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McCarrick Report Published by Vatican

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

A 426-page report published by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State has been made public after more than two years of speculation and intrigue regarding what, if anything, the Vatican investigation of the former powerful Cardinal Theodore McCarrick would find. However, the lengthy report reveals nothing new in the sage of the now-defrocked 90-year-old McCarrick.

Blame Directed at Saint John Paul II

The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reports that the publication blames now Saint John Paul II for allowing McCarrick to continue his rise through the ranks of the US Catholic hierarchy while absolving current Pope Francis of wrongdoing or knowledge of McCarrick’s past abuse. 

The Report never addresses the fact that Pope Francis allowed McCarrick to resume his diplomatic missions after he assumed the papacy in 2013, in spite of the fact that Pope Benedict has suspended him and prohibited him from such activity.

The Report itself states, “Because this Report is focused on institutional knowledge and decision-making related to McCarrick, only the accounts that were known to Holy See officials or to members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in the United States before late 2017 are set forth in the Report, with victims’ consent and approval.”

Findings In the Report

In the ensuing chapters, the Report often concludes in a similar fashion by absolving the hierarchy of any knowledge of McCarrick’s sexual abuse of children or inappropriate involvement with seminarians.  This is a typical excerpt of the Report’s findings:

“The investigation determined that Cardinal Egan, the former Archbishop of New York, had been aware of lawsuits filed in 2005 and 2007 by a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, alleging that McCarrick had “slept with several Newark Archdiocesan seminarians when he was Archbishop of Newark.”1403The investigation did not find evidence sufficient to conclude that anyone else in the leadership of the Archdiocese was aware of these allegations, or had any direct knowledge of abuse or misconduct by McCarrick, either with seminarians or minors.”

Some conclusions drawn by the author(s) are incredulous, including the one about how McCarrick’s fundraising prowess did not influence his rise in the clerical ranks.

“Overall, the record appears to show that although McCarrick’s fundraising skills were weighed heavily, they were not determinative with respect to major decisions made relating to McCarrick, including his appointment to Washington in 2000. In addition, the examination did not reveal evidence that McCarrick’s customary gift-giving and donations impacted significant decisions made by the Holy See regarding McCarrick during any period.”

Since the Report is voluminous and will require time and effort to read, determinative judgments about its impact and influence concerning the future of the Catholic Church’s handling of child sexual abuse cannot be made at this time.  It remains a mystery how a sexual predator was allowed and indeed encouraged to rise to one of the most powerful positions in the US Catholic Church.

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