McCarrick verdict is the latest marker on the road to conversion

National Catholic Reporter

June 21, 2018

by Michael Sean Winters

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigned from public ministry yesterday after the Holy See determined that allegations of sexual abuse against a minor dating back almost 50 years were “credible and substantiated.” The Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen also released information that allegations of sexual misconduct with adults against McCarrick had been made in the past, with two of the three allegations resulting in a settlement.

McCarrick served as a priest for 60 years. He served the church as president of the Catholic University in Puerto Rico, as bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, and as archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and later of Washington. He became a cardinal and participated in the conclave of 2005 that elected Pope Benedict XVI. McCarrick was a “man of the conference” serving on a variety of committees over the years.

He was one of the church’s foremost ambassadors, traveling to countries most of us could not spell and some we had never heard of, building relationships across ethnic and racial and denominational lines. Even in retirement, his schedule would have been daunting to a person half his age, but he kept at it. All for the good of the church.

None of that protected him from the charge of having abused a minor. None of it should have protected him. It is now clear that after years, decades and probably centuries of covering up the crimes of the clergy regarding the sexual abuse of children, now a regime of transparency and accountability is firmly enough in place that no one, not even a cardinal, can be considered above the law. They may get a pass for other crimes and failings, but not this. For all the continued problems — the Chile situation, the curial foot-dragging that led Marie Collins to resign from the Pontifical Commission on Child Protection — the culture at the Holy See has begun to change on this issue. Twenty years ago, such allegations would have been swept under the rug. Not anymore.

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