NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times
November 10, 2020
By Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham
A new report about a disgraced former cardinal had the potential to implicate three separate papacies in scandal.
On Tuesday the Vatican released a massive report investigating how Theodore E. McCarrick, a disgraced former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, rose to the heights of the Catholic Church, despite leaders receiving reports that he had sexually abused minors and adult seminarians over the course of decades.
Here are five takeaways from the report:
• Pope John Paul II knew of allegations of Mr. McCarrick’s sexual misconduct.
Pope John Paul II personally made the decision to elevate Mr. McCarrick even after a U.S. cardinal warned that he had been accused of sexual misconduct.
In 1999, when Mr. McCarrick was being considered to take over the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor of New York wrote a six-page letter to the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States. He raised concerns that Mr. McCarrick had asked young adult men to sleep in his bed with him and that some priests had experienced psychological trauma from Mr. McCarrick’s inappropriate behavior.
“I regret that I would have to recommend very strongly against such promotion, particularly if to a Cardinatial See,” Cardinal O’Connor said. “Nevertheless, I subject my comments to higher authority and most particularly our Holy Father.”
Vatican leaders shared the assessment with Pope John Paul II. But the pope dismissed the allegations after Mr. McCarrick wrote him a letter directly denying them, and he elevated Mr. McCarrick anyway to the Archdiocese of Washington, one of the most prominent positions in the country. “McCarrick’s direct relationship with John Paul II also likely had an impact on the Pope’s decision making,” the report said.
[The other takeaways discussed in this article are:]
• The Vatican blames three American bishops for providing misleading information.
• Pope Benedict XVI ousted Mr. McCarrick as archbishop of Washington but declined to investigate him.
• Pope Francis did nothing until 2017 because he believed the allegations had already been reviewed by Pope John Paul II.
• It is extremely unusual for the Vatican to investigate its highest leaders like this.
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