A Tale of Two Cardinals — One Past, One Present

National Catholic Register

Jan. 1, 2020

By Father Raymond J. de Souza

At year-end, two cardinals were confined to quarters, unable to celebrate Holy Mass. The stories of Cardinal George Pell and now Mr. Theodore McCarrick are the dominant Catholic news stories of 2019, at least in the English-speaking world, but with universal implications.

Cardinal Pell is incarcerated in a Melbourne jail, having been sentenced in March to a six-year term after being convicted of sexual assaults in the Melbourne cathedral in 1996. His appeal at Australia’s highest court will be heard in March 2020.

Cardinal McCarrick was laicized in February after being found guilty in a Church trial of sexual abuse of minors, abuse of power and solicitation in the sacrament of confession. He lives in seclusion in a Kansas friary with no public contact. No longer a cleric, McCarrick cannot celebrate Mass or exercise any priestly ministry.

Both situations are astonishing, both in their own ways unprecedented. And both raise questions about the course of justice, both civil and canonical, and how the two coincide, or come into conflict.

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