By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Cardinal Sean O’Malley issued a statement on Tuesday addressing the news regarding accusations of sexual impropriety against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Troubling and devastating reports
“I am deeply troubled by these reports that have traumatized many Catholics and members of the wider community”, Cardinal O’Malley writes. The Cardinal also acknowledges that such reports are “devastating for the victims, their families and for the Church itself”. Cardinal O’Malley clearly states that each new case reported causes people to doubt that the Church is “effectively addressing this catastrophe”.
More than apologies
More than the issuing of apologies, Cardinal is calling for clearer procedures for cases involving bishops. In addition, protocol is still needed, he says, to “provide justice for the victims”, and a response to the “legitimate indignation of the community”. Swift and decisive action must accompany any claim of sexual abuse, Cardinal O’Malley says. In any case of abuse, the victim, their family, and loved ones must come first.
Lines of action
Based on his experience in various dioceses as well as on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection Minors, the Cardinal offers three actions he believes necessary in light of the accusations against Cardinal McCarrick.
1. Fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations
2. Assessment of the adequacy of standards and policies in the Church at every level,
and especially in the case of bishops
3. Clear communication to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for
reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals
Cardinal O’Malley concludes his statement saying that, should these actions not be implemented, “the already weakened moral authority of the Church” will be further threatened and endangered. In the end the “trust required for the Church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society” can be destroyed.
In this moment there is no greater imperative for the Church than to hold itself accountable to address these matters, which I will bring to my upcoming meetings with the Holy See with great urgency and concern.