Saturday, September 1, 2018, #2
“Some enemy has done this.” —Jesus, telling the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, in Matthew 13:28. The expanded version: “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. So the servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘if you pull the weeds now, you might uproot the wheat with them.’ In our case, this parable relates to the story of Bella Dodd
Day #8: Tobin, McCarrick and Bella Dodd
The following report (below) has just appeared in the New Jersey Record, a newspaper in northern New Jersey, near the Catholic archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, where former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was archbishop, and where Cardinal Joseph Tobin is presently archbishop.
The account is fascinating, disturbing, and — for those who want a fuller picture of what has been going on — it deserves to be read.
It is also, however, extremely disappointing for Catholics to read such accounts about our bishops — so if you do not want to be disappointed, skip it.
But if you wish to catch a glimpse into what has been happening in our Church for the past 30 or 40 years — years of widespread cover-ups of abusive and immoral actions and activities — then this article is a good starting point.
How did this happen? An element for a thesis
Clearly, the recent Popes have all been in a situation which has been terrifically complicated and compromised, as the traditional teaching and discipline of the Church on these matters has diminished and unraveled.
There were many cases of abuse under Paul VI, John Paul II, and many under Benedict, which are now being revealed under Francis. So this did not all begin with Francis. In fact, the Church sowed the wind, and is reaping the whirlwind.
In seeking the remote causes of the present crisis, we should not forget the role of organized human actors.
That is, some of this is the result of a general “malaise,” an epochal apostasy from the faith, or of individual acts of corrupt individuals acting one by one out of various individual motives and compulsions — “miserie umane” they say in the Vatican — “human miseries.”
But there are indications of another strand in the fabric, a strand which is intentional and corporate.
That is — hypothetically — indications that there as been an intentional infiltration into the Church: an enemy of the Church, or a group of enemies, have acted according to a precise plan.
Is there really any serious evidence of this?
There is an affidavit that many people do know of, but one perhaps that many of you have never heard of, that is relevant: the testimony of a woman named Bella Dodd (1904-1969 — so, she died at the age of 65 almost exactly 50 years ago; Bella Dodd lost one of her legs in a tram accident in New York City when she was about 19 or 20, so she was a person profoundly familiar with human suffering; by the way, though she came to Amerca, she was born in Italy — “She was born in Picerno, Basilicata, Kingdom of Italy, in 1904 and baptized Maria Assunta Isabella”).
And Bella Dodd’s testimony in that signed affidavit is that, under instructions from the American Communist Party, of which she was a passionate and high-ranking member for many years, she had headed up a special operation to place 1,200 young men in seminaries, all of whom were agents of the Communist Party.
And this is what she said:
“In the late 1920s and 1930s, I personally put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to weaken the Catholic Church from within.
“The idea was for these men to be ordained and progress to positions of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops…
“Right now they are in the highest places where they are working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism.
“These changes will be so drastic that you will not even recognize the Catholic Church.
“Of all the world’s religions, the Catholic Church was the only one feared by the Communists, for it was its only effective opponent.
“The whole idea was to destroy, not the institution of the Church, but rather the faith of the people, and even use the institution of the Church, if possible, to destroy the faith through the promotion of a pseudo-religion.
“Something that resembled Catholicism but was not the real thing.
“Once the faith was destroyed, there would be a guilt complex introduced into the Church… to label the ‘Church of the past’ as being oppressive, authoritarian, full of prejudices, arrogant in claiming to be the sole possessor of truth, and responsible for the divisions of religious bodies throughout the centuries.
“This would be necessary in order to shame Church leaders into an ‘openness to the world,’ and to a more flexible attitude toward all religions and philosophies. The Communists would then exploit this openness in order to undermine the Church.” (taken from Dr. Bella Dodd, lecture at Fordham University in 1953)
Other Communists theoreticians of Dodd’s time, such as the brilliant Italian, Antonio Gramsci, also had the idea to weaken the Church as an effective fighter against communism.
This meant taking a slow path to infiltrate the Church and get Catholics to lose the faith little by little.
This plan was eventually called “Operation Outstretched Hand.”
More specifically, it was to promote a pseudo-religion, a fake Catholicism but with enough look and feel to seem real.
This plan would then introduce a guilt complex so that the Church would apologize for past activities, and then embrace other religions’ ideas as a way to get along.
Dr. Bella Dodd, before her conversion to Catholicism — she was converted in 1952 by Archbishop Fulton Sheen — helped get communist men to infiltrate the priesthood to move this plan along.
In this audio link, you will hear Dr. Dodd, a leader of the Communist Party of America (CPUSA) in the 1930’s and 1940’s. She explains what she did while working as a communist in the lecture from 1953 at Fordham University. (Note: the useful part of the video ends at the 8:30 mark; I find the rest of the video vulgar and do not recommend it.)
In 2000, Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel published a book entitled The Venona Secrets — Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors, published by Regnery Publishing, Inc., An Eagle Publishing Company, One Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Their research turned up archial material that confirmed the existence of an operation “Outstretched Hand” which included the infiltration of Communists into Roman Catholic Seminaries.
Now, Bella Dodd gave her testimony in the 1950s. It was the time of McCarthyism. There was a certain political fever that developed, an unreasoning fear of Communists “everywhere” which led to excesses like the “black-listing” of innocent people on unproven charges.
So, we may need to be a bit cautious about Bella Dodd and her testimony.
But we should at least know about it.
She testified under oath that she had placed these agents inside of the Church structure. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand — who is still alive in her 90s in New York City — has shown me personally the affidavit that Bella signed, saying that these statements were true. Dr. Hildebrand has told me that she and her late husband Dietrich von Hildebrand believed her testimony to be true.
So what are we to make of this?
Well, at the very least, it gives us a possible “element of interest” in order to trace back the “etiology,” the originating pathway followed by the “de-sacralizing” worldview that entered into the Church, at least in America, through Dodd’s work starting in the mid-1930s, whch, by various twists and turns, has brought us to the present moment of crisis, when this feverish disease must either be thrown off, or break the thermometer and kill the life of much of the Church, as occurred in North Africa after the Muslim conquests.
Here again is a link to the 1953 Fordham talk by Bella Dodd (link). I do not think you can begin to have a proper understanding about what has been happening without listening to this video.
The real issue is, is there a will and a desire to change? To return to the older ways, and teachings — the traditional faith and practice of Catholicism?
Tobin and McCarrick
And here is the article about the situation Cardinal Tobin faces in Newark, the archdioces where Theodore McCrrick was archbishop in the 1990s, before being promoted to Washington.
The story is a sad one, almost impossible to believe. But here it is.
The secret life of Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and reports of sex abuse (link)
By Mike Kelly, North Jersey Record
Published 8:00 a.m. ET Aug. 31, 2018 | Updated 3:56 p.m. ET Aug. 31, 2018
In these days when we are learning about all manner of shocking secrets within the Catholic Church, here is one from Newark’s Cardinal Joseph Tobin.
When Tobin arrived in Newark nearly two years ago to lead the city’s sprawling Catholic archdiocese — one of America’s largest with roughly 1.3 million parishioners — no one bothered to tell him that church lawyers had secretly arranged to pay $180,000 to settle two claims of sexual abuse against one of his predecessors, Theodore McCarrick.
Tobin said he learned of the settlements just before they were revealed in media reports in June.
“It’s embarrassing,” Tobin told me in a phone interview the other day. “I was really shocked.”
That’s an understatement.
Roman Catholicism was born amid secrets. The gospels are filled with numerous examples of Jesus telling his followers not to spread the news about him healing sick people or bringing the dead back to life. And during the church’s early years, keeping secrets about the identities of priests or meeting spots for worship became necessary for survival amid persecutions by Rome’s collection of self-indulgent emperors.
Those days are long gone. Today, the vast majority of Catholics no longer worry about being crucified, beheaded or burned at the stake for practicing their faith. But secrecy is still a guiding force in the church — especially now when it comes to the criminal scandals of sexual abuse by priests.
This is what Tobin is trying to fight. And if recent events are any indication, he faces a monumental task, starting with why he was never told about the legal settlements by two of McCarrick’s alleged victims.
In recent months, several men have come forward to say that McCarrick abused them as boys, mostly in New York. What concerns Tobin now is McCarrick’s alleged abuse of seminarians or even newly ordained priests in the Newark Archdiocese.
What McCarrick reportedly orchestrated was a classic power-sex set of relationships.
The seminarians or young priests were all beholden to McCarrick for their future careers, possibly even good assignments as priests at graduate schools.
Think of now-disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein manipulating young actresses into sleeping with him in order to gain roles in films, and you’ll get an idea of how this sort of creepy relationship works.
The key difference between McCarrick and Weinstein is that McCarrick was posing as a holy man who was a leader in a church that proclaimed a set of firm morals. Weinstein was just another Hollywood jerk.
Morals were little more than chess pieces in a game of life.
For years, McCarrick would reportedly invite seminarians to his beach house in Sea Girt — usually just five at a time.
The problem was that the house had only five beds in three bedrooms.
Two of the bedrooms were furnished with twin beds — enough for four visiting seminarians. The master bedroom had just one, double bed.
McCarrick slept on one side and ordered the fifth visiting seminarian to climb into bed next to him.
By the late 1990s – only years before McCarrick was promoted to the high-profile post of archbishop of Washington, D.C., where he was also made a church cardinal — the sleeping arrangements with seminarians had become a tawdry open secret among North Jersey’s Catholics.
Some priests and nuns apparently regularly discussed the rumors of the archbishop’s strange sleeping relationships with his favored seminarians.
One priest even phoned this columnist in 1998, asking for The Record to investigate McCarrick.
I remember responding by saying something like: “The archbishop is sleeping with seminarians? You’ve got to be kidding me.” I even added a colorful expletive, too. (Readers: feel free to use your imagination.)
This 1974 photo provided by a man who agreed to be identified only by his first name, James, shows him in California with Theodore McCarrick (on the left), a Roman Catholic priest who eventually became a cardinal. James says he was sexually abused for about two decades by McCarrick, who was removed from public ministry June 2018 over separate child abuse allegations.
(Photo: Family photo via AP)
McCarrick was seen as a savvy, articulate church leader.
He traveled the world and became closely tied to a variety of U.S. and international political leaders.
How could someone who seemed so smart be so stupid as to force seminary students to sleep with him?
Wasn’t McCarrick afraid of being caught?
Apparently not. With several reporters at The Record, I tried to check out the story – and promptly ran into the brick wall of silence.
It was akin to investigating the mob.
No seminarians would talk. Certainly McCarrick would not talk. Nor would any priests with direct knowledge of the escapades at the beach house.
Now that shocking, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me story is back in the news — with firm confirmations from Catholic leaders who apparently knew about McCarrick for years but never told their flocks.
It turns out that after McCarrick left Newark for Washington in 2000, at least two former seminarians filed legal claims against him. But those claims were settled in secret. Ordinary Catholic parishioners, who regularly drop cash into church collection baskets, were never told. Nor were front-line priests and nuns who have been valiantly serving the archdiocese for years.
After McCarrick was forced by the Vatican in June to resign his cardinal’s status and was barred from participating in public church services, Tobin says he was finally told about the secret legal settlements.
To his credit, Tobin ordered his staff to remove the cloak of secrecy and tell the general public.
But in announcing the news of the settlements, Tobin has re-focused attention — and legitimate questions — on the church’s penchant for secrecy whenever it is confronted with a sex abuse problem.
Tobin, 66, grew up in Detroit, the oldest of 13 children.
After joining the Redemptorists order of priests, who specialize in missionary work in non-developed nations, he spent much of his career traveling around the world.
When he was tapped to be a bishop, Tobin, who speaks five languages and has been known to spend his free time in lifting weights in a gym, quickly earned a reputation as something of a maverick reformer.
He led efforts to block Vatican conservatives who tried to crack down on American nuns who were showing their independence from old-line customs by shedding their bulky, medieval style of dress, returning to college and earning graduate degrees and then engaging in such radical, un-Christian pastimes as working with the poor, new immigrants and single moms.
A few years later, after being named archbishop of Indianapolis, Tobin defied then-Gov. Mike Pence’s anti-immigrant policies and helped Syrian war refugees resettle in Indiana.
When Tobin took over the Newark Archdiocese in 2017 as a newly appointed cardinal by Pope Francis, he was cast as a friendly, far more humble replacement for the retiring archbishop, John Myers.
For more than a decade, Myers was largely viewed as a dour, out-of-touch conservative who seemed more intent on condemning gay marriages than caring for Newark’s poor.
Myers, who replaced McCarrick in 2001 and reportedly preferred to be called “Your Grace” by priests, retired in 2016 to a lavish, 7,500-square foot mansion in Hunterdon County with $500,000 in renovations that included a whirlpool.
Tobin now has his own image problem to fight.
With the shocking news about McCarrick, who was Newark’s archbishop for 14 years before moving to Washington as a cardinal, Tobin has been thrust into the vortex of the church sex abuse crisis.
But the problem for Tobin is not that he tried to cover up sex abuse – an allegation that other church leaders now face, including Pope Francis.
For Tobin, the question is why he did not know about the misdeeds of McCarrick.
Was Tobin naïve? Out of touch? Too trusting of his aides?
In his phone conversation with me the other day, Tobin outlined his predicament, pausing often and punctuating many sentiments with exasperated exhaling.
Not only was he kept in the dark about the legal settlements on McCarrick’s behalf, but no one even bothered to sit him down and explain McCarrick’s alleged sleeping arrangements with the seminarians.
This is astonishing.
Imagine a new CEO taking over a corporation and not being told of a legal quagmire involving one of his predecessors.
Tobin told me that soon after arriving in Newark, he heard “rumors” about McCarrick’s beach house.
But he never bothered to check them out. He says he thought the story was too “incredulous” to believe.
“Shame on me that I didn’t ask sooner,” he now says.
Tobin is far too hard on himself.
Yes, he should have asked about the rumors of McCarrick’s beach house.
Yes, it’s hard to believe that as a high-ranking Catholic prelate that he never heard about those rumors before arriving in Newark.
And, yes, he should have been more savvy and curious about the secrets of church bureaucracy.
But why didn’t anyone in that church bureaucracy tell him about McCarrick?
At least one priest, the Rev. Boniface Ramsey, spoke up — or tried to.
Ramsey taught church art and history at the archdiocesan seminary at Seton Hall University during the 1980s and 1990s.
After seminarians told him about McCarrick’s beach house, Ramsey tried to investigate.
“It took me a while to digest it,” Ramsey told me when I telephoned him recently at St. Joseph’s church in Manhattan where is now pastor. “I talked to a priest friend. Everybody knew about the beach house.”
But Ramsey could never confirm the rumors.
Nonetheless, he said he complained about McCarrick in a 2000 letter to the Vatican ambassador in Washington, D.C.
He never got a response.
He complained again to New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan in 2004.
Ramsey said Egan brushed him off.
In 2015, Ramsey wrote to Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who had been tapped by the Vatican to look into Catholicism’s sex abuse scandal in America.
But Ramsey was never told if O’Malley looked into the matter.
Meanwhile, McCarrick is not talking. He reportedly is living in seclusion in the Washington area.
Looking back, Ramsey wonders now why people now seem so shocked about McCarrick.
“All you had to do was talk to me,” Ramsey said. “But this was suppressed.”
Tobin won’t go so far as to say the allegations about McCarrick were covered up. But he shares Ramsey’s sense of frustration.
“All I keep hearing is everybody knew,” Tobin said. “But if everybody knew, why didn’t someone speak up?”
Since then, Tobin said several priests have come forward to talk about McCarrick.
But if McCarrick was regularly inviting groups of five seminarians to his beach house during his tenure in Newark, it stands to reason that scores of seminarians had direct knowledge of what took place.
It also stands to reason that a large number of those seminarians became priests and are now serving parishes in North Jersey.
Why haven’t they spoken up? It’s time to break the code of silence.
Tobin said he plans to launch an internal investigation into why he wasn’t told about McCarrick’s alleged antics.
To help in this effort, he said he recently hired Kinsale Management Consultants, an investigative firm run by former FBI official Kathleen McChesney, to examine all of the archdiocesan files on sex abuse to determine if there are landmines.
For now, Tobin says he is trying deal with the imploding crisis that not only involves McCarrick but other reports of sexual abuse from a Pennsylvania grand jury report.
He promises transparency – surely a notable goal in a church that has lived with far too many secrets for too many years.
But Tobin knows what he faces.
“It’s a bit like being in the boxing ring with your hands tied behind your back and a blindfold over your eyes,” he said. “You’re not sure where the next punch is coming from.”
Tobin’s first task is to remove that blindfold of secrecy from his church.
After 2000 years, it’s time Catholicism opened its eyes.