I talk to Catholics across the country all day, every day. That’s my job. It seems evident to me that the American hierarchy is facing a crisis exceeding in magnitude any other in recent memory. Those who understand that will lead people to Jesus. Those who don’t will not.
I had not intended to post another Catholic scandal item today, but then I saw the above tweet by J.D. Flynn, and, given Flynn’s reputation and his position as editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency, I had second thoughts. That J.D. Flynn believes this is big news, I believe. And for me personally, it’s a strange feeling to observe that the same sense that overtook me around 2005, and led to me leaving the Catholic Church, seems to be arising more generally.
Looking back on it, it was not sexual abuse by priests that caused me to lose my Catholic faith. It was the chronic lying and deceptive actions by bishops, and the inescapable conclusion that they could not be trusted to reform the Church. I knew back then that a lot of them were gay and personally compromised — McCarrick first among them — and that the “good bishops” — those who actually believed what the Catholic Church taught, and who lived chastely and celibately — were ultimately never going to criticize their brother bishops or take any risks to talk openly and frankly about the crisis. I was faced with the unavoidable conclusion that nothing serious was going to change in the Church, and that I had to accept that as a Catholic.
The laity, by and large, did not care. They were satisfied to believe the bishops’ reassurances that they (the bishops) were on top of things, and were leading the Church to a better place. If I was going to stay Catholic, I had to get to a place inside myself where I could live with that. I tried for a year after coming to the conclusion that the bishops were a hopeless case. Mind you, there was a lot going on inside me theologically then, and I was wrestling with all this in a context in which parish life was nothing but a Sacrament Factory. In the end, I reached the point where I simply could not accept that my eternal salvation meant being in communion with those bishops — and, in fact, given how my own anger at the lies and the injustice was eating me away inside, my salvation might depend on breaking that communion.
I’m not interested in arguing with anybody today on the theological errors I may have made there (so don’t even try posting on that; I won’t approve those comments). I’m speaking here to how emotionally overwhelming it is to realize that the bishops of one’s church are so out of touch with what it ought to mean to be a decent Christian, and to come to believe that there is no lie that they will not tell — either by commission or omission — to protect their status.
I remember walking through Manhattan with a priest friend in 2002, as the scandal was raging nationwide. I asked him how the Catholic bishops could have done the things they did, and how is it that they don’t react like ordinary Christians, when confronted with the horrors of priest sex abuse and clerical sexual corruption. He said ruefully, “They don’t believe in God.” What he meant was that they believe in the Church — the Catholic institution — as an end in itself.
Along those lines, I have thought many times since then of something an old monsignor told a different priest friend as they observed a group of seminarians from their archdiocese headed off to Rome to study at the elite North American College: “Those poor boys. They leave here in love with Jesus, and they come home in love with the Church.”
Why do I bring this up here? Because if J.D. Flynn is right, the Catholic Church in the US may be sitting on a bubble that’s about to pop. I was a fervent Catholic who understood something of theology. My theological convictions, and my reason, was like a shark cage that allowed me to observe the evil within the Church from a safe remove. Eventually, though, the beast tore through the bars, and devoured me. If that can happen to me, it could happen to a lot of people. Their theology, their family traditions, those might give them the strength to hold on despite the revelations to come. But I wouldn’t count on it.
Believe it or not, as a former Catholic, that grieves me. It honestly does. I had to get to a place where I quit feeling responsible for fixing what was wrong in the Catholic Church before I could regain my love for what is good and holy and beautiful in it. It took cutting myself off from its bishops to do so. Based on what I’ve seen and heard, my fear is that Catholics who walk away from their Church will not go into Orthodoxy, as I have done (with gratitude to God for the gift), or into some form of Protestantism, but will be lost to Christianity forever. I was on an Evangelical radio show yesterday in Pittsburgh, and the hosts took pains to say that none of us Christians should be gloating or feeling triumphalist about the agonies of our Catholic brothers and sisters. No decent Christian is taking pleasure in any of this. The stakes are eternal.
The Catholic laity seems to be stirring in the face of the McCarrick scandal, waking up to the inability of their bishops to comprehend the magnitude of this crisis, much less act to solve it. These two interviews this week with top cardinals — Daniel DiNardo, head of the USCCB, and Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington — are two real “let them eat cake” moments that reveal the incapacity of the Church’s aristocratic class to comprehend the reality of their own positions:
Watch those clips, and you’ll see two princes of the Church who are utterly clueless.
I’m seeing more and more Catholic bishops issuing statements about McCarrick, and more and more Catholic laity saying, “Sorry, not good enough.” For example, Bishop William Wack of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee issued this public statement about McCarrick. John Schwenkler, an academic philosopher who lives and teaches in that diocese, responded with a letter to the bishop, which he also posted publicly. Excerpt:
Something big is coming. J.D. Flynn sees it. If the media — the mainstream media, or the alternative media — start digging into the gay networks within the Church, which is unavoidable if you want to understand how Theodore McCarrick gained power and maintained it for so long, the bishops are going to be badly exposed. What happens after that, God only knows. The only thing protecting the US bishops now is the fact that the mainstream media is (so far) avoiding that story, and most Catholic laity aren’t fully aware of Cardinal McCarrick and what his disgrace means.
Maybe they’ll get away with it again. Maybe.
UPDATE: I just received a report on the big meeting that Lincoln Bishop James Conley had with parishioners in Wahoo, Nebraska, last night, in the wake of his removing Father Charles Townsend from active ministry. Townsend had spent a decade as the pastor in that town before moving to a parish in Lincoln, from which he was just removed after an incident involving alcohol and an underage drinker came to light.
My source said the crowd at the church last night was big and very hostile to the bishop — for what he did to poor Father Townsend! I’m told that the crowd’s overwhelming sentiment was that Bishop Conley unfairly attacked a good priest for what they consider to be a minor incident. Source says that Father Townsend has written privately to some of his former parishioners saying he did nothing wrong.
One man in the audience stood and asked Bishop Conley to confirm or deny that within the last 12 months, an active Lincoln priest had come forward to tell him (the bishop) that Monsignor Kalin had molested him. According to my source, the bishop remained silent, but the man persisted in his questioning. The bishop said no, that didn’t happen.
If anybody else was at that meeting and cares to share their perspective, please post it in the comments.
I am very troubled by the reported response from the audience (assuming that it was reported accurately). Troubled, but not quite surprised. If the Catholic bishops are in crisis, so too are the laity, it seems to me. As I wrote above, back during the first round of scandal (2002-2007), I became discouraged because so many of the laity didn’t seem to know what was going on, or want to know. True, there were plenty of Catholic laity who were angry over it and didn’t know what to do about it, but I was misled by the fact that my personal circles were filled with Catholics who were and are really engaged with their faith and the Church. I couldn’t figure out why the bishops were getting away with it when so many laypeople were angry at them.
Eventually I came to realize that most of the laity really didn’t care. The scandal was something that happened to Other Parishes. There were some cases where bishops had removed corrupt priests, and faced a buzzsaw of anger from parishioners who loved that priest. The truth, I came to believe, is that most ordinary Catholics are happy with the way things are, and don’t want the boat rocked.
This is not just a Catholic thing. This is human nature. People in dysfunctional families will go to great lengths to avoid seeing the dysfunction, or to deny it outright, because they fear that admitting that it’s there will bring the entire structure that gives their lives meaning crashing down. This is why bishops lied for decades about molesting priests: “for the good of the Church.” This is why some good Catholics today would prefer not to talk about ugly truths about clerical corruption: they are afraid that people will lose their faith.
But if one’s faith depends on avoiding painful truths, how strong is that faith, anyway?
Here’s the thing: overall, the faith of the coming generation of American Catholics is extraordinarily weak. All Christian churches in the US are in trouble on this point, but Catholics are especially vulnerable. The kind of go-along-to-get-along Catholicism that stands by good ol’ father because he’s a hale fellow who enjoys having a beer with folks, who gives chipper sermons, and who oversaw the construction of a new gym, out of which the team won the state basketball championship — that kind of Catholicism is going to be gone within a generation. The young are simply going to fade away.
Why? Because there is nothing to keep them there. The content of the religion itself has been hollowed out by decades of dull sermons and poor catechesis, both in parishes and in Catholic schools. Far too many Catholic families have not practiced the faith diligently in their own homes, having outsourced it to the parish and to Catholic schools (Christian Smith, the Notre Dame sociologist who studied this problem — see the link in the previous paragraph — said families are the most important factor in whether or not the faith is passed on to the next generation). Those who hold on in spite of all this have to do so despite the fact that they are marginalized in many parts of the Church, precisely because of their orthodoxy. And now they’re going to be asked to deal with coming revelations about the episcopate that are going to shake them.
If you are Catholic, and want to stay Catholic, and want your children to stay Catholic, prepare for this time of great trial. In The Benedict Option, I wrote:
Leaving Norcia and going back down the mountain, a pilgrim might envy the monks the simplicity of their lives in the quiet village. The serenity and solidity of Norcia and its Benedictines seem so far from the tumultuous world below, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you miss it before you’ve even reached the train station in Spoleto. But if you have received the gift of Norcia rightly, you do not leave empty-handed and unprepared for what lies ahead.
For the brothers and fathers there will have given you a glimpse of what life together in Christ can be. They will have shown you that traditional Christianity is not dead, and that Truth, Beauty, and Goodness can be found and brought to life again, though doing so will cost you nothing less than everything. And they will have shared their ancient teaching, tendered by the hands of monks and nuns from generations of generations for a millennium and a half—wisdom that can help ordinary believers, doing battle in the modern world, not only hold firm through the new Dark Age but actually to flourish in it.
How do we take Benedictine wisdom out of the monastery and apply it to the challenges of worldly life in the twenty-first century? It is to this question that we now turn. The way of Saint Benedict is not an escape from the real world but a way to see that world and dwell in it as it truly is. Benedictine spirituality teaches us to bear with the world in love and to transform it as the Holy Spirit transforms us. The Benedict Option draws on the virtues in the Rule to change the way Christians approach politics, church, family, community, education, our jobs, sexuality, and technology.
And it does so with urgency. When I first told Father Cassian about the Benedict Option, he mulled my words and replied gravely, “Those who don’t do some form of what you’re talking about, they’re not going to make it through what’s coming.”
Take this seriously, please. Read Leah Libresco’s brand-new book Building The Benedict Option for practical advice from one of the brightest young lights of her Catholic generation. It is not enough to blame the bishops, however blameworthy they may be. It is not enough to blame the priests. It is not enough to blame the mediocrity of the laity. All of these things may be true, but let’s be real: nobody is going to come save you and your family. Use this time of purification to go deeper into your faith, where Jesus Christ is. If you compromise with serious sin for the sake of peace of mind, you will, in the end, lose both your faith and your peace of mind.
Don’t want to believe me, a muckraking former Catholic? None other than Father Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, predicted all this in 1969. The entire prophecy is here. Excerpt:
The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves. To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered. If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are!
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.
Ratzinger is talking about Catholicism, but I believe this is true of all Christianity in the West. The peace you see around you is a false peace, and it is coming to an end. The Catholic Church, like all churches in the West today, may face persecution by the State, but it has far, far more to fear from corruption within itself.
UPDATE.2: A long e-mail from a parish priest, with some sharp words, including for me:
I would just like to offer some thoughts to you two points you seem to keep noting; the supposed apathy of the laity and the response of the bishops these scandals.
1. The Laity who “don’t care”
As of yet no one is talking about it in my parish or any laity I am affiliated with. This is true of other priests I know. What I am seeing is that there is a disparity between professional bloggers and regular Catholics. Most people don’t read blogs and spend time on Catholic websites. So everything you, and others, have been talking about is completely unknown to them. I would say it’s less than 1% of Catholics.
Your continued general conclusion is that Catholics don’t care. That may account for some of the people, but that’s a simplistic conclusion. I think it’s quite possible that most Catholics don’t know.
I have also heard from laity that it’s not that they don’t care about scandals it’s that they no longer care about bishops. After 2002 bishops decided that they needed to listen to lawyers and insurance companies when making decisions about their priests and laity. In doing so they lost most of their spiritual credibility because it became clear that they were focused on protecting the Church first. They were more interested in protecting property, finances and reputation. In doing so many good laity and priests have been treated poorly, not because they abused anyone, but in the name of liability they have been treated so severely that it has caused lasting damage. The damage is that of lost relationships. Bishops are not spiritual fathers or shepherds anymore, so why should laity or priests care about a gay bishop getting caught? I think many are saying something to the effect of, “karma is a bitch!” My point isn’t that people don’t care about the Church, it’s that they stopped caring about bishops long ago.
Another point is that we have become so inundated with sexual scandals in our culture that people have become numb to it. It’s everywhere, not just in the Church. The days of saying it’s a Church problem are clearly over. It’s not nearly as big of a scandal as it was in 2002.
People also know they cannot do anything. Period. All of the bloggers with their grand ideas notwithstanding. The laity cannot really do anything to reform the Church at the hierarchical level. The sooner everyone realizes this the better.
I think people are Catholic at the local level. Most people rarely consider the larger church. They engage Catholicism at their parish which is where they should be. And isn’t that what you espouse with the Benedict Option? That they should be engaging at the local level and supporting good priests and good Catholic community at the micro and not macro level? On one hand, Rod, you seem very upset that more Catholics are not railing for institutional change, on the other hand you are telling them to follow the Benedict Option. I think many Catholics go to Mass, say their prayers and are engaged in their faith at a personal level. But just because they are not calling for institutional change on Catholic blogs doesn’t mean they don’t care. Again, most of them probably don’t care about your blogs.
2. The bishops and their statements.
First of all they know they cannot do anything. No bishop or review board would ever have any power over another bishop. That power is reserved to the Holy See alone.
Bishops are equal. Look at DiNardo’s disaster of an interview to EWTN where he is trying to explain working with other bishops. I’m sure he isn’t that much of an idiot in real life. What he is probably trying to say is neither he nor the conference can make any other bishop do anything. And anything they decide regarding bishops would have to be approved by Rome, which may not happen. There’s actually a good chance it won’t happen.
I think a good dividing line between bishops’ statements are those who are calling for outside help and those who are not. The ones who think bishops can handle this problem themselves may want to hide something. The ones who have no problem calling for laity or a Vatican investigator likely have nothing to hide.
That being said, perhaps the best way to make sure an investigation does happen is to try to get the Vatican do it and not involve a lay board. Why? Because only the Holy Father has authority over bishops. Second, just because people are upset does not mean that the Church is going to change the way it governs. And why should it? Once you start catering to the mob you are going to have chaos. Further, bishops know they don’t really have to cooperate with a lay board because they wouldn’t have any real power over them. In that event bishops with something to hide could still do it to no real ill effect.
Another point, I think it’s just making things worse to be asserting that the hierarchy, en masse, doesn’t believe in God or is simply evil. How is that helpful? I understand how someone might say that as a joke, but I think it’s a ridiculous statement, in actuality. I bet McCarrick believes in God. I’m quite sure all of the bishops believe in God. But statements like that stem from this idea that the bishops don’t care about the Church or the people of God, which I just don’t think is the case. It’s not the most logical conclusion.
The most logical conclusion, it seems to me, is not that these men who have spent their lives serving people became corrupt and simply don’t care about people anymore. I think it’s more complex than that. Certainly, some may be compromised by their homosexuality. Some may want to change church teaching on that issue. Nothing new on either point there.
My assertion is that the most likely explanation for what we are seeing isn’t corruption, it’s incompetence. I don’t think they know what to do given their limitations canonically and civilly. A bishops’ conference cannot simply investigate brother bishops and determine who is and who is not morally corrupt. It’s not unlike being the pastor of a parish. If the neighboring pastor isn’t doing his job I can’t really do anything. The most I can do is either tell him to do his job (he may or may not listen to me) or I take it higher (they may or may not do anything). But that’s all I can do. It’s about the same with bishops. They have limitations.
3. How does reform actually happen?
Like it always has. It happens at the personal level, at the parochial level and, maybe, at the diocesan level.
For all the people clamoring about wanting priests to be holy, well what about you? Why don’t you try being holy and stop pointing fingers? By the way who in the Hell gave you the right to determine who is and who is not holy anyway? Many of the Catholic bloggers sound a lot like pharisees to me. Sexual abuse notwithstanding, priests are going to sin and sometimes sexually. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a chance to repent and reform their lives just like every other Catholic. There has never been a time in the Church when this dynamic was not the reality. The priesthood includes guys from as young as 30years old (who began seminary as young as 24 or so). There must be room for conversion of life and repentance from sin and this includes sexual sin. (Of course I am excluding abuse.)
Part of the problem today is this widespread rigorism that has crept into the Church. It has come back time and time again throughout the centuries and it has always been the enemy of the Church. Some of these bloggers would never have let St. Augustine or St. Peter into the priesthood. Since you rigorists are being so hard on priests, consider doing the same to the laity. Why not reveal publicly every couple who doesn’t fulfill the conjugal act according to their public vow? Or every married man who masturbates while looking at porn and violates his public vow? Every layman is called to the same standard as a priest. He is no different. A priest isn’t called to more and a layman called to less. They are called to the same standard. If we are going to reveal every sin of every priest let’s reveal every sin of every layman too! That’s where rigorism leads and that’s why it is the enemy of the Church.
At the parish level reform happens if you have a priest who seems to be someone you can rally around. If you think you have a good priest who is faithful then support him. Get involved in ministry, support the parish financially, help him make the parish successful. If the parish is successful other parishes will want to emulate it.
It is theoretically possible that reform could happen at the diocesan level. If the same conditions are being met by the bishop that would be met by a pastor. Thus, the same type of support could be given to such a bishop.
4. Can the laity effect change now?
Yes, they can. Here’s how they do it. It’s very simple. Stop giving money to any bishop’s campaign or national collection until Rome starts an investigation into the McCarrick situation.
1. When you tithe to your parish designate on your check or envelope that the money is reserved and to go to your building or maintenance fund.
What the bishops did to protect the diocesan and parish assets is they made each of the parishes their own corporations (not sure if all dioceses did this). In doing so it makes it much easier to donate directly to the individual corporation. If you simply donate in the collection plate and do not designate then the diocese will tax that money, but if you designate your gift and restrict it only to be used by the parish the diocese cannot legally touch it. But (to my knowledge) you must designate it to a particular function of the parish like a maintenance fund or even a particular ministry. Ask your pastor how to do this.
2. Stop giving to the bishop’s annual appeal. Send the request envelope back and state why you are not giving.
3. Stop giving to the second collections unless they go to your parish specifically (those are designated gifts). All of those second collections are national or diocesan. You may want to give to some that you really believe in, but if they go to diocesan offices (many do) then don’t give.
Consider how many ways bishops get your money:
They tax the parish between 6% and 13% from the collection plateThere is the annual bishop’s appeal
There are numerous Sunday second collections that go to diocesan offices
Bishops will also start large scale capital campaigns. If you look at where the money goes a large portion will often go to sustaining chancery services.
If you starve the bishops of cash they will change or you will render their influence far less effectual on the individual parishes. I think what we need to see is parishes with “good” priests and congregations having more power. Essentially the way to do that is to render the bishop as irrelevant as possible upon your parish.
I appreciate the words and the correction.
UPDATE.3: Peter Mitchell e-mails:
Rod, I was inspired to come forward with my August 1 essay about Monsignor Kalin’s abuse by a priest of the Lincoln Diocese who sadly was sexually molested when he was a seminarian by Monsignor Kalin in the shower. This past year, my priest friend courageously and painfully shared his story with me for the first time, and I know that he also courageously shared it with Bishop Conley for the first time. My priest-friend’s courage to break the “code of silence” surrounding Kalin’s abuse inspired me to do the same, knowing that I would be shouted down by many disbelieving people as a liar and a sinner. Whatever good fruit comes from my essay is the fruit of my priest-friend’s heroic courage. He is the reason I dared to speak, knowing as well that there are many others whom Kalin abused.
It is bewildering and frustrating to me to see that in its official statements, the Lincoln Diocese continues to say that there was only one allegation of misconduct brought against Kalin in 1998, and that this misconduct was addressed with Kalin while he was still alive, because I know that my friend only shared his story with Bishop Conley within the past twelve months. Apparently, last night at the “listening session” in Wahoo Bishop Conley again stated that there had never been any other allegation of abuse brought against Kalin.
The Diocese is evidently very afraid of the truth about Kalin ever coming out. But they have to realize that people know. Why are they continuing to be dishonest? This is now a world-wide crisis in the Church, and the crisis is that bishops — not priests — have been dishonest, evasive, and silent.
Bishop Conley, please tell us the truth. It will set you and many others free.
This is interesting. If former Lincoln priest Peter Mitchell is telling the truth, that means Bishop Conley was not telling the truth last night when he said that there were no allegations against Kalin. If there is a priest of Lincoln that came to Bishop Conley in the past year about Kalin, I hope he will find the courage to come forward.
UPDATE.4: Karl Keating comments:
1. In his autobiography, “The Church and I,” Catholic apologist Frank Sheed (who, with his wife, Maisie Ward, founded the publishing house Sheed & Ward), had a chapter titled “I Lose My Awe of Bishops.”
It was about the bishops of the 1930s. As a group, the American bishops weren’t too impressive a long lifetime ago, and the passing years didn’t improve them.
2. I don’t expect the withholding of donations to accomplish anything. Bishops have ways of getting around such things, which to them are mere inconveniences.
Even if diocesan funds plummet, the problem bishops won’t change because the problem, for them and for the abusive priests they protect, is homosexuality. They won’t care whether their dioceses have to cut back on construction projects, schools, and charitable outreaches. Above all, they will protect themselves and their favorite sins.
UPDATE.5: The priest in Update.2 writes more:
Some further thoughts on what Keating said. To expand a little bit.
What are people supposed to do if they can do precious little to change things? They want to support their church but they don’t want money going to the bishop. I gave a way to do it. Will cutting off money to the bishops make a difference? It might. Likely only if it is significant. Consider if a diocese takes 10% of a yearly collection of $1 million. If 30% of that money was redirected the diocese would see a drop of $30k. Let’s say there was a movement by the laity to make a statement this year on all bishop’s appeals and national collections not to give money until the Church reforms it’s hierarchy? And I mean all bishops and all dioceses. Pressure needs to be put on every diocese. So even the “good” bishops need to feel the pinch because that will motivate them to take action. Let’s say that 30% of the people get on board? If that many people decided not to give to the annual appeal you don’t think the bishops would care? On something like a $6 million appeal that would be $2 million. Most of that money goes to the chancery and supports the diocesan structure. If the bishop doesn’t get that money he has to start cutting staff. If the movement gets going big enough the bishop can sit alone in his chancery with his gay lover, but at that point who cares? The point is what can the laity do? Focus on what is possible as opposed to what is not.
Now the bishop could just take more from the parishes, unless that money is protected by being designated.
Extrapolate that 30% on a national level. Even 20% would make a huge statement. Now if the laity are truly as upset as everyone says they should be able to effect some kind of movement like this. If they cannot, then the laity aren’t really that upset. Given social media and how many Catholics have access to blogs and Catholic media there shouldn’t be any problem getting such a movement going. This is where I disagree with Keating. I think it would make an impact.
3. Not only should people stop giving bishops money. They should stop giving the “good” bishops money and they should stop going to their dinners and accepting their invitations, etc. until they call for an investigation into the McCarrick issue. The people in positions of influence need to desert their bishops, make them feel alone. Basically they need to shun their bishops. What is a bishop without a flock? What is a bishop who holds a fundraiser dinner that no one shows up to? Of course some people are always going to show up because they want to be close to the bishop, but people with money and influence need to shun their bishops, even if they like them until they bring about action in the McCarrick affair.
Finally, I think the reason more bishops aren’t speaking out publicly is because they don’t want the contagion of scandal to spread to their diocese. No one is talking about it and if they write a letter it will all of a sudden become news. I could be wrong but I just don’t see the laity upset at all. So until they get upset and do something this is going to be exactly what Wuerl said it is, a localized and specific scandal.