Theodore McCarrick Will Always Be a Priest

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Over at The Conversation, Mathew Schmalz of the College of Holy Cross explains why the disgraced Catholic bishop Theodore McCarrick will continue to be a priest despite his recent defrocking.  Here is a taste:

The Vatican recently “defrocked” Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal  and the retired archbishop of Washington D.C. McCarrick was found guilty of a number of crimes including sexual abuse of minors.

“Defrocking,” as the name suggests, means the removal of the vestments, or clothing, symbolic of being a priest. This process is more formally referred to as “dismissal from the clerical state,” or “laicization.”

In 2014, the Vatican reported that 848 priests had been “defrocked” in the preceding decade for the rape and molestation of children. McCarrick is the highest ranking member of the Catholic Church to be punished in this way in modern times.

Many people might think that in being defrocked McCarrick would no longer remain a priest. That is not so. Catholics don’t understand the priesthood as simply a job that someone can be fired from.

Read the rest here.

One thought on “Theodore McCarrick Will Always Be a Priest

  1. Reading the full piece by Shmalz, I’m not even sure what the point that he’s making is supposed to be. His feels like a meaningless distinction–like if President Trump were impeached and removed from office, and someone said, “He’ll always be a president of the United States.” Technically, historically and personally that’s true, but the label has become pyrrhic if not meaningless. Obama and Bush and Reagan and Carter will always be presidents of the United States even though they are no longer President of the United States. Defrocked and laicized priests will always be priests, even though they are no longer Fathers.

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