New York Times magazine

Cardinal Ted McCarrick, Part II: The New York Times takes a stab at this old story

Cardinal Ted McCarrick, Part II: The New York Times takes a stab at this old story

I’d heard that at least one major newspaper was at work on l’affaire McCarrick. On Tuesday, there it was: A double-bylined piece in the New York Times.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the now-retired head of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was famous in his prime for being a mover, shaker and chief fundraiser in the church. He was also a sexual molester of young, handsome male seminarians; something several of us reporters knew at the time. But, as I explained here, none of us could prove it, and the victims who could have helped us refused to go on the record.

Then in June, two dioceses released the shocking news that McCarrick had been credibly accused of sexually molesting a 16-year-old altar boy 47 years ago.

Now, the Times, via its Sunday magazine, already had this story in 2012 when a freelancer managed to document a number of the important details.

But that story never ran. Six years later -– and with McCarrick in his dotage, and out of power -– the nation's most powerful newspaper has finally published this 3,054-word piece.

Better late than never, I suppose. But there are some odd holes in this narrative.

As a young man studying to be a priest in the 1980s, Robert Ciolek was flattered when his brilliant, charismatic bishop in Metuchen, N.J., Theodore E. McCarrick, told him he was a shining star, cut out to study in Rome and rise high in the church.

Bishop McCarrick began inviting him on overnight trips, sometimes alone and sometimes with other young men training to be priests. There, the bishop would often assign Mr. Ciolek to share his room, which had only one bed. The two men would sometimes say night prayers together, before Bishop McCarrick would make a request — “come over here and rub my shoulders a little”— that extended into unwanted touching in bed.

Mr. Ciolek, who was in his early 20s at the time, said he felt unable to say no, in part because he had been sexually abused by a teacher in his Catholic high school, a trauma he had shared with the bishop.

“I trusted him, I confided in him, I admired him,” Mr. Ciolek said in an interview this month, the first time he has spoken publicly about the abuse, which lasted for several years while Mr. Ciolek was a seminarian and later a priest. “I couldn’t imagine that he would have anything other than my best interests in mind.”

I’m glad the Times finally got Ciolek to fess up. I called him nine years ago and he refused to comment. Other reporters had called him, too.

The Times story later says he was paid an $80,000 settlement by the Church in 2005 that insured his silence on what McCarrick had done to him. Seriously?

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'Open marriage?' The New York Times Magazine hopes, hopes, hopes that it's a trend

'Open marriage?' The New York Times Magazine hopes, hopes, hopes that it's a trend

So, now the culture warriors at The New York Times Magazine have gifted us with a piece titled “Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?” This was followed by an umpteen-word piece about couples for whom one of the major sacraments of Christianity (and most other world religions) is now a three-some, four-some or whatever radical individualists want it to be.

I can just hear some folks screaming: “We knew it was going in this direction! Say 'yes' to same-sex marriage, single parenting and it’s down the slippery slope.” I don't quite follow that line of logic, but here we are. You know many people do think that and you also know that many journalists know that there are red-zip-code people who think that. 

There's even a movie out called "Open Marriage", but the results of this social experiment aren't as rosy as the magazine imagines they could be.

 The article started out with a couple named Daniel and Elizabeth and, how several years into it:

Daniel would think about a radical possibility: opening up their marriage to other relationships. He would poke around on the internet and read about other couples’ arrangements. It was both an outlandish idea and, to him, a totally rational one. He eventually even wrote about it in 2009 for a friend who had a blog about sexuality. “As our culture becomes more accepting of choices outside the norm, nonmonogamy will expand as an acceptable choice, and the world will have to change as a result,” he predicted.
He was in his late 30s when he decided to broach the subject with Elizabeth gingerly: Do you ever miss that energy you feel when you’re in love with someone for the first time? They had two children, and he pointed out that having the second did not detract from how much they loved the first one. “Love is additive,” he told her. “It is not finite.” He was not surprised when Elizabeth rejected the idea; he had mostly raised it as a way of communicating the urgency of his needs. 

Then Elizabeth gets Parkinson’s disease; she meets another man with similar symptoms and their relationship turns physical.

Now up to this point, the couple has a light relationship with religion.

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Charmaine Yoest is a complex personality. Why can't reporters figure that out?

Charmaine Yoest is a complex personality. Why can't reporters figure that out?

Is it just my imagination, or are President Donald Trump’s female picks creating a lot more news-media hysteria than his male nominees?

Whether it’s Paula White as one of his six clergy speakers at his inauguration or Betsy DeVos as education secretary or now Charmaine Yoest as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, the screaming is over the top.

I’ve never met Charmaine Yoest, although I heard her speak at the 2009 meeting of the Religion Newswriters Association and was impressed at the time. And for the record, my sympathies are with anyone who must work in the Humphrey building, a nasty piece of Brutalist architecture completed in 1977 that serves as HHS headquarters down the street from the Capitol. The one time I was inside was not a pleasant experience.

Back to the react. I’ll use Politico’s opening salvo as an example:

President Donald Trump on Friday said he would name one of the most prominent anti-abortion activists in the country to a top communications post at HHS.
Charmaine Yoest, tapped to be assistant secretary of public affairs, is a senior fellow at American Values. She is the former president of Americans United for Life, which has been instrumental in advancing anti-abortion legislation at the state level to restrict access to the procedure.
Her appointment was quickly panned by Democratic lawmakers and prominent abortion rights organizations. The assistant secretary of public affairs shapes communications efforts for the entire agency.
“Ms. Yoest has a long record of seeking to undermine women’s access to health care and safe, legal abortion by distorting the facts, and her selection shows yet again that this administration is pandering to extreme conservatives and ignoring the millions of men and women nationwide who support women’s constitutionally protected health care rights and don’t want to go backward," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement.
AUL’s website -- which states that the group offers state lawmakers 32 different pieces of model legislation to restrict access to abortion -- characterizes Yoest as “public enemy #1” for abortion rights organizations.

Betcha can’t guess where Politico stands on this appointment (or on abortion issues) can you?

 

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When Jews leave the Orthodox fold: The New York Times magazine profiles the exiles

When Jews leave the Orthodox fold: The New York Times magazine profiles the exiles

I’ve seen my fair share of stories about children raised in strict religious environments in all sorts of settings, but one group I’ve not read much about is ultra-Orthodox Jews. I once caught a glimpse of that lifestyle when I was invited to services at a Chasidic synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway,  then dinner at a friend’s in Crown Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood heavily populated by followers of the late Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Next door was the Jewish Children’s Museum, the largest of its kind in the country. My visit was a glimpse into a lifestyle I’d only heard about in books and to be mixing with people who came straight out of a Chaim Potok novel was beyond fascinating.

Potok, in fact, wrote several books about the struggle between faith and secularity and it’s this theme that got explored in a New York Times magazine piece this past weekend about Jews who leave the Orthodox life. It starts thus:

On Thursdays, the nonprofit organization Footsteps hosts a drop-in group for its membership of formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews, who mostly refer to themselves as “off the derech.” “Derech” means “path” in Hebrew, and “off the derech,” or O.T.D. for short, is how their ultra-Orthodox families and friends refer to them when they break away from these tight-knit, impermeable communities, as in: “Did you hear that Shaindel’s daughter Rivkie is off the derech? I heard she has a smartphone and has been going to museums.” So even though the term is burdened with the yoke of the very thing they are trying to flee, members remain huddled together under “O.T.D.” on their blogs and in their Facebook groups, where their favored hashtag is #itgetsbesser — besser meaning “better” in Yiddish. Sometimes someone will pop up on a message board or in an email group and say, “Shouldn’t we decide to call ourselves something else?” But it never takes. Reclamations are messy.
At the drop-in session I attended, 10 men and women in their 20s and 30s sat around a coffee table. Some of them were dressed like me, in jeans and American casualwear, and others wore the clothing of their upbringings: long skirts and high-collared shirts for women; black velvet skullcaps and long, virgin beards and payot (untrimmed side locks) for men. Half of them had extricated themselves from their communities and were navigating new, secular lives. But half still lived among their Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox sects in areas of New York City, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley and were secretly dipping their toes into the secular world — attending these meetings, but also doing things as simple as walking down the street without head coverings, or trying on pants in a clothing store, or eating a nonkosher doughnut, or using the internet. They had families at home who believed they were in evening Torah learning sessions, or out for a walk, or at synagogue for evening prayers. On the coffee table were two pizzas, one kosher, one nonkosher. The kosher pizza tasted better, but only a couple of people ate it.

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