Opening a Pandora’s  box? Former Cardinal McCarrick faces laicization.

What does that mean? – Michael J. O’Loughl in America Jesuit February 12, 2019. 

Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, pictured in 2017. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)  To speak about Sin and Sex is to open a Pandora’s Box or a Can of worms and virtues! The happiest thing that happened in my life of 84 years lived is the appearance on the horizon of Pope Francis – universally acclaimed as a Saint and ‘Sinner’, his own description, after having the lived experience under 6 Popes and got photographed with “Paul VI”, all great Popes. So nothing personal against any one,  least of all against McCarrick.

Clerical Celibacy

Clerical celibacy is a vast subject! I even wrote a booklet on it and other allied topics like ‘confession’ while editing the New Leader some 40 years ago! That said, the article below, deals with it only or mainly from a Canonical point of view or church laws. Laws bind, freedom of the children of God liberates! Time was, when rules ruled the roost. Today stress is on God of Mercy, on the warm embrace of the prodigal Father!

What ought to be more important for the Church is moral and theological perspective. “Your Excellencies, I thought the church was here to show the wayfarers in this vale of tears the way to go to heaven, and not to teach them how the heavens go round!”, Galileo or so is reported to have said.

Today most of the theological scholars are convinced, the Man from Nazareth never dreamt of today’s hierarchical Constantinean Church. Neither did he institute any of the sacraments, priesthood and liturgical rules. How could he, one born in the Cattle-shed and  bitterest enemy of the Priestly class? Was he just Son of Man or of God? God begetting a son through a virgin already betrothed? Ever heard of it in history? Rational or absurd? Of course people are free to believe anything absurd!

Just two points only

Just two points only! 1. Human origin in pairs — male and female! 2. Creation, for a glorious joyful end or without End!

Development of humans is impossible without male and female. One without the other is only a piece of humanity, incomplete! Sexual orgasm, is the only foretaste of Everlasting bliss for humans on earth. That is why Old Testament – for those who put their whole trust in scriptures —  speaks of women or wives as blessings from heaven. The Haram of Muslims is justified even today on that score. Just the opposite for the Catholic church – Sex is sin! — in spite of the exstacies in the Canticle of canticles!

End is the first in the mind of a designer, and last in execution, if there is a rational designer. Nothing created is destroyed, everything is progressing inexorably for a better tomorrow which we shall never know today. Our todays are made up of days of light and nights of darkness. None of us can see beyond our nose! Geniuses and cracks are near allied. None of us can dream except wild dreams! Who hits the jack pot, when and how, no one can tell. Hence wisdom suggests to call ourselves “Know-Nothings!”—the whole lot of us.

Nature works in an orderly fashion, in spite of volcanic eruptions destroying or  floods cleaning the world. Both fire and water are for the good. Destruction of the one is for regeneration of another. Experience teaches us that.

Sex and Sin!

Coming back to Sex and Sin, Indian thought and philosophy – not because I am a crazy Indian, I am not — East and West must complement each other! Indian thought tells us natural human development is through 4 stages: Brahmachariya (student days), Grahasta(family life), Vanaprasta(forest-life of retirement), Sannyasa(spiritual journey to heaven).

This normal growth of the family was turned topsy-turvy by the Church of Constantine by imposing celibacy for priests for the sake of power and pelf, for worshiping the golden calf of splendor, titles and glory. In the Jesus community there were celibates and married men, Peter to start with. So celibacy will be there always as a shining jewel, not imposed but freely chosen. If it has become a stumbling block for many to triple and fall, the culprit is the Catholic church which made it compulsory for priests. Are there not more married men more service minded than too many selfish priests?

Selective use of Bible!

Even Bible tells us that a Bishop must be husband of one wife only. (For over-smart priests today it may mean they can have more than one.) It means a presiding officer should have lived experience of dealing with all sexes, both young and old in a family. Humans have no better option than to live in a family of Love and Care, bear and forgive, live and let live, without descending and resorting to violence of the wild irrational animal world. An awful lot to write on this topic, not possible to do here!

The example of McCarrick could be an instance to show how corruption of the best becomes the worst.(Corruptio optimi, pessima). To err is human. We learn more from our failures.  We have to learn even from a grave digger! Our lives are a litany of failures and falls. Even the Son of Man for all Seasons, fell thrice on his way to the pinnacle of glory on Calvary’s top, a journey he started from the Cattle shed!

No cross, No crown!

But how can a triumphant Church of glory rooted in the royal worldly splendor of Constantine find any comfort in wearing and bearing the cross which alone merit one the crown of unsullied bliss? james kottoor, editor, ccv.

Please read below article in America on McCarrick

Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington who last summer was removed from public ministry and who then resigned from the College of Cardinals, could also be dismissed from the clerical state, one of the highest forms of punishment issued to priests.

Also known as laicization and sometimes referred to colloquially as defrocking, a sentence of laicization would complete a stunning fall from grace for the former cardinal, who at one time wielded immense influence in both Rome and the United States. Last year, then-Cardinal McCarrick was reported to the Archdiocese of New York, accused of abusing a 16-year-old boy in the 1970s. Two more allegations of the abuse of minors also surfaced, as did claims that Archbishop McCarrick sexually harassed and assaulted priests and seminarians.

If the Vatican decides to expel Archbishop McCarrick from the priesthood, it would close one chapter of the abuse crisis, but many questions will remain.
What is laicization? The term “laicization” refers to scenarios in which a member of the clergy, through the use of the church’s legal apparatus, is no longer permitted to act as a priest. Sometimes a priest may petition Rome for laicization, often in order to marry. (A priest who wishes to marry needs, in addition to laicization, to request being released from his vow of celibacy, which is a separate process.)

In other cases, laicization is a form of punishment, commonly described as being “dismissed from the clerical state,” often because of violations of the commandment barring adultery. (Before the 1983 revision to the code of canon law, priests who were laicized were often referred to as being “reduced” to the lay state.)

A sentence of laicization would complete a stunning fall from grace for the former cardinal, who at one time wielded immense influence in both Rome and the United States.

What does laicization entail? Is it the same as defrocking?
When a priest is laicized, he is no longer permitted to celebrate the sacraments. He cannot preach a homily or hold a post at a seminary.

Nor is he allowed to present himself as a priest, meaning he cannot wear clerical garb. This is where the slang term “defrocked” originates, referring to the taking away of a priest’s attire, though “defrocking” is not a technical term. (It is possible, however, that a priest could be ordered to refrain from wearing clericals in public without being dismissed from the clerical state.) 

What does this mean for Archbishop McCarrick?

For starters, it means a change in prefix. He lost the honorific “Cardinal” last summer when he resigned from the College of Cardinals, but he kept the title of archbishop and the honorific “Most Reverend.” If he is laicized, he will simply be “Mr. McCarrick.”

A laicization also raises a number of practical questions about the 88-year-old’s future.Last September, church authorities announced that the former cardinal was living at a friary in rural Kansas. While laicization would not prohibit the former archbishop from continuing to reside in a church-owned facility, the church would no longer be required to provide for his material needs.

Can a laicized priest receive the sacraments?

Yes. While a laicized priest is no longer permitted to celebrate the sacraments, he is still able to partake in the sacramental life of the church.Though in Archbishop McCarrick’s case, there are two unique issues to consider.

First, laicized bishops are rarely freed from their vows of celibacy, which means they cannot marry in the church.A laicization raises a number of practical questions about the 88-year-old’s future.

What oversight does the church hold over a laicized priest?

Not much.In fact, some Catholics have argued that it is better for the church not to laicize credibly accused abusers who, for various reasons, are not held responsible for their alleged crimes by civil authorities. They argue that the church has more control over these men when they are still priests.

In Archbishop McCarrick’s case, Pope Francis ordered him to a life of prayer and penance last summer, and he has since stayed out of the public eye. If he is laicized, the church has less control over his actions and he is free to do as he wishes.Though unlikely, there is also the possibility that the former cardinal could cause further trouble for the church.

Even if he were dismissed from the clerical state, Archbishop McCarrick would technically remain a priest and a bishop. According to Catholic teaching, ordination, like baptism, is indelible and cannot be reversed. That means even if he is laicized, the former archbishop could celebrate Mass and he could even ordain men as priests and bishops. Though he would be creating schism, the ordinations would nevertheless be considered valid.

Would the dismissal of Archbishop McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop, be unprecedented?

Yes and no. There have certainly been other bishops dismissed from the clerical state by the Vatican.

Most recently, Pope Francis last October dismissed from the clerical state two retired Chilean bishops for crimes related to the sexual abuse of minors. Josef Wesolowski, a former archbishop who once served as the papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic, was dismissed from the clerical state in 2014 after facing allegations of sexual abuse against a minor. And in 2012, Raymond Lahey, a retired Canadian bishop, was laicized after being charged with possession of child pornography.

But Archbishop McCarrick’s former status as a cardinal makes his case relatively unique.

Perhaps the most similar case involves Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the former archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh who died in 2018. Cardinal O’Brien resigned his post in 2013 after allegations surfaced that he sexually assaulted priests and seminarians. Two years later, Cardinal O’Brien effectively resigned from the College of Cardinals, giving up the ability to vote in a papal conclave. But unlike Archbishop McCarrick, the former de facto leader of the church in Scotland retained the title of cardinal and he was not dismissed from the clerical state.

Another similar case is Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, an Austrian archbishop who in the 1990s was accused of sexually abusing minors. In 1998, Pope John Paul II asked the ailing cardinal to step down from his official duties, but the cardinal never admitted any guilt and unlike in Archbishop McCarrick’s situation, he was not punished by church authorities. He died in 2003.

Does this mean the McCarrick saga has come to an end?Doubtful.

While the Vatican is certainly eager to bring this sad chapter to a close, there are still many unanswered questions about how a priest accused of sexual misconduct was able to ascend to the highest levels of power in the Catholic Church.

Controversial allegations levied by former the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, suggesting that many current cardinals and archbishops, as well as Pope Francis, knew about Archbishop McCarrick’s past behavior but did nothing to punish him, have gone mostly unanswered. (While some of Archbishop Viganò’s claims have been shown to be correct, others related to Archbishop McCarrick, including alleged sanctions placed on him by Pope Benedict XVI and allegedly removed by Pope Francis, appear dubious.)

A book due to be published later this month claims to reveal the double lives of cardinals, especially those who engage in homosexual activity. In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy could raise additional questions about Archbishop McCarrick’s past and the church leaders who allegedly protected him.

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