The Vatican Has Failed to Give Answers on Cardinal’s Disgrace
By Sohrab Ahmari
New York Post
October 17, 2018
The Catholic Church hierarchy has descended on Rome this month, and the theme of the gathering is youth. Pope Francis wants his bishops to figure out how to “help the church better accompany all young people in a joyful life.” That’s a worthy goal, but documents drafted by the bishops in the dense jargon of “Vaticanese” are unlikely to achieve it.
Not so long as a certain disgraced prelate casts a shadow across the Catholic world.
I’m speaking of Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington who resigned his cardinal’s hat this summer after church authorities determined that he stood credibly accused of abusing underage boys decades earlier.
The revelations prompted a former Holy See envoy, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, to spill the beans about an alleged conspiracy of silence that had protected McCarrick and facilitated his brilliant ecclesial career. The conspiracy, Vigano said, involved several American and Italian prelates, among them McCarrick’s successor in Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
Most explosively, Vigano claimed that in 2013 he alerted the then newly elected Pope Francis of McCarrick’s depraved past. But the Argentine pontiff chose to rehabilitate McCarrick anyway, per Vigano, disregarding private sanctions imposed on the perverted cardinal by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Since then, Francis has refused to confirm or deny that he knew about McCarrick. Getting Rome to agree to a full investigation of its archives was like pulling teeth.
Faithful Catholics await the outcome of that inquiry, but meanwhile the McCarrick-Vigano affair continues to enrage and baffle, especially because so few high churchmen have stepped forward to take responsibility, to speak honestly and from the heart, or at least to offer plausible explanations for why they didn’t know what “everyone knew” about McCarrick.
Cardinal Wuerl, whose resignation Rome finally accepted this month, remained serene and glib to the end. “Once again, for any past errors in judgment, I apologize and ask for pardon” was all that he offered by way of personal accountability in his goodbye statement.
His eminence still hasn’t clarified how it was that he canceled a public appearance by McCarrick in 2013, suggesting that there were sanctions against him and that Wuerl knew about these sanctions.
Then there’s Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, who maintains that he didn’t bother looking into the McCarrick rumors because they were “too incredulous to believe.” When the Vigano testimony appeared, his archdiocesan statement expressed “shock, sadness, and consternation,” not at McCarrick’s rise through the ranks, but at the actions of . . . Vigano. And when Shannon Last, a Catholic mother and speechwriter, complained about the statement on Twitter, the Newark archdiocese’s official account blocked her.
“Accompaniment” is the unofficial motto of the current pontificate, yet it is a favor rarely extended to conservatives and other critics who ask too many questions.
Now word is that Tobin is considered among the leading candidates to replace Weurl in Washington — talk about a slap in the face, if that happens.
The Rome-based, Irish-American Cardinal Kevin Farrell likewise continues to deny all knowledge of McCarrick’s past with an obstinacy seemingly designed to insult the intelligence of anyone paying attention. Farrell was McCarrick’s protege and the two lived in the same residence for several years.
Still others, following Cardinal Tobin’s footsteps, have resolved that the best course of action is to viciously attack the messenger. This month, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian who runs the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, published a fiery open letter to Vigano all but accusing the whistleblower of heresy.
But buried amid all the vituperation was a startling allusion to “what I mentioned to you verbally about [McCarrick’s] situation as Bishop emeritus and certain conditions and restrictions that he had to follow on account of some rumors about his past conduct.”
Vigano, then, still stands unrefuted. There were sanctions against McCarrick, and the hierarchs implicated by Vigano still need to answer for how the predator-prelate seemingly got around them, particularly after Pope Francis ascended Saint Peter’s throne. Otherwise, their calls on young Catholics to live lives of “responsibility” will ring hollow.