The McCarrick affair may ultimately prove something far more than another disgusting case of sexual abuse, if only because the scandal breaks at a moment of tremendous cultural transition. Think of it as akin to the Reformation, except here it will not be Protestant Christianity but some materialist orthodoxy that will likely move in after the church takes this latest hit. For rising generations weaned on the absolutes of science and safe sex, Archbishop McCarrick offers the perfect meme for a corrupt and hypocritical church out of touch with reality. In this sense the bishop may resemble the hapless Johann Tetzel, a 16th century German Dominican friar whose name has become synonymous with the corrupt sale of indulgences. Though the reality is more complicated, a once-popular ditty captures how he is remembered: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs.” To put it another way, without Tetzel as an embodiment of the Catholic Church’s corruption (and without the help of a relatively new invention called the printing press), those 95 theses Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church might have remained an academic dispute.