TORONTO (ONTARIO, CANADA)
November 26, 2020
In the weeks since the Vatican released its report regarding disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the blame game has been in full swing.
How is it possible, both critics and friends ask, that such a man as McCarrick could ever rise to the highest levels of the Church? It’s a good question, with not a lot of good answers.
The 460-page report does not lay blame on any one person or group. Instead, it has carefully followed the trail of facts and communiques inside and outside the Vatican regarding who knew what and when and how about the allegations of sexual misconduct against McCarrick. The issue of guilt isn’t addressed in the report; that had been decided by an investigation two years ago that found “credible” evidence against him. He was subsequently removed from the priesthood.
At the heart of the report compiled over two years is the Vatican’s response to the rumours and allegations that had been circulating about McCarrick for years. It’s clear the Vatican was guilty of turning a blind eye, ignoring warning signs and siding with the accused. The good news is that it has chosen not to keep its missteps hidden from public view.
Three popes are central to this story of course, because that’s where the buck stops. John Paul II fares the worst. He heard reports of McCarrick’s behaviour, ordered an investigation, but ultimately chose to believe his denials of wrongdoing, perhaps swayed by his own history in Poland of seeing people unjustly accused. Pope Benedict put restrictions on McCarrick that were largely ignored. Pope Francis was more proactive, ordering further investigation after more claims of abuse surfaced in 2018 and laicizing him last year. McCarrick is now 90 years old, whereabouts not publicly known, and there are no criminal charges filed against him.
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