The Latest on the Vatican’s investigation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and allegations of sexual misconduct (all times local).
Top U.S. Roman Catholic leaders are reacting to the Vatican’s investigation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, says it “represents a significant and powerful step forward in advancing accountability and transparency regarding sexual abuse.”
Tobin says “failures by some leaders in the Catholic Church have wounded many,” but “the Church has made progress in responding to clergy abuse by implementing and updating policies and programs to safeguard the faithful, especially the most vulnerable among us.”
Cardinal-designate Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington D.C., says his “heart hurts for all who will be shocked, saddened, scandalized and angered by the revelations” in the report.
Gregory says the disclosure is necessary if there is to be “true redemptive healing.”
“This is an important, difficult and necessary document,” Gregory says, “and it demands prayerful, thorough and thoughtful reflection.”
And Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says the McCarrick scandal is “another tragic chapter in the Church’s long struggle to confront the crimes of sexual abuse by clergy.”
He expresses his “profound sorrow and deepest apologies” to the ex-cardinal’s victims, their families and all survivors of clerical sex abuse.
“This report underscores the need for us to repent and grow in our commitment to serve the people of God,” Gomez says.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VATICAN’S INVESTIGATION:
— A two-year Vatican investigation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick found that a series of bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed reports that he slept with seminarians, and determined that Pope Francis merely continued his predecessors’ handling of the predator until a former altar boy alleged abuse.
— The 449-page internal investigation into the American prelate’s rise and fall was published in a bid to restore credibility to the U.S. and Vatican hierarchies, which have been shattered by the McCarrick scandal.
— A summary of the report puts most of the blame on a dead saint: Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington D.C., in 2000, despite having commissioned an inquiry that confirmed he slept with seminarians. The summary says John Paul believed his handwritten denial.
— McCarrick, 90, was defrocked by Francis last year after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of allegations that the globe-trotting envoy and successful church fundraiser had sexually molested adults as well as children.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:
A lawyer whose firm is handling five cases naming Theodore McCarrick as a perpetrator of sex abuse says the Vatican’s report on its investigation into the former cardinal “has the potential to be an historic first step toward top-down transparency within the Catholic Church.”
Attorney Jeff Anderson says the report is “unprecedented” in that, for the first time, “the Vatican has engaged a third-party, non-clergy lawyer to conduct the investigation, collect the evidence, connect the dots, and expose not only a perpetrator, but a system that put children in peril for decades.”
Anderson says Pope Francis’ actions going forward “will determine if he will lead a Church thoroughly committed to the healing and justice it espouses by walking the hard road of accountability, or one willing to expose only its most notorious offender to keep our eyes off those hiding in the shadows.”
SNAP, a network representing survivors of clergy sex-abuse, is welcoming the Vatican’s report on its investigation of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick but says many more steps need to be taken to prevent abuse.
The group calls for the removal of “any prelate who was aware of McCarrick’s crimes and did nothing,” as well as “a pope who is willing to talk earnestly and often about what actions he is taking to combat clergy abuse worldwide.”
SNAP says the abuse crisis is an ongoing one, and transparency and accountability are still lacking.
It calls the report “one step in the right direction” but says the Vatican must ensure that past mistakes will not be repeated.
“Awareness is good,” it says. “But awareness is meaningless without concrete action.”