I’m almost certain that as you read the headline of this blog, your mind immediately goes to political Washington, whether it be the Trump White House, the “contentious” Congress, or the latest sad debacle called “confirmation hearings” for the next Supreme Court justice. I’m not going there.
My concern today is about what is happening in ecclesiastical Washington. We all know about disgraced Archbishop Theodore McCarrick who served as archbishop of Washington from 2001 until 2006. I say we know all about him, but no doubt there is much more to sort through and disclose, if we can stomach it! According to a report from Catholic News Agency, McCarrick “has begun his life of prayer and penance at St. Fidelis Capuchin Friary in Victoria, Kansas, according to statements from the Diocese of Salina and the Archdiocese of Washington.”
Then there’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is mentioned repeatedly in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on sex abuse in his role as Bishop of Pittsburgh before he became archbishop of Washington. He was recently in Rome waiting on Pope Francis to take action on his letter of resignation which he submitted when he turned 75.
A personal note before I go further, Charlotte and I have a special place in our hearts for the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. We have made two trips to the Basilica that played a major role in our journey into the Catholic Church.
The Basilica in many ways is the national parish of the Catholic Church in the United States. It is there that popes have visited, it is there that the funeral Mass of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was celebrated. This weekend a group of our parishioners will be joining others from the diocese of Camden for a Marian pilgrimage to the Basilica with the opportunity to see the new Trinity dome mosaic.
As a couple we have financially supported the ministry of the Basilica and have been encouraged by the prayers that have been offered up for our intentions from the Basilica. And yet my heart is heavy as I read that the wound that was opened with McCarrick continues to ripple out for miles around his places of influence in Washington and New Jersey. I will link here to an article by Anne Hendershott of the National Review and allow you to read and discern. I plan to write the rector of the Basilica, who was appointed by McCarrick to that position, and ask for some answers before I send any more support to a place I love. That will be my small part besides prayer in calling our spiritual fathers to lead us in accountability and holiness.
It is fitting on this feast of St Francis of Assisi to ask ourselves how we will respond to Christ’s call to rebuild his Church “which had fallen into ruin.”
And of course, as in the case of St. Francis who sought to rebuild the local Church of St. Damiano that was in ruins, our call is bigger than our local parish or the Basilica, though both are extremely important, Christ wants to restore his Church which has fallen into ruin.
St. Francis pray for us!