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Cardinal Theodore McCarrick attends a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in 2005.Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images


February 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – It has now been a few days following the Vatican's announcement of Theodore McCarrick’s laicization. It remains to be seen, however, whether the disgraced former cardinal is at all repentant for the untold damage caused by his serial sexual predation of young boys, seminarians, and priests over decades.

The Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued its finding January 11 that McCarrick was guilty of solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, breaking the Sixth Commandment with both minors and adults, and abuse of power. His priestly faculties were consequently stripped from him.  

But the decision was not completely final until February 15, because McCarrick fought it.

The CDF “considered the recourse he presented against this decision,” on February 13, its statement released Saturday said, and “Having examined the arguments in the recourse,” the CDF confirmed its decree, informing McCarrick February 15 before its announcement the following day.

Along with the question of McCarrick’s penitence is whether the Church under Pope Francis will authentically address its clergy sexual abuse crisis.

McCarrick, the first U.S. cardinal to be laicized, will stay in Church-provided accommodations for the time being, according to the Kansas diocese where the friary that’s been housing him is located.

“Mr. McCarrick will continue to reside at the St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria until a decision of permanent residence is finalized,” a Diocese of Salina statement said. 

McCarrick, 88, had been moved to St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas, in September after Pope Francis ordered him to live “a life of prayer and penance” during the investigation into his actions. Salina Bishop Gerald Vincke has said his diocese was not incurring any cost in putting McCarrick up. 


The Archdiocese of New York announced last June 20 that allegations McCarrick molested a minor-aged altar boy decades ago were “credible and substantiated.” McCarrick said at the time he had “absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse and believe in my innocence.”

Other alleged victims have since come forward with sexual abuse charges against McCarrick, including — aside from individuals who were minors at the time — priests and seminarians. Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals in July, suspending him from public ministry, leading to McCarrick being sent to the Kansa friary. The chosen location remains controversial for its proximity to an elementary school as well as a high school. 

The US Bishops’ Conference called for a Vatican-led investigation into McCarrick’s abuse and its cover-up in August.

On August 25 former U.S. apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released his bombshell testimony charging that Francis knew about sanctions levied upon McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI, but chose to rescind them. Francis has yet to address Viganò’s charges and to date they’ve not been refuted.

The pope called the presidents of the world’s episcopal conferences to a summit on abuse of minors in September. Later that month the USCCB’s Administrative Committee announced new accountability measures, which included a code of conduct for bishops and creation of an independent reporting method for complaints against bishops. The Committee called as well for a full investigation into McCarrick and the Church’s response to allegations against him.

The Vatican announced October 6 that Francis had ordered a review of Vatican files concerning allegations of sexual misconduct against McCarrick. It has yet to release the findings of its investigation into its own archives on McCarrick.

In November as the US Bishops were about to vote on the proposed measures on addressing abuse before them, the Vatican intervened and directed the Conference to hold off voting until after Francis’ global summit on abuse of minors. At that same meeting the US Bishop failed to pass a resolution to “encourage” the Vatican to release all documents pertaining to the McCarrick allegations.

On December 27 James Grein, one of the victims to come forth saying McCarrick had abused him as a minor, testified in a canonical deposition conducted by the Archdiocese of New York that McCarrick’s serial sexual abuse of him began when he was 11 years old.  

Whistleblower, victim fearing for their life, safety

Of great note in the Church’s sexual abuse scandal is that Viganò has had to remain in hiding since he first published his testimony on the scandal, and Grein has likewise felt the need to contract a security detail for his safety.

Because he has had his priestly faculties removed, McCarrick is prohibited from functioning or representing himself as a priest, whether publicly or in private. While he has been laicized, the ontological mark of priestly ordination and episcopal consecration on McCarrick’s soul remains, thus sacramentally he remains a priest and bishop, as those cannot be undone. With laicization, though, the disgraced former cardinal loses all the rights and privileges of a cleric, which would include the right to have financial support from the Church.

McCarrick’s money

Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that McCarrick declined to draw a salary or a pension from any of the three dioceses he led (Washington D.C., Newark and Metuchen, NJ), but according to sources close to the former cardinal, he has access to private income and is “not without resources.”

The CNA report raised among other things the question of the Archbishop’s Fund, a charitable fund that had been under McCarrick’s personal control from 2001 until June of last year. It was June 20 of last year that allegations of McCarrick’s predation first became public. 

Further with regard to the Archbishop’s Fund, the former high-profile cardinal had arranged for other organizations with which he was associated to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars for his “works of charity and other miscellaneous expenses.” McCarrick handed over control of the fund to the Archdiocese of Washington during June 2018, the report said.

He is not expected to face criminal prosecution due to the myriad allegations going beyond the statutes of limitations in the U.S. jurisdictions where they are said to have happened.

A gay subculture at the Vatican

The announcement of McCarrick’s laicization closely precedes Francis’s global summit on “the protection of minors in the Church,” which will be attended by heads of bishops’ conferences from across the world. The event is set for February 21-24.

The summit coincides closely with the release of an extensive expose describing a homosexual subculture at the Vatican.  In the Closet of the Vatican by homosexual French sociologist Dr. Frédéric Martel is scheduled to publish the same day as Francis’ summit focused on minors begins. Martell’s book also lends credence to Viganò’s charge that Francis knew about McCarrick and looked the other way.

Francis’ summit on the protection of minors has been criticized for failing to address abuse of seminarians and other vulnerable adults, or the Church’s reported homosexual power network – key components in the McCarrick scandal. 

The fact that Francis tapped Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich as a summit organizer has also protracted Catholics’ consternation over the pope’s handling of abuse – given Cupich’s reputation as a gay-friendly prelate, his dismissal of former Vatican Nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò’s testimony on cover-up of McCarrick’s as simply a “rabbit hole” distracting the Church, and his defense of the Vatican’s quash of the US Bishops’ vote for measures addressing abuse last November.

Further, in his testimony, Viganò had said McCarrick had a hand in advancing Cupich’s elevation to archbishop of Chicago. 

Some have speculated that the timing of the McCarrick laicization announcement was poised to signal that the Vatican was serious about addressing abuse, though many Catholics have noted that laicizing McCarrick was too little, too late. 

Among the questions still in need of answers are why so many Church leaders stayed silent amid widely-known allegations that McCarrick was sexually abusing seminarians and priests, what the full extent of the problem is, and why was McCarrick protected during his rise to power in the Church.

Over the weekend following the announcement of McCarrick having been removed from the clerical state, various Catholics on social media joined Viganò in calling for McCarrick’s repentance.

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Lisa Bourne is a Catholic wife, mother and journalist for LifeSiteNews. Her love for the Church and its rich Traditions informs each of those vocations. Lisa is grateful for any opportunity to save lives and souls, and seeks to do so whenever possible through writing, speaking or photography.


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