The Cathedral of the Plains can be seen long before Interstate 70 reaches Victoria, with its Romanesque spires rising out of the vast West Kansas horizon.
This is a strange place to put a sanctuary the size of the Basilica of St. Fidelis, but that's a testimony to the Catholic faith of generations of Volga-German farmers. This is also a strange place to house a disgraced ex-cardinal.
However, the friary near the basilica has one obvious virtue, as a home for 88-year-old Theodore McCarrick. It's located 1,315 miles from The Washington Post. Who sent this famous Beltway powerbroker to St. Fidelis to spend his days in prayer and penance?
"The Holy See alone can make that call," said Rocco Palmo, the Philadelphia-based insider whose "Whispers in the Loggia" blog is a hot spot for Vatican news and documents.
McCarrick has become the iconic figure at the heart of the latest round of Catholic clergy sex scandals, in America and around the world.
Here in America, the key will be whether bishops find ways to hold each other accountable, especially with talk increasing of a federal investigation of cover-ups linked to sexual abuse, said Palmo. But when it comes to probing the McCarrick scandals, and finding a way to guard the guardians, "anything that doesn't have Rome's permission isn't going to fly."
McCarrick's media-friendly career as a kingmaker -- he publically claimed he helped elect Pope Francis -- began in New York and New Jersey. He became a global figure, as well as a cardinal, while serving as archbishop of Washington, D.C.
After decades of rumors, McCarrick finally faced abuse accusations after a victim contacted the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program of the Archdiocese of New York. Since a cardinal was involved, the Vatican had to be notified and asked to authorize the investigation.
Eventually, a settlement led to church statements and media reports linking McCarrick to the abuse of a teen-aged boy, as well as decades of harassment and abuse of seminarians directly under his authority.