As the Harvey Weinsteins preyed upon young starlets in Hollywood, so too did the likes of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prey upon vulnerable seminarians.
The #MeToo movement in corporate America and #CatholicMeToo in the Catholic Church have two things in common: abuse of healthy adults by those who controlled their future and a systemic cover-up of such abuse by those closely associated with the abusers.
Neither movement was sparked by widespread abuse of children or of dysfunctional adults. Movie producers in Hollywood took advantage of actors much like priestly formators in seminaries took advantage of their seminarians.
The Catholic hierarchy, however, seems oblivious to this type of vulnerability. The typical definition on a diocesan website reads like this: “A vulnerable adult is a person over the age of 18 whose ability to perform normal activities of daily living is impaired due to a mental, emotional, long-term physical or developmental disability or dysfunction, or brain damage, or the infirmities of aging.”
Church leaders are not only refusing to classify healthy seminarians as “vulnerable adults” but they’re also refusing to investigate the cover-up of homosexual predation on these vulnerable men perpetrated specifically by those in power over them.
Church Militant reported on last Thursday’s meeting between Pope Francis and U.S. bishops. Two cardinals and one archbishop asked for the necessary papal permission to launch a full investigation into the cover-up of McCarrick’s rise to power that occurred in the sight of many Church leaders, who knew of his long-term homosexual abuse of seminarians.
They also wanted to investigate the claims made by Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò that the cover-up went all the way to the Vatican, even to Pope Francis himself. According to Church Militant’s sources, the Pope told them there will be no investigation.
Without acknowledging the fact that seminarians are made vulnerable by a power differential existing between them and those in charge of their formation, and without investigating the actual cover-up that enabled such men to be victimized for generations, there’s little hope that this grave situation will be corrected.
Chicago’s Cdl. Blase Cupich was spot-on last month when he stated: “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”