November 11, 2020
By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli
Rome – Pope Francis on Wednesday vowed to “eradicate” the evil of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, one day after an investigation into the case of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick detailed failures that continued into his pontificate.
The Vatican’s 449-page report focused mainly on the years critical to McCarrick’s rise, when Pope John Paul II named him archbishop of Washington despite being warned of his sexual misconduct.
But the report also revealed how lieutenants close to Francis showed little interest in following clues about McCarrick’s misconduct. When briefing the pope, they glossed over the accusations, describing them as something “gossiped about” or resolved.
Vatican’s McCarrick report says Pope John Paul II knew of misconduct allegations nearly two decades before cardinal’s removal
In its transparency, the report is a groundbreaking moment in Francis’s papacy, documenting impunity and coverup with the kind of detail advocates and abuse victims have long demanded. But the report also muddles the picture for Catholics of how effectively Francis and his advisers can respond to the broader scourge.
In speaking about the report for the first time, at a general audience Wednesday, Francis was brief. He expressed his “closeness to the victims of all abuse” but did not elaborate on plans to fight abuse within the church. He notably quoted John Paul II, after mentioning it was Poland’s independence day.
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