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Analysis: Two years after McCarrick investigation began, report not yet in sight

By JD Flynn for CNA

Pope Francis greets then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 19, 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Denver Newsroom, Oct 1, 2020 / 10:48 pm (CNA).- On October 6, 2018, the Holy See announced a review of its files and archives pertaining to Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington, D.C, who is now laicized and living in disgrace, a known sexual abuser who has offered no public words of repentance.

Since the Vatican’s investigation began:

– The longest government shutdown in U.S. history began and ended.

– Lori Loughlin, tv’s beloved Aunt Becky, was arrested, charged, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for bribing her daughters’ way into college.

– Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire, burned, and is now being rebuilt.

– Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, had a baby, quit the royal family, moved to L.A., and signed a deal with Netflix.

– A global pandemic swept across the globe, locked down nations for months, crippled economies, and killed more than 1 million people.

What has not happened since the investigation began? The publication of the Vatican’s report on Theodore McCarrick, his rise to power, those who aided him, those who looked the other way, and those he harmed.

The report, by many accounts, is completed. It has been rumored frequently to be on the verge of publication. But it remains unpublished.

This means that if clerics in Rome or the United States were complicit in McCarrick’s misdeeds, their complicity goes apparently unacknowledged and unaccounted for.

That if there are as yet unrecognized victims of McCarrick, they might still be living unheard, or God forbid, or unhelped.

That if there are lessons to be learned from McCarrick’s 63 years of priestly and episcopal ministry, behind which were hidden lies, deceptions, and abuses, they have gone as yet unspoken and unheeded.

Still, that the McCarrick report is unpublished does not mean nothing has been done to address clericalism, abuses of power, and episcopal misconduct or negligence since the investigation began.

The Holy See has developed new policies and procedures. So has the U.S. bishops’ conference. Even a few diocesan bishops have begun reforms of the particular diocesan law that sets standards on clerical conduct.

And investigations into several bishops accused of malfeasance have begun.

One ended with the resignation of a diocesan bishop. One ended with the resignation of an auxiliary bishop who failed to disclose allegations of priestly sexual misconduct, although, in fairness, that auxiliary bishop remains a priest in good standing.

Other investigations continue. The investigation of a Minnesota bishop began, and was eventually concluded by the Holy See with a call for more investigation, which, as of now, remains ongoing.

In some dioceses, laity have been given a greater role in assisting bishops to address clerical misconduct. That comes with mixed reviews.

While in some dioceses, it is clear that lay expertise has proven a helpful tool, in other dioceses, priests and some Catholics conclude the pendulum has swung too far, and the rights of due process and a fair hearing have been jettisoned in the name of “transparency” by bishops hoping to prove they take seriously what McCarrick’s superiors apparently did not.

Some priests tell CNA that because bishops “messed up,” their priests pay the price. One priest, who says he was denounced as an abuser even while he was cleared of wrongdoing, has sued his archdiocese, and his archbishop, for more than 2 million dollars.

One priest told CNA that bishops who failed in the past to punish abusers made the mistake of substituting their judgment for the law of the Church; bishops who now fail to afford due process to the accused, he said, make the same mistake.

On the other hand, one change regarded almost universally as positive is that in the two years since the McCarrick investigation began, the voices of victims have begun to be heard more clearly. Groups like Spirit Fire, and Catholics like Teresa Pitt Green and Luis Torres have helped the entire Church to understand how profoundly destructive clerical sexual abuse can be.

Still, the report remains unpublished.

Theories about its absence abound. Some have speculated, morbidly, that the Holy See is waiting for the deaths of senior Vatican and U.S. figures at whose feet blame can be laid. Others suggest, cynically, that the Holy See may be waiting until litigation windows close, or even until the conclusion of capital campaigns. Still others theorize that the investigations of attorneys general in New York and New Jersey has slowed the release of the report.

Any of those might be true, or the reason might be something completely different. Pope Francis has often indicated that he will not be rushed on matters of this kind, and in some cases, though not all, his deliberative pace has led to positive resolutions.

When it comes, the report will probably not be easy reading for most Catholics. It will likely contain genuine scandal. It may well plunge Catholics back into the kind of frustration, despair, and anger they experienced in June 2018, when news of McCarrick first emerged.

But until it comes, it is for many Catholics a kind of scandal in abeyance, an ominous absence they do not understand.

It is clear that the publication of the McCarrick report will not be a deus ex machina moment that sets to right all problems in the Church. It is as likely to cause new problems as to solve old ones. But after two years of waiting for the Vatican’s report, many Catholics are eager to move forward, regardless of what the report might contain.

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  1. Perhaps this is unfair–tell me if it is–but I contrast the indulgence with which Cardinal McCarrick was treated as the scandal unfolded with the way Cardinal Pell seemed to be abandoned when he was falsely prosecuted in Australia.

  2. Honestly, the fact that St Pope Paul VI ordained him a bishop, and St. Pope JPII the Great appointed him to Washington DC may very well have something to do with it. While both men were unquestionably very good and holy men, I’m not so sure they were the most prudent, and in some areas may have been down right gullable.
    Both men have a large, almost groupie-like, following: Paul VI because of Vatican II, Novus Ordo, and the modernization of the Church, JPII because of his defense of life, family, and orthodoxy.
    But what if there was some dirt on either one or both? It makes me wonder if the powers that be are afraid that even more people will walk away and take their $$$ with them. It has also occurred to me Pope Benedict or even Pope Francis may have some embarassing stains on them as well.
    It also could be no investigation ever really occurred and then no report ever written.

  3. The Pontiff Francis is the first Pontiff of The McCarrick Establishment. They believe that the Church is their personal property and “the faithful” are a herd of cattle.

    Having spent 2013-18 like adolescents trying to dismantle the 6th Commandment, and substitute what the McCarrick cult calls the “new anthropology” of psycho-sexual disorder, they were not satisfied with abusing faithful Catholics.

    Instead, they had to indulge their impulse to abuse God Himself, and orchestrated and televised their idolatry in October 2019.

    They have simply shown their contempt for “The Sheep” and “The Good Shepherd.”

    McCarrick remains unrepentant and in full communion with the Pontiff Francis.

    McCarrick and The Pontiff Francis Bergoglio remain as one…and their client, General Secretary Xi of the Communist Party in China, is pleased to see them doing his will.

  4. This report on the “non-report” on Cardinal McCarrick is a nice and welcome update. However, many U.S. Catholics will note the absence of one action they would like to have seen in the list of concluded actions since the onset of the Vatican investigation of the Cardinal, i.e., a review and accounting of all Bishops’ historical conformance to the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

  5. We ALL know why the report is being delayed. There ARE high up prelates in the Holy See being implicated. Francis is hoping the talk just goes away. It will not! This reminds me of the constant creation of reasons for the sexual abuse scandal. We all KNOW the reason but for some reason are afraid to say it. It’s homosexual behavior, period. We are so enthralled with “believing” the garbage the homosexual society is putting out we are afraid to put the real blame where it belongs. My God have mercy on our souls!

  6. The report will never see the light of day unless it’s stolen and leaked. Team Francis don’t want the details of their cover-up for McCarrick to become public.

  7. rumored

    Corrupt News Agency?

    God have mercy on our souls, as we judge others, we will be judged..

    Does Syrian Christians build death camps in Syria, to exterminate non Christians, while US Catholic send millions taken from US Catholics, supporting the extermination of non Christians!

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