Anti-Abuse Group Says ‘Many More McCarricks’ Must Be Defrocked

US cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick arrives for a meeting on the eve of the start of a conclave on March 11, 2013 at the Vatican. Cardinals will hold a final set of meetings on Monday before they are locked away to choose a new pope to lead the Roman Catholic …
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THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

ROME — A group devoted to rooting out clergy sex abuse has called for the defrocking of more bishops in the wake of the laicization of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick this week.

At a press conference in Rome Sunday, Anne Barrett Doyle, co-president of Bishop Accountability, said there are “many more McCarricks” and urged the laicization of five bishops whom the group believes to be guilty of punishable offenses concerning sex abuse.

Specifically, Barrett Doyle mentioned two Americans — Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Bishop Joseph Hart of Cheyenne, Wyoming, as well as three others: Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron of Agaña, Guam; Bishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto of Paraiba, Brazil; and Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium.

These bishops have already been dismissed from their former posts but should be dismissed from the clerical state as well, Barrett Doyle said.

“It is an insult to the Catholics of the world to hold forth McCarrick’s laicization as accountability,” she said. “We are past the stage of confusing a fired bishop as accountability. We haven’t even begun yet.”

During the press conference, Barrett Doyle spelled out why Bishop Accountability believes that the five bishops should be defrocked.

During World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005, Nienstedt had two rain-soaked teenagers strip down in his hotel room while he did the same, she said.

“We know that he covered up for egregious offenders, not just in the distant past,” she said.

Last December, Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda declared that his predecessor was no longer able to exercise public ministry in the archdiocese until the charges against him are resolved.

In the case of Bishop Hart, his former diocese of Kansas City has admitted to ten settlements with victims under his watch, Barrett Doyle said.

The other three bishops were all found guilty of similarly grave offenses, she said, which merit dismissal from the clerical state.

On Thursday, the Vatican is hosting a long-awaited summit on clerical sex abuse. Pope Francis has invited the heads of all the national bishops’ conferences from around the world for the event.

Some have suggested that the summit is flawed from the start, however, and will not produce the results that are needed.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, for example, the former papal nuncio to the United States, said the upcoming summit will likely fail because of an unwillingness to address the root causes of the crisis, notably the extensive homosexual network in the Church.

“Why does the word ‘homosexuality’ never appear in recent official documents of the Holy See?” Viganò asked in a recent symposium. “This is by no means to suggest that most of those with a homosexual inclination are abusers, but the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of abuse has been inflicted on post-pubescent boys by homosexual clerics.”

“It is mere hypocrisy to condemn the abuse and claim to sympathize with the victims without facing up to this fact honestly. A spiritual revitalization of the clergy is necessary, but it will be ultimately ineffectual if it does not address this problem,” the archbishop stated.

In his statement, Viganò also questioned why Pope Francis continues to elevate “notorious” homosexuals to positions of influence if he really intends to tackle the problem.

“Why does Pope Francis keep and even call as his close collaborators people who are notorious homosexuals?” Viganò said. “Why has he refused to answer legitimate and sincere questions about these appointments? In doing so he has lost credibility on his real will to reform the Curia and fight the corruption.”

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