Early reactions to McCarrick report cite its significance to the church

National Catholic Reporter

November 10, 2020

By Brian Roewe

Two years after reports of sexual abuse by Theodore McCarrick surfaced into public view, the Vatican’s long-awaited report on the now-defrocked former cardinal was released Tuesday. As the public sifted through the dense and detailed document, abuse survivors and their advocates called it an important moment that must lead to further action and investigations, perhaps even from the nation’s next president.

Much of the early reaction centered on the significance of the report itself, rather than specific findings and conclusions. At 400-plus pages, the report presents an extensive portrait of McCarrick’s rise within the church’s ranks and how allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct followed him throughout his career but did not derail it, even as the highest levels of the church learned of them.

In perhaps its most explosive discovery, the report stated that Pope John Paul II made the decision in 2000 to appoint McCarrick as archbishop of Washington, D.C., despite a warning a year earlier that he had been accused of pedophilia and sharing beds with seminarians.

‘Awareness is meaningless without concrete action’

Survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates called the report a milestone. They said it told a story too familiar to too many victims, and they cautioned against viewing it as a condemnation of one pope alone, or as the end of the abuse saga.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of Bishop-Accountability.org, a web archive that houses troves of documents on the abuse crisis, called the report “the most significant document on the abuse crisis to come from the Church,” and expressed hope that it represents in the Catholic Church “a shift to genuine transparency.”

At the same time, Barrett Doyle said the report represents “a powerful argument” against Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the 2019 apostolic letter that issued mandates and laws for reporting and investigating sexual abuse, and the self-policing model of accountability.

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