On June 20, 2018, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, one of the top Catholic prelates in the United States, was removed from ministry by the Vatican because of credible allegations that he had abused a 16 year old boy while a priest in New York (Chicago Tribune). At first, I did not give the story much notice. It was something that happened decades ago, and I knew that the Catholic Church in the United States had taken great measures since the scandals of 2002 to make sure these kind of things did not happen again. However, in the weeks that followed, more of the story came out. We learned about how McCarrick was a known sexual abuser of seminary students, but since they weren’t minors, nothing was done about it, and McCarrick rose in the ranks of the Catholic hierarchy.
On August 25, Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, former Papal Nuncio (ambassador) to the United States, released the first of a series of letters implicating Pope Francis and other high ranking hierarchs of enabling a network of clergy to engage in immoral lifestyles with impunity. As I saw all of this, I came to believe that there was a connection between the sexual abuse of minors, sexual abuse of adults, sexual immorality between consenting adults, twisting and changing of traditional Catholic teaching, and the abuse and change of the traditional Catholic liturgy. I saw some of the same people who want to change the liturgy also wanting to change doctrine and be lax about morality. In a recent interview, Abp. Viganò said that the Church had been infiltrated, and referred to the book Infiltration by Dr. Taylor Marshall, which I read last summer. Seeing a reference to this book after I have had a few months to reflect on it, has inspired me to write about my thoughts on this topic of infiltration.
Dr. Marshall carefully documents evidence that Freemasons in the 19th century realized they could not take down the Catholic Church by force. They saw the Church as a major obstacle to their goal of creating a universal brotherhood of man not separated by religious creed, so they planned to infiltrate the Catholic Church in order to change it from within from obstacle to advocate. Dr. Marshall documents warnings from Popes about Freemasonry and infiltration, and includes corroborating messages from mystic visionaries about this danger. Although Dr. Marshall does not provide absolute proof that such an infiltration did take place, he shows that somehow much of the Catholic Church does now conform to what the Freemasons wanted, as is evidenced by the working document (Instrumentum Laboris) for the Synod on the Pan-Amazon region. This document is characterized more by a pan-theistic nature religion rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether or not Freemasons and/or Communists infiltrated the Church, we can see that Satan has somehow turned many leaders in the Church away from the Gospel.
Dr. Marshall ends his book with a discussion of what Catholics should do in light of this likely infiltration. He makes a very good argument that what we should not do is leave the Church, which remains the means of salvation in spite of whatever rottenness may infect it. The Church has always carried the treasure of the Gospel in earthen vessels, and throughout her 2000 year history has suffered scandals and betrayals, beginning with the betrayal of Judas and the denial of St. Peter. Instead, Dr. Marshall says we should stay in the Church, resist the error and stand for the truth.
At this point, I want to talk about how we should resist or otherwise respond to this crisis. I recently received this timely quote from Cardinal Sarah taken from his new book, The Day Is Now Far Spent.
Given the surge of sins in the ranks of the Church, we are tempted to try to take things into our own hands. We are tempted to try to purify the Church by our own strength. That would be a mistake. What would we do? Form a party? A movement? That is the most serious temptation: the showy disguise of division. Under the pretext of doing good, people become divided, they criticize each other, they tear each other apart. And the devil snickers. He has succeeded in tempting good people under the appearance of good. We do not reform the Church by division and hatred. We reform the Church when we start by changing ourselves! Let us not hesitate, each one in his place, to denounce sin, starting with our own.
It is easy to get so outraged by the sin and error of others that we ignore our own faults. I believe God will intervene at some point, and we want to make sure we are not part of the problem when he does. We must make judgments about right doctrine and morality, but we must be very careful about making judgments regarding people. We can judge their words and their actions, but only God knows the state of their souls. Christians of good will are trying to find the right course in life, and the deceits of the devil are clever and insidious. No one has gone through life unscathed, so we shouldn’t pigeon-hole someone based on something they said or did in the past.
Each of us in the Body of Christ has different gifts, and we are at different stages in our journey through life. Some things that seem obvious to some of us don’t make sense to others. Some of us are primarily concerned about purity of conduct, some about true doctrine, and others about outreach to the needy. All of these things are part of the Church, but we don’t all see them equally. Something that I see very clearly might be a blind-spot for someone else, but that doesn’t make him the enemy. He may in turn be on the right-track in another area that is a blind-spot for me.
Therefore, while we should all do our best to stand firm in the truth, we need to be charitable with those with whom we disagree. We need to speak the truth in love and also be open to correction, all the time praying for each other. We must especially respect the office of the clergy and pray for them. Don’t divide up the Church into good guys and bad guys. We must remember that “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).