “same-sex marriage,” and contraception in a news interview a few years ago. “I look at myself,” he said, “in my almost 37 years as a priest, rare would be the times that I preached about those issues.” As a husband and father, this is not what I need.
At this point, I am not even asking for the Church to be a sign of contradiction in the culture. I’m begging it to preach the fullness of the faith within its own walls and for Catholic schools not to be ashamed of their identity and tradition.
At our boys’ school not long ago, a new teacher put a small, LGBTQ triangle-shaped rainbow sticker on the window of his classroom door. Another father and I talked to the principal about it immediately, and the sticker was gone by the end of the day. While that was the appropriate response, it never should have come to that. The morals of the school should have been clear enough that no teacher would ever have thought of putting up one of those stickers. I also wonder if anyone else would have raised the issue if my friend and I hadn’t said anything. This is the state of the faith.
True and clear messaging is vital for adolescents. A 1994 study found that three of four boys who think they are homosexual as teenagers even out their sexual desires by the time they are adults. Of children who think they’re the opposite sex, 80 to 95 percent come to accept themselves as they are. These numbers clearly show that the lost can find their way home. But our churches are not even leaving the porch light on, and some get stuck in the wilderness, in a misery they may never have approached if they had heard a few of the right words at the right time from the pulpit.
That is because McCarrick remains with us, at least for now. He’s among the faithful every Sunday in all that you are not hearing but should be.
Editor’s note: This article comes to 1P5 from an anonymous dad trying to live the Faith.