At one-year mark, McCarrick saga remains a story of lights and shadows


June 20, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

One year ago today, Theodore McCarrick woke up as a cardinal of the Catholic Church, a busy informal diplomatic trouble-shooter on behalf of the Vatican and someone perceived as a friend of the reigning pope, Francis. By the time he went to bed he’d been removed from public ministry, starting a cascade of abuse allegations that led to his being expelled from the College of Cardinals and, eventually, from the priesthood.

McCarrick, who’ll turn 89 on July 7, now lives in disgrace in a small Capuchin friary on the plains of Western Kansas.

As we reach the one-year milestone of the McCarrick saga, it’s a good time to examine where things stand. In essence, it’s a tale typical of the Catholic Church, full of both lights and shadows, hope aroused and business left undone.

On the one hand, Pope Francis came into office vowing there would be no “daddy’s boys” on his watch, meaning clergy so senior or sheltered by powerful patrons as to be beyond reach should they commit a crime. McCarrick certainly proved he meant business, since this was not only a Prince of the Church but someone who, by multiple accounts, campaigned actively for the election of then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina in 2013 and was instrumental in delivering some share of votes to the new pontiff.

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