ROME — An upcoming Vatican report on the sexual misdeeds of former Washington, DC, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick will be a painful but necessary step in overcoming clerical sexual abuse, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has written.
“We are also still waiting for the release of the so-called ‘McCarrick Report’ by the Holy See, detailing the damning story of former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick,” Cardinal Dolan wrote in his blog on November 5.
“That could be another black-eye for the Church,” the cardinal continued. “But, better that the story come out, in all its awful detail, to both bring some measure of peace to the victim-survivors, as well as serve as a lesson on how to prevent a similar recurrence in the future.”
“We can thank Pope Francis for keeping his promise to undertake and release this report,” Dolan concluded.
The Holy See announced this weekend that the lengthy report will be released on November 10.
The Vatican reduced McCarrick to the lay state last year for his serial homosexual abuse, including abuse of minors, after Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals.
In October 2018, the Vatican promised a thorough investigation into the McCarrick’s abuse, which spanned decades, in the face of mounting pressure to address the issue.
The Vatican will undertake a “thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick, in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively,” the Holy See said in a statement.
On August 25, 2018, however, a former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, released an 11-page bombshell report in which he claimed to have informed Pope Francis personally of McCarrick’s record of abuse in 2013, shortly after the papal election.
Archbishop Viganò also claimed that Francis had reinstated McCarrick to a position of influence in the Vatican, lifting previous sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had privately imposed on the former cardinal.
In 2014, the Washington Post described McCarrick as a go-to person for Pope Francis, noting that he had previously been “put out to pasture” by Pope Benedict.
“Francis, who has put the Vatican back on the geopolitical stage, knows that when he needs a savvy back channel operator he can turn to McCarrick,” Vatican analyst David Gibson wrote at the time.
The Vatican communiqué said Pope Francis is “aware of and concerned by the confusion that these accusations are causing in the conscience of the faithful.” Nonetheless, it made no mention to allegations the pope himself had seriously mishandled the case.
In August 2018, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) formally requested that Pope Francis open a full investigation — an “apostolic visitation” — into the McCarrick case, including who had enabled his rise in the clerical ranks and who had benefited from his patronage.
An “apostolic visitation from the Holy See that included lay professionals would be a particularly effective way” to get to the bottom of this, said Cardinal Dolan at the time, adding that he had become “impatient” waiting for the pope to act.
Frustrated with Rome’s inaction in the matter, the U.S. bishops announced in September of that year their own lay-led investigation into McCarrick’s abuse, focusing on the four dioceses in which McCarrick had worked: New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington, DC.
Pope Francis has come under fire for keeping silence regarding the accusations made against him. Confronted by journalists, he has refused to either confirm or deny the Viganò allegations and has declined to reveal when he learned of McCarrick’s abuse.
Francis has, instead, lashed out at “accusers,” suggesting they are self-serving and Satanic.
The Vatican communiqué said the Holy See is conscious that “it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues” but promised that it would “follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.”
“Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for Bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable,” it said.
The statement also said the Vatican will “in due course, make known the conclusions of the matter regarding Archbishop McCarrick.”
In a follow-up last week to his 2018 report, Archbishop Viganò claimed that Pope Francis has surrounded himself with “corrupt and immoral people, promoting them and covering up investigations that concern them” and that their “blackmailability is the indispensable requirement to be able to be manipulated.”
Any effort at transparency and clarity, if it is to be effective, Viganò wrote, “cannot exclude the one who for over seven years has proclaimed by his words that he wants to clean up the Vatican and the Church.”