That Secret Meeting

As you recall, about 2 weeks ago, the Boston Globe uncovered a meeting between several bishops and a group of left-wing Catholics held, unbelievably enough, at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center here in Washington, D.C.

I have learned more about this secret meeting between Catholic dissidents and bishops. Discussions at the meeting wandered from the current crisis in the Church to the various liberal “solutions”…women's ordination, married priesthood, etc. (These last two points came out in the break-out sessions.)

Many Catholics — myself included — were outraged that such a meeting would be organized for bishops to hear from “prominent Catholic laity,” and then stacked with left-wing dissidents. There wasn't a conservative to be seen.

Add to that the fact that the get-together was secret, and you've got a real mess. (Incidentally, some people have complained about my describing the meeting as “secret.” Let's review: Information about the meeting was confined to the invitees, the discussions were confidential, and no-one would talk about it on the record. Guess what? I call that secret.)

In case you're wondering which bishops attended, there were four: Wilton Gregory, President of the USCCB; William Friend of Shreveport, LA; Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, FL; and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C.

Especially shocking to some of us was the fact that Cardinal McCarrick not only attended, but was described in the Globe article as the host of the meeting. This seemed out of character for the normally careful McCarrick.

What gives?

Susan Gibbs, the director of communications for the archdiocese, recently told CRISIS that McCarrick was not the host of the meeting, as the Boston Globe article had claimed. (Apparently, the Globe reporter described him as such because McCarrick is the ordinary of Washington, D.C., the site of the meeting.)

According to Gibbs, McCarrick had been contacted by a businessman interested in calling together a meeting of Catholic business leaders to speak “informally and confidentially” about the current situation in the Church. This businessman (presumably Geoffrey Boisi, a former vice-chairman of JP Morgan Chase, and the man responsible for organizing the event) then put together the guest list and program on his own, with no input from McCarrick.

Two additional sources — both highly reliable — confirmed to CRISIS the accuracy of Gibb's statement. In fact, they added a bit more…

Apparently, McCarrick got hoodwinked. They claim he wasn't made aware of the list until days before the meeting, when nothing could be done about it. Furthermore, the cardinal was none too happy about the guest list, and perhaps even less pleased with the way the conference proceeded (it devolved into a tiresome liberal Catholic whine-session, our sources say).

We've tried unsuccessfully to contact Boisi for his comment. And others who have reached him haven't been able to get him to talk on the record. Nevertheless, we're still trying, and would be happy to report his side of things.

So that's the latest on the meeting.

Deal Hudson is editor and publisher of CRISIS Magazine. You can reach him via email at

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