The Celebrity Priest and Cardinal McCarrick

June 24, 2018

In his American Conservative piece (1) on the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick story, "the worst-kept secret," slow in coming with a lot more to come, Rod Dreher uncovers an intriguing related story in one short paragraph:

How did McCarrick find out [that an allegedly-harassed priest told a third party]? It turned out that the priest who tipped me off had only told his spiritual adviser, a well-known conservative cleric, who had almost certainly called McCarrick. My informant -- remember, this was early 2002 -- was still under the naive impression that you could tell the good guys from the bad guys in the Catholic scandal based on where they lined up theologically. Not true!

Having learned of the seminarian's disclosure from this "well-known conservative cleric"/"spiritual adviser," McCarrick, according to Dreher, contacted "a closeted gay man, someone whose name you would know." This latter, apparently a person of influence, contacted Dreher's employer and attempted to get Dreher pulled off the story. Dreher was allowed to keep digging, but he could not get any allegedly harassed seminarians to go on record with their names, nor did his employer have the resources to poke around public-record files in New Jersey courthouses.

Those who did have the resources, Dreher laments, "turned a blind eye" to the story. They turned such an eye because of the demographic of molesters. Remember back to the year following the "Long Lent of 2002" when the scandals of molestation-by-priests were all over the news. Then suddenly these stories went away. The media realized that these crimes were being committed by members of one of their cherished groups. This particular group is well-represented in media organizations.

But back to this related, yet-to-be-pursued story of the "well-known conservative cleric"/"spiritual adviser" who ratted on the seminarian to McCarrick. Who was the "well-known conservative cleric"/"spiritual adviser"?

Was his discussion about McCarrick with the seminarian undertaken with the seminarian's expectation of complete confidence? Was it even part of CONFESSION?

Anyone who has been observing the players in the Catholic church around Washington, DC for the past 25 years can make a pretty good guess.

I am not mentioning any names here, but for many years, there was a priest who was conservative and "well-known." He was known for bagging converts from the herd of influential, including a senator and an atheist journalist. Indeed it was impressive to see a senator attending weekday Mass when "nobody was looking."

This priest was a member of one of the parallel churches who prefers the wealthy and powerful. There are two such parallel churches at work in the Washington, DC area. After I brought up this priest and his institute's preferential option for the wealthy on a web posting, the priest sent me an angry email describing that his curriculum vitae through Ivy League schools and power centers had also done a loop through a mission for poor Spanish-speakers.

I later learned that when a parallel church operates missions to the poor, it's a gimmick for attracting more of the rich. Being missionaries makes affluent youngsters feel good and holy and their parents sure of their preservation from worldly corruption. Mission-work also enables the parallel church to discern who's good at following orders, being manipulated and becoming parallel church apparatchiks.

The next identifying mark is "spiritual adviser." Parallel churches really push "advice" from spiritual "advisers," "directors," "guides." The term varies. While in this case the spiritual adviser was a priest, parallel church spiritual advisers can be laypeople, men and women, some recent converts, some even divorcees.

There is a reason the late Mother Angelica made a face whenever callers-in talked about going to a spiritual director. Catholic laypeople do not need spiritual directors. The ones who seek them are the types who, if they weren't Catholic, would be running to therapists (or psychics) over every little thing.

Parallel church spiritual-advice consists in a) gaining personal and financial information from the advisee and b) advising the advisee to give money to the parallel church. This is why the fitness of the adviser doesn't matter. If the advisee can't give money, she can give her work cheap or her body in some kind of arrangement that enables her to think she's a bride of Christ yet wear nice clothes, jewelry and swill margaritas with the gals.

There is no seal of confession of spiritual direction. This brings us to the next question about our "well-known conservative cleric"/"spiritual adviser":

Was his discussion about McCarrick with the seminarian undertaken with the seminarian's expectation of complete confidence? Was it even part of CONFESSION?

Finally, why would a conservative priest, one of the supposed "good guys" when it comes to molestation, play stoolie to a bishop?

One possible motive was to curry favor with that bishop. Parallel churches crave the approval or bishops and popes. It gives the parallel churches legitimacy and free reign. Usually they just buy the legitimacy by tossing gobs of their money at the diocese (or Vatican officials). Perhaps the "well-known conservative cleric" was trying to minimize overhead with a mutual back-scratching deal.

More likely the priest was simply horrified that a seminarian would criticize a superior. Among parallel churchies, criticizing "holy priests" is the worst crime and sin on earth. Parallel churches were cults founded by creeps (all of whom are of the same ethnic background). One of the ways the creeps controlled followers was to forbid them from saying anything negative about the leaders. That abhorrence is part of the cult software that continues to run even after the founders are long dead and the parallel churches try to pretend that they are new and improved.

Given their distorted comprehensions of gossip and detraction, parallel churches cannot be trusted to report or otherwise deal with priest molesters.

About ten years ago, the one who is possibly the "well-known conservative cleric"/"spiritual adviser" unexpectedly abdicated the limelight in DC. He has been little-heard-from since. There was mention of illness, but gratuitous lying is also part of the parallel-church culture.

Frankly, I don't think that the McCarrick story and its tangents are going to grow legs and that much more public-record information will be forthcoming. The media is not interested in highlighting the villainies of the inverted. As shown (once again) in this sidebar to the McCarrick story, conservative Catholic celebrities cannot be trusted and will use their influence for themselves and their cronies rather than for the good of the church.


(1) Dreher, Rod, Church: Cardinal McCarrick Is A Molester,, June 20, 2018.

For Further Reading

Parallel Churches and The Benedict Option: My Experience With Cult-like Institutes in Washington, DC

About Neal J. Conway