Monday Mix: McCarrick deep dive, Willow Creek future, Catholic losses, religious freedom worry

Welcome to another edition of the Monday Mix, where we focus on headlines and insights you might have missed from the weekend and late in the week.

The fine print: Just because we include a headline here doesn't mean we won't offer additional analysis in a different post, particularly if it's a major story. In fact, if you read a piece linked here and have questions or concerns that we might address, please don't hesitate to comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion. The goal here is to point at important news and say, "Hey, look at this."

Three weekend reads

1. "Decisions could be made by one [Vatican official] who says: ‘Screw this, I’ll reroute it through the basement.’" Washington Post religion writer Michelle Boorstein takes a deep dive into “How the Vatican handled reports of Theodore McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct and what it says about the Catholic Church.”

Boorstein’s compelling overture:

In November 2000, a Manhattan priest got fed up with the secrets he knew about a star archbishop named Theodore McCarrick and decided to tell the Vatican.

For years, the Rev. Boniface Ramsey had heard from seminarians that McCarrick was pressuring them to sleep in his bed. The students told him they weren’t being touched, but still, he felt, it was totally inappropriate and irresponsible behavior — especially for the newly named archbishop of Washington.

Ramsey called the Vatican’s then-U.S. ambassador, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who implored the priest to write the allegation so it could be sent up the chain in Rome. “Send the letter!” Montalvo demanded, Ramsey recalls.

He never heard back from Montalvo, and Ramsey has since destroyed his copy of the 2000 letter, he said.

“I thought of it as secret and somehow even sacred — something not to be divulged,” Ramsey told The Washington Post. It wasn’t the concept of a cleric occasionally “slipping up” with their celibacy vow that shocked Ramsey, who believes that’s common. It was the repeated and nonconsensual nature of the McCarrick allegations.

2. "I was never made aware of it until I found out through social media." Speaking of McCarrick, the Kansas City Star reports that officials at a rural Kansas school were stunned to learn the disgraced cardinal is living next door.

Star reporter Judy Thomas, who frequently writes about religion, noted:

Bishop Gerald L. Vincke of the Diocese of Salina, who agreed to McCarrick’s new living arrangement, responded in an email to The Star on Friday afternoon: “Regarding the school, Archbishop McCarrick is not allowed to make any public appearances or visit the school or do any ministry. He is confined to the friary to do penance and prayer. The friary is in the small town in Victoria. The friary is enclosed.”

Vincke added: “I am not aware that the school was notified, but I need to double check with the friary.”

3. "I would like to believe they are going to survive.” On another sex scandal front, Religion News Service’s Emily McFarlan Miller asks, “What’s next for Willow Creek?”

Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, retired early in April after several women publicly accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Miller writes that the megachurch’s future remains uncertain:

For decades Willow Creek had been held up as a model for how evangelical Christian megachurches should be run—both in the U.S. and around the world.

Now it faces an existential crisis.

Julia Williams—who attended Willow Creek in the 1980s and has accused Hybels of misconduct—wants to see the church be the leader it always has been.

“They prided themselves on being the model all these years and they failed,” she said. “But now they could be the model for how to fix this. That’s what I’d love to see.

“But the way they’re going at this, I’m not hopeful.”

Also in the Mix

4. As younger Catholics drift away, the church is considering what works, according to the Boston Globe.

The Globe trend piece sets the scene:

A member of the so-called Silent Generation and grandmother of 13, Mary Ann Keyes is the matriarch of a big Catholic family whose ties to the Roman Catholic Church — like those of many families — have grown more complicated with each generation.

While angered and saddened by the clergy sexual abuse scandals, Keyes, whose family is based in part on the South Shore, would never walk away. “The church means everything to me,” she said.

Her daughter, Kelly Carey, is 53, born between the baby boomers and Generation X. She considered stepping away after the abuse revelations of the early 2000s, she says, but weathered the scandals as a “roaming” Catholic, bouncing among different parishes in the area to hear individual priests she likes and respects.

Carey’s daughters, Katie Nivard, 31, and Reilly Carey, 24, are millennials, and their relationship to the church is more difficult. Both consider themselves Catholic, but neither attends church regularly. It is not the clergy scandals alone that have pushed them away, though that is part of it. They have also found other ways to express their spirituality and find a sense of community outside of an institution they see as out of step with the times.

5. It's getting harder to discuss and enact religious freedom laws that would allow faith groups to address increasing social needs, panelists said a G20 Interfaith Forum.

That’s the firsthand take from The Deseret News’ Kelsey Dallas, who traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to report the story.

In case you missed it

6. Here are three GetReligion posts that you might have missed over the weekend:

A really old debate is back: Does the Old Testament belong in Christian Bibles? (by Richard Ostling)

CNN thinks about some of the strategic silences in comments by the two popes in Rome (by Terry Mattingly)

New podcast: What if President Jeb Bush, not Donald Trump, had picked Brett Kavanaugh? (also by tmatt)

Question to start the week

7. Who is an evangelical? That’s always a good question to ask when you see a headline mentioning that oft-discussed group, as Wall Street Journal religion writer Ian Lovett astutely notes in response to a Vox story.

Happy Monday, everybody!

Have a terrific week!

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