SALINA – Bishop Gerald Vincke of the Diocese of Salina received a phone call from Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. on September 13th, 2018. After exchanging pleasantries, Cardinal Wuerl requested Bishop Vincke’s permission to allow Archbishop Theodore McCarrick to reside at the Saint Fidelis Capuchin Friary in Victoria, Kansas.
McCarrick, now 88 years old, will live a life of prayer and penance.
Before speaking with Bishop Vincke, Cardinal Wuerl already received permission for the arrangement from Father Christopher Popravek, the provincial of the Capuchin Friary in Denver.
Bishop Vincke said “yes” to the arrangement.
“I realize this decision will be offensive and hurtful to many people,” Bishop Vincke acknowledged in a statement released on social media last week. “Archbishop McCarrick is, in many ways, at the forefront of the recent firestorm in the Church. Many of us are confused and angry by what Archbishop McCarrick is alleged to have done several decades ago. . . Please know that I agreed to this arrangement with the understanding that Archbishop McCarrick is excluded from any public appearances and ministry.”
The Diocese of Salina will not incur any costs in the arrangement.
Bishop Vincke used the opportunity to apologize to victims of sexual abuse. “My heart aches for you and your families. I am unable to comprehend the extent of your suffering,” he wrote. “Sadly, many times the victims did not receive an adequate response from the Church regarding the abuse they endured and the life-long pain and suffering that accompanies such evil. As a Church, we are extremely sorry and ask for forgiveness.”
The friary is part of a historic tourist attraction, boasting of more than 16,000 visitors a year. The “Cathedral of the Plains” is listed as one of the eight wonders of Kansas. It’s open during daylight hours and Currently, eight Capuchin Franciscan brothers and priests reside in the friary.
The friary is also located close to Victoria Elementary School. The two properties share the same border.
“I was never made aware of it until I found out through social media today,” said Kent Michel, superintendent of the school district and principal of Victoria Elementary told the Kansas City Star.
“Please join me in praying for Archbishop McCarrick as he now leads a life of prayer and penance,” Bishop Vincke urged his diocese. “Most of all, let us pray for all victims of abuse so they may experience the healing presence of Jesus and the tenderness and compassion of our Blessed Mother.”