Scicluna, 58, earned the sobriquet “chief prosecutor of clerical sex abuse cases” from his time at the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith. Appointed to that role by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, is widely seen as the architect of the more aggressive approach to the clergy abuse crisis that emerged in after 2001.
This is at least the second time that Francis has tapped Scicluna to deal with a high profile case. In April 2014, he dispatched Scicluna to Scotland to collect testimony in a case against Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the former archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, who resigned in 2013 after admitting to sexual misconduct.
O'Brien resigned abruptly just days before the 2013 conclave that elected Francis pope, following allegations by three priests and one former priest of the Scottish archdiocese that the cardinal had inappropriate sexual relations with them dating back some 30 years.
In May 2015, the Vatican announced that O'Brien, "in dialogue with the Holy Father," renounced all "duties and privileges" associated with being a cardinal, including by serving as a papal adviser, a member of Vatican congregations and councils, and as an elector of a new pope. He was 77 at that time. He has lived privately since, with no participation in any public, religious or civil events.
Shortly after Benedict was elected pope in 2005, he sent then-Msgr. Scicluna to investigate allegations about abuse committed by Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Allegations against Maciel had been accumlated for decades, but as head of the wealthy and well-connected Legionaries, the accusations had gone no where. Several months after Scicluna began the investigation, Benedict ordered Maciel to "a life reserved to prayer and penance, renouncing any public ministry."
At the time, Legion officials defended Maciel's declaration of innocence and compared him to Christ for his suffering. Maciel died in January 2008 at age 87. In 2010, leaders of the order for the first time publicly acknowledged their founder had sexually abused young seminarians. They also revealed that Maciel had father several children with two women. They asked forgiveness for failing to listen to his accusers.
When the innocence of children is “trampled upon, broken, sullied, abused, and destroyed,” then “the earth becomes arid and the whole world sad,” Scicluna said in May 2010 at prayer service for reparation for abuse committed by priests and for healing within the church. The service was organized by students at Rome’s pontifical colleges and took place in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair of Peter.
“How many sins in the church [have happened] because of arrogance, insatiable ambition, abuse of power and injustices committed by those who abuse their ministry to advance their career?” Scicluna asked.
He denounced the “futile and wretched motives of vainglory.”
The remedy to such scandals offered by God as the “Divine Surgeon,” according to Scicluna, is to “cut out [disease] in order to heal,” and to “amputate in order to restore health.”
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