Vigano, McCarrick and Pope Francis

Discussion in 'General discussion' started by David, Feb 16, 2019.

  1. David

    David Well-Known Member

    This is effectively a continuation of the 'Vigano and Pope Francis' thread at

    The following thorough article from Vatican News is effectively a formal Vatican response to the accusations made against Pope Francis made by Archbishop Vigano last year. Pope Francis had made his own response to Vigano's letter shortly after it was made public saying, "the letter speaks for itself" which indeed it did. But this statement today responds to some of the specific points in the letter.

    Holy See: McCarrick dismissed from the clerical state for abuse

    16 February 2019

    The Holy See announces sanctions against former American Cardinal, Theodore Edgar McCarrick, including dismissal from the clerical state.

    The Holy Press Office has published a statement from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning the case of Theodore Edgar McCarrick.

    The Congresso of the CDF, which investigated the accusations, has issued a decree finding McCarrick “guilty of the following delicts while a cleric: solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power”.

    The Congresso has imposed the penalty of “dismissal from the clerical state”.

    The statement of the CDF notes that McCarrick’s appeal against this decision was considered on 13 February 2019 by the Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “Having examined the arguments in the recourse”, the statement says, “the Ordinary Session confirmed the decree of the Congresso”. McCarrick was notified of the decision on 15 February 2019.

    This decision, following the recognition by the Holy Father, is definitive and admits of no further recourse or appeal.

    History of allegations

    In September 2017, the Archdiocese of New York reported to the Holy See accusations against then-Cardinal McCarrick, for allegedly abusing a male teenager in the 1970’s.

    Pope Francis ordered an in-depth investigation into the allegations, to be carried out by the Archdiocese of New York. At the conclusion of this inquiry, all relevant documentation was transmitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is charged with investigating cases of sexual abuse by the clergy.

    The results of the New York Archdiocesan Review Board investigation, were announced by Cardinal Timothy Dolan in June 2018. The Board found that the allegations against McCarrick were “credible and substantiated”. In his statement, Cardinal Dolan announced that, at the direction of Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, had instructed McCarrick that he was “no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry”.

    The statement also noted that McCarrick had cooperated with the investigation, and accepted the decision of the Holy See, while maintaining his innocence.

    On the same day, the Diocese of Metuchen, and the Archdiocese of Newark, both in New Jersey, revealed that they were aware of past allegations of sexual misconduct by McCarrick, including two that had resulted in legal settlements.

    Resignation from Cardinalate

    In the weeks following the announcement of the initial allegations against McCarrick, news sources published further accusations of misconduct against adult seminarians, as well as additional accusations of abuse of minors.

    On 28 July 2018, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals, and “ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial”.

    Commitment of the Holy See

    On October 6, 2018, a statement of the Holy See strongly affirmed: “Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for Bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable”. The statement reiterates Pope Francis’ “pressing invitation” to “to unite forces to fight against the grave scourge of abuse within and beyond the Church, and to prevent such crimes from being committed in the future to the harm of the most innocent and most vulnerable in society”.

    Ahead of the upcoming meeting in the Vatican of Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences of the world, set to take place from 21 to 24 February 2019, the statement emphasizes the words of Pope Francis in his Letter to the People of God: “the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within” (20 August 2018).

    Letter of Cardinal Ouellet

    On 7 October 2018, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, published an open letter in response to accusations by the former Papal Nuncio to Washington DC, concerning the McCarrick affair. In the letter, Cardinal Ouellet asks how it was possible that a man like McCarrick, could have been promoted on several occasions, to the point of being named Archbishop of Washington and being created a Cardinal. The letter notes that personnel decisions taken by popes are based on the best information available at the time and constitute prudential judgments that are not infallible. Cardinal Ouellet also points out how skillfully McCarrick defended himself against the allegations raised in his regard, and notes that, once real evidence became available, strong decisions were taken.

    Cardinal Ouellet’s letter continues, stating how, during the pontificate of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, McCarrick was “strongly urged” not to travel and not to appear in public. McCarrick disregarded these instructions. Cardinal Ouellet clarifies that these directives were not "sanctions" imposed by Benedict XVI, and repudiates the suggestion that any sanctions were lifted by Pope Francis. He notes also that the present Holy Father "had nothing to do with McCarrick's promotions in New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington”, and removed him from his dignity as a Cardinal when an accusation of abuse of a minor was deemed credible.


    Theodore Edgar McCarrick, 88, was born in New York on 7 July 1930. He was ordained priest by Cardinal Francis Spellman on 31 May 1958. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York in May 1977 by Pope Saint Paul VI, and consecrated on 29 June 1977. Pope Saint John Paul II appointed him first Bishop of Metuchen (1981-1986), Metropolitan Archbishop of Newark (1986-2000), and Metropolitan Archbishop of Washington (2000-2006). On 21 February 2001 he was created Cardinal. McCarrick took part in the conclave of 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.

    Full text of statement from the CDF:

    On 11 January 2019, the Congresso of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the conclusion of a penal process, issued a decree finding Theodore Edgar McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., guilty of the following delicts while a cleric: solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power. The Congresso imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. On 13 February 2019, the Ordinary Session (Feria IV) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith considered the recourse he presented against this decision. Having examined the arguments in the recourse, the Ordinary Session confirmed the decree of the Congresso. This decision was notified to Theodore McCarrick on 15 February 2019. The Holy Father has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (i.e., admitting of no further recourse).
  2. David

    David Well-Known Member

    I think it is appropriate to put here a video of a Vatican press conference this morning on the topic of the abuse crisis meeting taking place at the end of the week with Pope Francis attending throughout. Unusually the video includes an English translation when the speaker is speaking another language although several of the speakers (and journalists) speak in English.

  3. David

    David Well-Known Member

    The following little clip of the Pope speaking to a large group of pilgrims from Padre Pio's home town contains profound but significant words from Francis:

  4. David

    David Well-Known Member

    Pope Francis and Papal Authority under Attack

    Catholics are obliged to manifest reverence and obedience to the Roman Pontiff. While this applies to all the faithful, it especially applies to members of the Catholic clergy and those preparing for the priesthood. Canon 245.2 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law tells us that students in priestly formation "are bound by humble and filial charity to the Roman Pontiff." Canon 273 states that "clerics are bound by a special obligation to show reverence and obedience to the Roman Pontiff and to their own ordinary."

    To attack the person of the pope is to attack his office because the Roman Pontiff is not merely an office holder. Vatican II teaches that “the Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful” (Lumen gentium, 23). The Council of Florence (1439) recognizes the Roman Pontiff as “the head of the whole Church, the father and teacher of all Christians” to whom Christ gave “the full power of feeding, ruling, and governing the whole Church” (Denz.-H 1307). Vatican I (1870) makes it clear that the Bishop of Rome enjoys a supreme power that is “ordinary and immediate… over each and every one of the shepherds and the faithful” (Denz.-H 3064).

    Vatican II reaffirms the Roman Pontiff’s “supreme and full power over the universal Church” (Lumen gentium, 22). It recognizes that the order of bishops “is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head, the Roman Pontiff, and never without this head” (Lumen gentium 22). Bishops must always teach in communion with Peter and under Peter —cum Petro et sub Petro— or they have no authority to teach.

    Popes, of course, can make mistakes in their prudential judgments, and they are liable to sin in their personal lives. Although popes teach with authority, not all of their doctrinal judgments are irreformable. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [CDF], in its 1990 instruction, Donum veritatis, acknowledged as much. The CDF, however, also noted that “it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church's Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission” (n. 24).

    Pope Francis has admitted his mistakes in regard to sex abuse in Chile, and he has also expressed his openness to constructive criticism. Some critics of Francis, however, go beyond constructive criticism and try to undermine his moral and doctrinal authority at every turn. The Church recognizes the right of the faithful “to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.” This, though, must always be done “in truth, in courage and in prudence, with reverence and charity toward those who by reason of their sacred office represent the person of Christ” (Lumen gentium, 37; cf. 1983 CIC canon 212.3).

    Although prudential papal judgments require attentive consideration, papal teachings on faith and morals must be adhered to with “religious submission of mind and will” even when the pope is not speaking ex cathedra. (Lumen gentium25). This religious submission “must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence,” and “the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will” (Lumen gentium 25). Many papal critics, however, fail to manifest proper reverence toward Pope Francis’s teaching authority. They appear to trust their own judgments more than they trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the successor of Peter.

    Over the past several years a concerted assault on the doctrinal and moral authority of Pope Francis has emerged. After the publication of the Holy Father’s 2016 post-synodal exhortation, Amoris laetitia, the papal critics went into high gear.

    In November, 2016, four cardinals made public their dubia submitted to Pope Francis, which implied the Holy Father had departed from the moral doctrine of the Church. Catholic scholars and prelates, however, have defended the orthodoxy of Amoris laetitia and have found that the five dubia are based on misunderstandings of the exhortation as a whole. The critics of Amoris laetitia operate out of a hermeneutic of suspicion rather than the hermeneutic of continuity and reform promoted by Pope Benedict XVI. In September, 2017 a group of scholars publicly issued a Correctio filialis, whichresponded to Pope Francis’s alleged “propagation of heresies” effected by Amoris laetitia and by his “other words, deeds and omissions.” Unfortunately, this “filial correction” violated the rules for respectful theological discourse laid out in 1990 by Cardinal Ratzinger.

    Following Pope Francis’s August 1, 2018 revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty, a group of 75 scholars wrote to the cardinals of the Catholic Church telling them that it was their serious duty— binding on them “before God and before the Church”— to correct Pope Francis for taking a position on capital punishment “contrary to the Word of God.” These critics, however, fail to recognize that the interpretation of Scripture is subject to the judgment of the Church’s magisterium and not their own (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12). They also assume that their understanding of the Church’s tradition on the death penalty is correct when, in fact, it has been challenged by reputable Catholic scholars.

    Later that same month, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio to the USA, wrote an 11-page dossier criticizing numerous cardinals and bishops by name and calling upon Pope Francis to resign because of his alleged lifting of sanctions against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The accuracy of Viganò’s accusations have been seriously questioned by Catholic scholars such as Andrea Tornielli and Gianni Valente who have co-authored a book on the Viganò affair entitled The Day of Judgment (Il Giorno del Giudizio).

    More recently, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has issued a doctrinal “manifesto,” which has been perceived as an implicit correction of alleged errors of Pope Francis. Although there are many affirmations in this manifesto that all Catholics can affirm, there are also some serious omissions. Cardinal Müller laments the fact that “today many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith.” But this ignorance of the faith has always been true in certain parts of the world since the earliest days of the Church. It is wrong to imply that this ignorance has suddenly arisen under the pontificate of Francis.

    The most notable omission in the Müller manifesto is the complete absence of any mention of the ministry of the Roman Pontiff or the present Holy Father. Müller should know that his teaching authority as a bishop and cardinal must be exercised in communion with the Bishop of Rome, for “the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head” (Lumen gentium, 22).

    In an October 9, 2017 interview with the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Müller stated: “I firmly maintain my fidelity to Pope Francis, to whom I devoted myself as a loyal cooperator.” If his Eminence is a loyal cooperator with Pope Francis and the Petrine ministry, he needs to explain why his manifesto avoids any mention of these essential aspects of the Catholic faith. Cardinal Müller must be aware that his manifesto is being perceived as a thinly veiled attack on Pope Francis. If this is not the case, his Eminence needs to say so and reaffirm his loyalty to the Holy Father.

    The most recent attacks against Pope Francis are over his joint document with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahamad Al-Tayyib entitled A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. One Catholic philosopher has accused Pope Francis of heresy for stating that “the pluralism and diversity of religions … are willed by God.” This philosopher, unfortunately, forgets the teaching of Vatican I that "by his providence God protects and governs all things that he has made … For 'all are open and laid bare to his eyes' [Heb 4:13], even those done by the free action of creatures" (Denz.-H. 3003). If all things are governed by divine providence, then certainly the existence of diverse religions is included.

    God positively willed that diverse religions would arise within various cultures, because the elements of truth and holiness found within them could serve as a “preparation for the Gospel.” This is a fundamental principle of the Second Vatican Council, one of its most significant contributions to the Church’s understanding of its relationship with other religions and its call to mission. Its principles are laid down in Lumen gentium, 16 and 17, and are further elucidated in Ad gentes, 3 and 11 (which speak of the “seeds of the Word”) and Nostra aetate, 2. To question this teaching is to question the authority of the Council itself.

    Many of the critics of Pope Francis wish to minimize papal authority. A well-known Dominican theologian, alarmed by what he perceives as errors in Amoris laetitia, has proposed changes to canon law that would allow popes who teach error to be corrected or removed from office. Others, while stopping short of calling Francis a heretic, have appealed to past examples of papal error to justify their criticisms of the pope—even though these alleged errors have been shown not to be heretical. One well-known canonist, in opposition to Pope Francis’s changes to the Catechism on capital punishment, has actually argued that there is “no such thing as a ‘purely papal’ ordinary magisterium.” The clear implication is that, apart from ex cathedra definitions, the Roman Pontiff cannot teach with authority via his ordinary magisterium without the consent of the bishops.

    Most of the papal critics seem to have one feature in common: the belief that they know the doctrine of the Church better than the pope. In the fifteenth century, the Conciliarists believed that a general council had authority over the pope. Now the papal critics try to assert their authority over the pope, and they coordinate their efforts via blogs, journals, and other media with the support of wealthy donors (mostly from the USA) and various prelates who dislike Jorge Mario Bergoglio. They look for supposed doctrinal errors and heresies in any document Pope Francis issues, and then they accuse him of failing to address the doctrinal confusions that they themselves have created.

    There is, of course, room for respectful and responsible criticisms of prudential decisions made by the pope. Difficulties with papal documents, however, should be addressed according to the guidelines of the 1990 instruction, Donum veritatis, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This document teaches that communications of difficulties with magisterial documents must be done “in an evangelical spirit and with a profound desire to resolve the difficulties” (n. 30). It also warns against presenting one’s own opinions “as though they were non-arguable conclusions” (n. 27). Some of the articles and petitions of the papal critics, however, fail to observe this admonition. Those who appealed to the cardinals to correct Pope Francis on the death penalty expressed their dismay that “the present Roman Pontiff has now more than once publicly manifested his refusal to teach” what they consider to be the correct teaching on capital punishment. Such an attitude completely contradicts Donum veritatis, and it comes across as rash and presumptuous.

    What is clearly lacking in the papal critics is humility and trust in the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Roman Pontiff. They evidently don’t realize they are hurting the Church with their persistent efforts to undermine the doctrinal and moral authority of Pope Francis. Popes are human beings, but they are guided and protected by the Holy Spirit. The papal critics would do well to consider what the Congregation for the Doctrine taught in its 1998 document, signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, concerning papal primacy:

    Peter, a weak man, was chosen as the rock precisely so that everyone could see that victory belongs to Christ alone and is not the result of human efforts. Down the ages the Lord has wished to put his treasure in fragile vessels: human frailty has thus become a sign of the truth of God's promises. … We are all invited to trust in the Holy Spirit, to trust in Christ, by trusting in Peter (n. 15).
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
    andree likes this.
  5. andree

    andree Well-Known Member

    An excellent article David, thank you. A great resource too, complete with links to all related articles. God Bless Pope Francis.
  6. David

    David Well-Known Member

    I thought it would be very appropriate to copy here the very latest message from Vassula that has just been sent out but which is not yet on the TLIG website. Jesus really does seem to be speaking very clearly and specifically about the Church of today.

    December 14, 2018

    My Vassula, balm on My Body,

    Your Church, Lord…

    yes; My Body is filled with thorns of each species…(1) misery and distress have reduced My Body which is My Church into a lamentation book; now at any time Saint Michael My Archangel will stand up, and all nations will taste what they had sown; the corrupt will stagger in their distress while they realize where their conduct led their soul to be; and a piercing cry of agony will shake the foundation of the earth, but the faithful and the pure will remain unscathed!
    I look sadly at My Church today and She still lies scattered as the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision, empty from the Spirit; I have sent famine among nations as a reminder, that without Me, divorced from Me, your lives will remain in desolation and in poverty; I have sent turbulence among nations to remind you of your true foundations; fire and brimstone will be displayed soon to acknowledge your sinfulness, and if you do, I shall keep you to Myself;
    do you know what those thorns have done to My Body? they have planted themselves in My Body in such a way, that they may be able to grow roots, they have rooted themselves in My Body and their roots have grown now into venomous thistles; these thistles committed crimes in my Body resembling the crimes of Sodom, perversity, pride, gluttony, arrogance, complacency, adultery and adding filthy practices;

    ah, Lord, You had asked me years back to pull out the thorns from Your Body, but have I neglected to do so? have I failed You? why so many thorns still lie in Your Body?

    ah, Vassula, you have not failed Me, I have been watching your efforts to pull out of My Body those thorns;

    but it seems I have somehow not been able to pull out all of them, and You seem to suffer…

    no, Vassula, you have indeed consoled Me, all of your efforts were not in vain; at all moments your hand never stopped pulling out those thorns, some were uprooted, others remained in My Body since these were hiding in dark corners growing into venomous trees; these are beyond human strength of uprooting them;

    so what can one do?

    the only way to uproot them will be by My Own Hand; I will have to burn their roots, snap their branches and in their place plant vineyards, and the vineyards will bear their fruit!

    disciple of Mine; look around you and you can tell; is there any nation that does not spread terror through the world of the living? indeed your era is an era of darkness, a vision of horror! pain and tribulation has become your daily bread, generation, decreasing your life span and here I Am, giving you signs of My Presence among you, oh, but how indifferent you are! here I Am stretching out My Hands to save you and free you from your misery; have I become so unnoticeable to you, generation? is there any austerity in My Presence? or in My appearance? who tells you that I hardly forgive your sins when you repent? according to grace when you repent I forgive and forget;
    in your age and time, generation, I am sending you the Holy Spirit to revive you, with urgency; I form apostles, prophets to renew My Church; when the stench of decay has reached Heaven through the complacency of My shepherds; do you remember what I said to you at your dining table once? (2)
    yes! love is missing! replace those thorns in My Body with the virtue of love; let its root be embodied deep in My Body, water it with prayer and with faith and hope, and I shall shed My Light on it to allow it to grow watching it as it grows into holiness; among those who will take root in My Body, My Presence too will be among you; and people will be heard saying: 'look, here God lives among human beings;' and I will confirm what I have said in the past: 'look! I am making the whole of My creation new,' I am renewing My creation, I am pouring unutterably My Holy Spirit in this dead era of yours to redeem you from the enemy; I will shed My Light on your minds and lift up the veil covering your eyes and bring to your memory who I Am; and you will return to Me;

    and in those days every knee shall bend low before Me, and all who were going down the alley of dust will lower themselves and will revere Me; in the end all generations to come, will proclaim My Name, telling people of My saving help…

    daughter-of-the-King, I have been courting you with oil of gladness as none other among your generation; My Sceptre of Royalty is a Sceptre of kindness and mercy, placed on your wrist to enable you to pen down My Words in this noble theme, addressing you through you a Poem, an Ode,

    Vassula, My strength will keep upholding you to keep acclaiming to the Churches My unfailing Love; you delight Me, flower of My Heart, your Bridegroom is near you all the time; be blessed upload_2019-3-21_14-17-25.png ic

    1. I heard simultaneously the word 'kind'
    2. that was more than 30 years ago, when I asked Jesus, 'what's missing?' He replied: 'Love is missing…'
    Rebecca1993 likes this.
  7. Radhe

    Radhe Well-Known Member

    That message I cant get out of my mind since I read it...I have been thinking a lot when will all this end? This horrific apostasy not only that remonstrating with myself why cant I do more for the Lord .
    Look at the demoniac forces manifest now . Exorcists saying exorcisms are taking longer...and are more difficult...

    Am thinking -Cosmic tragedy - before this all ends and the new era begins....
    How are you all getting on ?
    Please remember each other in prayers
  8. David

    David Well-Known Member

    As a completion of this thread I think it is appropriate to post here the following article by Andrea Tornielli which introduces and summarises the final Vatican report on the McCarrick saga. The report in full can be downloaded HERE.

    McCarrick Report: a sorrowful page the Church is learning from
    A reading of the dossier published by the Secretariat of State containing documents and testimonies narrating the facts regarding the former cardinal archbishop of Washington dismissed from the clerical state.

    By Andrea Tornielli

    At the time of Theodore McCarrick’s appointment as Archbishop of Washington in 2000, the Holy See acted on the basis of partial and incomplete information. What has now come to light are omissions, underestimations, and choices that later proved to be wrong, due in part to the fact that, during the assessment process requested by Rome at the time, those questioned did not always disclose all they knew. Until 2017, there had never been any precise accusation regarding sexual abuse or harassment or harm done to a minor. As soon as the first report was received from a victim who was a minor at the time the abuse was committed, Pope Francis reacted promptly regarding the elderly cardinal, who had already retired as head of the archdiocese in 2006, first taking away his red hat and then dismissing him from the clerical state. This is what emerges from the Report on the Holy See’s Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017) published by the Secretariat of State.

    A detailed response
    The compilation and publication of the Report itself, given its extensiveness and content, responds to the request of Pope Francis that decision-making regarding McCarrick be thoroughly investigated and that the results of the investigation be published. The Report also represents an act of pastoral care by the Pope for the American Catholic community that was wounded and anguished that McCarrick had been appointed and promoted to high office in the Church. The investigation carried out during these two years was commenced toward the end of summer 2018, during weeks of considerable tension culminating in the denunciation by the former Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, Carlo Maria Viganò, who, in an international media campaign, publicly called for the resignation of the current Pontiff.

    Absence of accusations of sexual abuse of minors until 2017
    The strength of the Report lies not only in its completeness but also in the overview it provides. From this overview, a few key points emerge that are necessary to consider. The first point concerns the mistakes that were made; these have already led to the adoption of new regulations within the Church, to help avoid history repeating itself. A second element is that, until 2017, there had been no specific accusations regarding the sexual abuse of minors committed by McCarrick. It is true that in the 1990s several anonymous letters alluding to minor abuse had been received by cardinals and in the nunciature in Washington, but without providing any details, names or circumstances: these letters were regrettably considered to be not credible because of the lack of concrete elements. The first specific accusation involving a minor was, in fact, that which emerged three years ago, which led to the immediate opening of a canonical process that concluded with the two decisions taken by Pope Francis – the first of which took away the red hat from the Cardinal emeritus and the second that dismissed him from the clerical state. Those who came forward to testify against McCarrick as the canonical process unfolded are to be commended for having allowed their truth to be known and should be thanked for having done so while overcoming the pain of remembering all that they have been through.

    Assessment before the Pope’s apostolic visit
    The Report shows that at the time he was first listed as an episcopal candidate (1977), as well as when he was appointed to Metuchen (1981), and then to Newark (1986), none of the people consulted to provide information furnished negative information regarding Theodore McCarrick’s moral conduct. The first informal “assessment” of some accusations regarding the then Archbishop of Newark’s conduct toward seminarians and priests from his diocese surfaced in the mid-1990s, before Pope John Paul II’s visit to that city. It was the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, John O’Connor, who carried out the assessment: he asked others, including American bishops, for information and then concluded that there was no “impediment” to a papal visit to the city in which McCarrick was pastor at that moment.

    Cardinal O’Connor’s letter
    A crucial point in the case is certainly McCarrick’s appointment as Archbishop of Washington. During the months in which McCarrick’s possible transfer to a see in the United States traditionally led by a cardinal surfaced, notable among the several positive influential opinions regarding his person is a negative one from Cardinal O’Connor. While acknowledging that he did not have first-hand information, the Cardinal explained in a letter, dated October 28, 1999, addressed to the Apostolic Nuncio, that he believed that McCarrick’s appointment to a new office would be a mistake: that, in fact, the risk of a serious scandal existed in light of the rumors that McCarrick had in the past shared a bed with young adult men at the rectory and seminarians at a beach house.

    Pope John Paul II’s first decision
    In this regard, it is important to highlight the initial decision made by Pope John Paul II. The Pope, in fact, asked the Nuncio to verify the basis of these accusations. Once again, the written investigation does not contain any concrete proof – in fact, three of the four bishops from New Jersey who were consulted provided information which the Report reveals to have been “not accurate and incomplete”. Even though the Pope had known McCarrick since 1976, having met him during his trip to the United States, he accepted the proposal of the then Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, Gabriel Montalvo, and of the then prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, Giovanni Battista Re, to drop him as a candidate. They argued that even in the absence of specific details, the risk should not be taken of transferring the prelate to Washington. They believed that the accusations, even though they were considered groundless, could resurface and cause embarrassment and scandal. McCarrick, therefore, seemed destined to remain in Newark.

    McCarrick’s letter to the Pope
    Something happened that radically changed the course of events. McCarrick himself, after having evidently become aware both that he was a candidate, and of the reservations in his regard, wrote to then Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, personal secretary to the Polish Pontiff on August 6, 2000. McCarrick declared himself innocent and swore that he had “never had sexual relations with any person, male or female, young or old, cleric or lay”. Pope John Paul II read the letter and was convinced that the American Archbishop was telling the truth and that the negative “rumors” were precisely that – solely rumors that were unfounded, or at least unproven. It was, therefore, Pope John Paul II, acting through specific directions imparted to then-Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, who established that McCarrick should be reinstated on the shortlist of candidates. And it was he who, in the end, chose McCarrick for the see of Washington. In accordance with the testimonies cited in the Report, to better understand the context of that period, it may be useful also to recall that during the years when he was an Archbishop in Poland, Pope John Paul II had witnessed the use of false accusations on the part of the regime to discredit priests and bishops.

    Pope Benedict’s decision
    Furthermore, at the time of his appointment as Archbishop of Washington, no victim – adult or minor – had as yet made contact with the Holy See or with the Nuncio in the United States to present an accusation regarding any improper behavior attributed to the Archbishop. Moreover, nothing inappropriate about McCarrick’s behavior was reported during his years as Archbishop in Washington. When, in 2005, accusations of harassment and abuse toward adults began to surface once again, the new pope, Benedict XVI, rapidly asked for the resignation of the American cardinal to whom he had recently granted a two-year extension of his mandate. In 2006, McCarrick left his position as head of the Archdiocese of Washington, becoming its Archbishop emeritus. The Report demonstrates that in this period, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in his capacity as delegate for Papal Representatives, had reported information about McCarrick’s possible involvement with adults that had arrived from the nunciature to his superiors in the Secretary of State, highlighting its seriousness. But, while he raised the alarm, he too understood that there were no proven facts. Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone presented the matter directly to Pope Benedict XVI. In that context, in the absence of victims who were minors, and since the person concerned was a cardinal who had already retired from office, Pope Benedict XVI did not open a formal canonical process to investigate McCarrick.

    Recommendations, not sanctions
    In the years that followed, notwithstanding the indications McCarrick received from the Congregation for Bishops to lead a more quiet and reserved life and to decline frequent appearances in public, the cardinal continued to move about, traveling from one part of the globe to the other, Rome included, generally with the knowledge and at least tacit approval of the Papal Nuncio. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the true substance of the request McCarrick received from the Holy See to lead a more withdrawn life. From the documents and testimonies now published in the Report, it is evident that “sanctions” were never imposed. They were, rather, recommendations, given to him orally in 2006 and then in writing in 2008, without stating that this was an explicit desire on the part of Pope Benedict XVI. They were recommendations that presupposed McCarrick’s good will and willingness to respect them. The fact that the cardinal remained active, that he continued to travel, and that he accomplished various missions in different countries (out of which came useful information), even though he had no mandate from the Holy See, shows that his activity was tolerated. Having received in 2012 a new accusation against McCarrick, Viganò, who in the meantime had been appointed nuncio in the United States, received instructions from the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops to investigate. However, the Report shows that he did not carry out all of the investigations that had been asked of him. Furthermore, continuing to follow the same approach used until that moment, he did not take significant steps to limit McCarrick’s activity, or his national and international travels.

    The process opened by Francis
    When Pope Francis was elected, McCarrick was already over eighty years old and was, therefore, excluded from the conclave. His customary travels underwent no change, and the new Pope was not given documents or testimony to make him aware of the seriousness of the accusations, involving adults, against the former Archbishop of Washington. What was communicated to Pope Francis was that there had been allegations and “rumors related to immoral conduct with adults” prior to McCarrick’s appointment to Washington. Since, in his view, the accusations had been investigated and had been rejected by Pope John Paul II, and well-aware that McCarrick had remained active during Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, Pope Francis did not think it was necessary to modify “the course adopted by his predecessors”. It is, therefore, not true that he annulled or weakened the sanctions or restrictions placed on the Archbishop emeritus. Everything changed, as already mentioned, when the first accusation of sexual abuse of a minor emerged. The response was immediate. A rapid canonical process concluded with the serious and unprecedented measure of dismissal from the clerical state of a former Cardinal.

    What the Church has learned
    What has been recounted in the massive amount of testimonies and documents which have now been provided through the Report is, without doubt, a tragic page in the recent history of Catholicism, a painful story from which the entire Church has learned. In fact, it is possible to read several of the measures that Pope Francis took after the February 2019 Meeting on the Protection of Minors through the lens of the McCarrick case. One can see this, for example, in the Motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, which contains instructions regarding the exchange of information between the Dicasteries and between Rome and the local Churches, the involvement of the Metropolitan in the initial investigation, the indication that accusations be assessed quickly, as well as the abrogation of the pontifical secret. All these decisions have taken into consideration what happened, learning from what was not working, from procedures that were not flowing properly, from underestimates that had unfortunately been made at various levels. The Church continues to learn from its fight against the phenomenon of sexual abuse, including in this case. This became evident also in July 2020 with the publication of the Vademecum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that invited pastors and heads of religious orders not to automatically discard anonymous denunciations.

    Humility and penitence
    This, therefore, is the overall picture that emerges from the documentation presented in the Report, following the reconstruction of a reality that is certainly more detailed and complex in respect to what was hitherto known. In the last two decades, the Catholic Church has become more aware of the unspeakable anguish of victims, of the necessity to guarantee the protection of minors, of the importance of norms capable of combatting this phenomenon. The Church has also become more aware of the need to protect against abuse committed against vulnerable adults, and has become more aware of the need to protect against abuse of power. For the Catholic Church, in the United States and in Rome, the case of Theodore McCarrick – a prelate possessing considerable intelligence and preparation, capable of weaving together many relationships both in the political as well as in the inter-religious level – remains an open wound, first and foremost for the pain and suffering caused to his victims. This wound cannot be treated solely with new laws or ever more effective codes of conduct, because the crime is also a sin. To heal this wound, humility and penitence is needed, asking God’s forgiveness and healing.
  9. David

    David Well-Known Member

Share This Page