Sex abuse rumours about ex-cardinal not seriously investigated

Ongoing sex abuse rumors about disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick were never properly investigated, a Vatican report into his conduct says.

Barely challenged, the US clergyman (pictured) ascended the Catholic hierarchy to become a cardinal – a prince of the Church.

He used personal contacts to help him along the way. When challenged, he protested his innocence.

The newly-published report notes the lack of Church officials reporting and investigating accusations against McCarrick.

It was during Pope St. John Paul IIs papacy that McCarrick was appointed firstly archbishop of Washington and then cardinal.

The Vatican says John Paul probably overlooked the abuse rumours about McCarrick: they’d known each other a long time and McCarrick strongly denied the rumours. It’s also possible John Paul was influenced by his own experience in Poland with communist authorities making accusations to discredit the church.

However, rumours of McCarrick’s conduct when he was a bishop, especially with young adult men and seminarians led the Vatican to stop promoting him.

They decided it would be “imprudent” for him to become archbishop of Chicago in 1997, of New York in 1999-2000 and, initially, of Washington in July 2000.

In June 2018 the Vatican suspended McCarrick from ministry after an investigation by the Archdiocese of New York found credible a charge that he sexually abused a teenager.

McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in July 2018.

In February 2019 Pope Francis dismissed the ex-cardinal from the priesthood.

His dismissal followed a canonical process, which found him guilty of “solicitation in the sacrament of confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

Francis initiated an investigation into how McCarrick was able to continue to rise through church ranks despite the repeated rumors, anonymous letters, allegations and even settlements with alleged victims.

In August 2018, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, called on Francis to resign, claiming he had informed Francis of McCarrick’s abuse in 2013. Vigano said top Vatican officials had known of McCarrick’s abusive behavior for years.

The Vatican report summary released to the media says “No records support Vigano’s account” of his meeting with Pope Francis about the ex-cardinal “and evidence as to what he said is sharply disputed.”

Until the allegations about child sexual abuse were made to the Archdiocese of New York in 2017, “Francis had heard only that there had been allegations and rumors related to immoral conduct with adults occurring prior to McCarrick’s appointment to Washington,” it says.

“Believing that the allegations had already been reviewed and rejected by Pope John Paul II, and well aware that McCarrick was active during the papacy of Benedict XVI, Pope Francis did not see the need to alter the approach that had been adopted in prior years,” the summary says.

In its s introduction the report says it is based on documents found at the Vatican and the US apostolic nunciature, plus interviews with over 90 witnesses, including survivors, cardinals, bishops and former seminarians.

Survivors contributions to the report were “fundamental,” says Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of State.


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