By George Neumayr
Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout will head up of all things the bishops’ child protection committee.It is impossible to overstate the tone-deafness of America’s Catholic bishops in recent years. They seem determined to give the Catholic Church a black eye. The Theodore McCarrick scandal — he was a prominent cardinal in Washington, D.C., who preyed on boys, seminarians, and priests in plain sight for decades — marks one of the lowest points in the history of the Church. In light of that, wouldn’t the bishops want to avoid any and all associations with McCarrick’s memory? Moreover, is it really too much for the faithful to expect his cronies and protégés (whom McCarrick called his “nephews”) to disappear from positions of power?
Since this Knestout matter has received little attention from the media and ecclesiastical bigwigs, the bishops can cynically slide on it.
Apparently, that is too much to expect from the pitiful bishops and derelict Vatican. Almost all of McCarrick’s “nephews” continue to enjoy substantial influence in the Church. Two of the cardinals closest to McCarrick, Blase Cupich in Chicago and Joseph Tobin in Newark, serve as America’s chief bishop-makers on a Vatican board. Cupich and Tobin have paid no price for their prominent association with McCarrick. If anything, it appears to have aided their ascent in the Church. That also holds true for Cardinal Robert McElroy who received a red hat despite his history of stonewalling for McCarrick. (The late psychotherapist Richard Sipe confronted McElroy with evidence of McCarrick’s misconduct and McElroy blew Sipe off.)
In a scarcely believable move earlier this month, the American bishops named Barry Knestout, a former secretary to McCarrick, as the head of their child protection committee. That’s like making a former Jeffrey Epstein secretary the head of New York’s human trafficking agencies.
I nearly dropped my computer after reading that Knestout had snagged that post. I remember him from my days covering Cardinal Donald Wuerl and his sinister maneuverings. Knestout was one of Wuerl’s vicious henchmen. Knestout once threatened to unleash the police on me for exposing Wuerl’s opulent lifestyle. After I discovered that Wuerl lived in a palatial Embassy Row penthouse worth tens of millions and reported my findings, Knestout sent me a threatening letter. He warned me that my investigative journalism could result in police action. The letter struck me as odd and exceedingly creepy. Since when, I wondered, had conventional investigative journalism become a crime? A source told me later that Knestout’s fear was that I might go through Wuerl’s trash. Apparently, archdiocesan officials saw me through a security camera near the garbage bins and jumped to an erroneous conclusion. Rifling through his trash hadn’t even occurred to me, but after that source apprised me of Knestout’s panic I wondered what detritus of Wuerlian evil could have been found in it.
Needless to say, Knestout ran similarly creepy interference for McCarrick, Wuerl’s predecessor. Knestout was so proud of his ruthless work for “Uncle Ted” that he incorporated a tribute to McCarrick in his ecclesiastical coat of arms after he became bishop of Richmond, Virginia. That plum assignment was tossed to Knestout by Wuerl, who served as a bishop-maker on the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, in gratitude to Knestout for his many years of doing the gay mafia’s dirty work. As Knestout explained at his January 2018 installation, he adopted on his coat of arms the image of a golden lion from McCarrick’s coat of arms to honor his service to him — a part of his slithery climb to the top of the Church about which he never speaks these days.
The compliant establishment Catholic media will, of course, avert its gaze from this outrageous scandal. But the faithful shouldn’t. Lay Catholics should call up the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and demand an explanation as to why the bishops think it a good idea to make a protégé of a rapist the head of their child protection committee. What exactly are Knestout’s qualifications for the job? That he feigned ignorance of McCarrick’s predations for years, thereby leaving countless altar boys, seminarians, and priests vulnerable to his molestation? This is beyond pathetic. Woe to those, said Jesus Christ, who expose children to scandal. He told his first bishops, the twelve disciples, that if they scandalized children they would deserve to be thrown to the bottom of the sea with a millstone around their necks.
Since this Knestout matter has received little attention from the media and ecclesiastical bigwigs, the bishops can cynically slide on it. They won’t remove him from the post until media and ecclesiastical fury grow. Will it? Probably not. Secular journalists typically protect Pope Francis sycophants, of which Knestout is one, and few bishops seem to care about the corruption of children.
The bishops know perfectly well that children are subject to heresy and scandal every day in lousy diocesan schools, and they take almost no action, as long as the Church faces no legal liability from such misconduct. Out of this complacent mindset came the Knestout appointment to the bishops’ absurdly titled “committee on protection of children and young people.” A more honest name for it would be the committee to expose children to perverts and heretics.