In most western cultures, people imagine dragons to be evil, demon-like make-believe beasts, living in dark, dangerous places. They think of large, muscular, flying, fire-breathing creatures with colorful, glittering scales who attack castles, hoard treasure, and thrive off creating murderous chaos. While these mythological types of dragons are make-believe, there is another, more beastly type of dragon that does exist. These are the dragons like the characters in my poem “The Cardinal.” They are those who have let go of their humanity and turned from human to beast by either embracing or ignoring evil when it comes their way.

My work, “The Cardinal” is meant to warn and condemn those powerful dragons who dressed up as religious administration and clergy in the recent ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sex abuse scandal and cover up. In my opinion, there is nothing more dragon-like and beastly than the religious representatives, who used their power, reputation, and esteem to satisfy their destructive urges by devouring and consuming children and young men with sexual abuse.

The Cardinal

Prologue:

Of the Vatican’s robed holy men,

There was a sly, charismatic Cardinal,

Who often stirred priestly vocation,

helping young men become worshipful.

When asked how he so many inspired

To the calling of the holy vestments,

He said only prayer was required

To bring the Holy Spirit’s presence.

And love and passion for the young men,

With sincere cares in their interests

Surely did help him, time and again,

Coax them to leave lives of indifference.

The Cardinal spoke.

The Tale:

“Oh, Holy Men!” He shouted boldly.

“These are my secrets. Listen closely.

When promoting life of holy cloth,

I make my voice as soft as scotch broth.

I start my homily with a tale

about some priests who drink wine and ale,

About some priests who play many games

And have priestly friends who do the same.

These priests are just ordinary lads

Who eat, drink, and play like most comrades.

They are not geniuses or like saints,[1]

So, the young men should not have complaints

That they aren’t good enough to be priests.

God calls the common to lead His Feasts.

I talk of the miracles they’ll work,

For the children, the fireman, the clerk.

And when convinced of little sorrow,

boys come ask to meet on the morrow.

They ask to talk of the devout life.

I say it has some worthwhile strife.

I then invite them for retreat,

Where they’ll learn of the priestly mystique.

I give them the route to my beach house,

Where they’ll learn about Christ as their spouse.

Before they arrive, I prepare beds

For them to rest their tired young heads.

And for the special boy I make one room

Where he will meet me as Christ the groom.

And when night falls, I crawl to his bed,

Where I as the priest and he are wed.

But this is needless intimacy.

For Christ provides himself, you see.

Through the Holy Eucharistic Bread,

Jesus enters us and we are wed

As One Holy Flesh, clean as the Saints!

Our souls become white, a fresh new slate!

Satisfied through our Lord’s Holy Bread

We do not fear to be with the dead.

By consummating with Mass’s Bread

To Jesus Christ we are fully wed.

And when we die and go to Heaven

We meet in flesh our groom unleavened.

That is our priority as priests —

To give Christ as bread in the Wedding Feast.

Woe to those who abuse this privilege,

And devote their life to sacrilege.

And here now I’ll begin my tale:

The Holy Spirit as guide prevail!

There once was a young charismatic priest,

Who had great talent for blessed speech.

Young men and women came from many miles

To witness his homilies and his smiles.

When the Vatican heard of his fame,

A holy bishop he then became.

And up the ranks to Archbishop too!

And then made Cardinal as his fame grew.

But this man had an unholy lust,

Of which even demons found disgust.

He nightly raped seminarians — boys!

And used them up like disposable toys.

Then in the morn these abused young men

Blamed themselves for the Cardinal’s sin.

They thought themselves unworthy as priests.

Some thought they turned the Cardinal to Beast[2]

In their woundedness and in their pain

They forgot the priesthood, their hearts slain.

One by one they left the Catholic Faith,

Their souls dying and turning wraith.

They hated themselves and the Beast’s vicar.

I swear indeed there is no deed sicker

Than a Cardinal lacking self-control

And raping the young’s body and soul.

But maybe something is sicker yet:

The cover up, the willful forget.

All the clergy who knew — and washed their hands!

Who knew and lied upon the holy stand!

Who let him continue his abuse,

Turning blind eyes to the victim youths.

Who turned Christ’s Body of charity

to a Hellish place of vulgarity!

But ruined lives are not eternal.

Christ will heal, with His love maternal.

And those who do not repent of their shame

Will eternally burn in Hell’s flame.

Let us trust in God dear holy priests!

And excommunicate from the Feast

Those who worship Satan in Christ’s Name

And so, our True Loving Church reclaim.


Citation Information

Jacqueline Wilsom, “The Cardinal,” An Unexpected Journal: Dragons 5, no. 1. (Summer 2022), 40-45.


Endnotes

[1] “EC2007 Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Saturday Homily,” January 13, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ33Ok0aPRU

[2] Satan