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Cardinal-Designate Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington Cardinal-Designate Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington  (AFP or licensors)

McCarrick Report: reactions & considerations from the US Church

US bishops react to the release of the McCarrick Report with sorrow, but also with gratitude for the important and ongoing process to eradicate clerical sex abuse, and promises to rebuild trust and earn the confidence of the faithful.

By Vatican News staff writer

The release by the Vatican of the McCarrick Report that details the Church’s knowledge, decision-making, and investigation related to former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick from the years of 1930 to 2017, has been received by Church officials in the United States with sorrow and expressions of closeness to the victims of abuse. It has also been received with the promise to continue to serve the ongoing process to eradicate clerical sex abuse and to rebuild trust and confidence in the Universal Church.

The 461-page report was prepared by the Secretariat of State by mandate of Pope Francis.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley

Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley - who also serves as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors - described the report as “a painful and shameful account of how someone in McCarrick’s position rose to the role of bishop and cardinal and caused so much harm to so many. “

“In word and deed, Pope Francis has followed through on his commitment to a comprehensive, transparent and thorough investigation,” he said, upholding the courageous role of McCarrick’s victims who came forward in this investigation.

It is to them, he said, and to all victims of clergy abuse that “we offer our commitment to take responsibility for our failures and our continued resolve of responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

He said it is no longer enough for the Church to simply ask for forgiveness, to pledge transparency and apologize, and reiterated an obligation to hold accountable those responsible for such reprehensible violations of human dignity and ensure that every effort is being made to assure the safety of our people.”

Cardinal O’Malley concluded assuring the faithful that reporting systems that have been set up to respond to the issue of clergy sexual abuse are providing a means for any person to report allegations of abuse against a bishop or cardinal” and he promised to carefully review the findings of this report and continue to serve in the ongoing process to eradicate the scourge of clergy sexual abuse.

Cardinal-Designate Wilton Gregory

“My heart hurts for all who will be shocked, saddened, scandalized and angered by the revelations contained” in the report, said Cardinal-Designate Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington. “Nonetheless, we know that if true redemptive healing is ever to commence – for those who have been harmed and for the Church Herself – this disclosure must be made.”

 

The Cardinal-Designate promised he will take more time to study the report more closely, “especially as it relates to our Archdiocese of Washington, and I will have more to say,” and concluded noting, “This is an important, difficult and necessary document, and it demands prayerful, thorough and thoughtful reflection.”

Meanwhile the Archdiocese of Washington reaffirmed its commitment to protecting minors and bring healing to those harmed, and reiterated its adherence and implementation of the Archdiocese’s Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin

In a statement, the Archbishop of Newark, Cardinal Joseph Tobin and the Archdiocese commend “the leadership of Pope Francis and the Holy See in seeking to bring collective healing to victims of Theodore McCarrick and all those who have suffered because of clergy sexual abuse, while attempting to restore justice for the Catholic community that has been so grievously wounded by sexual abuse, abuse of power and the mishandling of allegations.”

The Cardinal described the report as a significant and powerful step forward in advancing accountability and transparency regarding sexual abuse.

He noted that “beyond the victims themselves, failures by some leaders in the Catholic Church have wounded many including the families and loved ones of victims and the faithful.”

While recognizing that the Church has made progress in responding to clergy abuse by implementing and updating policies and programs to safeguard the faithful, the statement said the Archdiocese of Newark expressed its hopes that “the Report will provide insights that will help us to strengthen further our well-established programs aimed at protecting the faithful.”

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, described the release of the report as “a necessary step in helping us to understand the case of Theodore McCarrick,” and said he looks forward to studying it carefully.  

He echoed the sincere and deep sorrow of his brother bishops for “any who have suffered sexual abuse, and for the family members and loved ones of victim-survivors who have also suffered as a result of these sins and crimes.”

The Cardinal expressed gratitude for those victim-survivors who bravely came forward, bringing this matter to light and “proving that anyone who has abused a minor, even a Cardinal, will be punished.” 

He also expressed gratitude to Pope Francis and the Holy See for the way this case has been handled: “When the first allegation was reported to the Archdiocese of New York’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, we asked the Vatican for permission to have it investigated by the D.A. and our outside professionals, and have the entire matter judged by our lay review board. The word came back: Pope Francis requests that you handle this case as you would for any priest accused of abuse.”

Cardinal Dolan noted that the trust that Pope displayed in the process followed by his archdiocese - and in similar processes followed by all other dioceses in the United States - was very affirming.

He said he hopes it will lead “to others having the confidence to come forward, knowing that their allegations will be handled seriously, sensitively, and appropriately,” and said it is most encouraging that the “Holy See followed through on its assurance that, at the request of the American bishops, a complete study of the dismal case of Theodore McCarrick would be undertaken and published.”

Cardinal Dolan renewed his plea to any person who has suffered abuse to go immediately to the District Attorney to report it. He also invited those who may have suffered abuse by a priest or deacon of the archdiocese, “to also reach out as well to our Victims’ Assistance Coordinator, so that we might take appropriate steps.”

Finally, he concluded, “let me request that all people of good will, Catholic or not, remember in prayer all victims of sexual abuse, a heinous crime that afflicts all segments of society, ruins lives, and destroys families, that we will one day be able to put an end to this evil, and bring comfort and healing to all who suffer.”

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

The Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich described the release of the report as an “unprecedented and a watershed moment as it pulls back the curtain on a culture of clericalism that has separated the clergy from the people they have been ordained to serve.”

He said that while it makes for painful reading, “it is fearless in admitting the failures of church leaders,” and “another example of Pope Francis’ commitment to responsibility, accountability and transparency to all victim-survivors and others” who have suffered from abuse and misconduct by the clergy, including Bishops, of the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Cupich said he is grateful to Pope Francis for ordering the report and to those who carried out his mandate, and reiterated his belief it should “be read in full and in the context of the strong direction provided by Pope Francis at the 2019 summit on these matters and the subsequent measures he has taken.”

The Cardinal concludes quoting the apostolic letter Vos Estis Lux Mundi, in which the Pope calls us to eliminate “the sin of clericalism, hear the cries of the victims and place the faithful, especially children, at the heart of everything we do and every judgment we make in working to prevent abuse and to support those affected by this tragedy.”

“Let us seize this moment,” he said “build on what we have already done and go forward in fidelity to the call of Christ to protect the most vulnerable among us. “

11 November 2020, 13:51