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Notre Dame alumni call on university to rescind honorary degree to accused abuser McCarrick

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

October 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Notre Dame alumni are calling on the prominent Catholic university to rescind an honorary degree awarded in 2008 to accused abuser now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. They are also calling for the university to support an investigation into how McCarrick was able to rise to prominence in the Catholic Church while simultaneously preying upon young men.

“We, the undersigned alumni, members of the Notre Dame community, friends of Notre Dame, and concerned Catholics, urge you to rescind the honorary degree the University awarded in 2008 to then Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and to announce the University’s support for a wide-ranging and unconstrained investigation into what McCarrick did, who knew, and what they did or didn’t do about it,” states a petition addressed to Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins.

“Former Cardinal McCarrick is at the epicenter of the most serious crisis faced by the Catholic Church in the United States in a very long time. He has become the face of clerical sexual abuse,” the petition, created by the alumni group Sycamore Trust, adds. 

The alumni group’s petition comes in the wake of the credible allegations that McCarrick abused a minor decades ago. These were followed by subsequent charges that McCarrick was a serial predator of seminarians and young priests – and further that this was a well-known “secret’ in the Church and some media.

Sycamore Trust notes how Notre Dame pulled Bill Cosby’s honorary degree the day a jury found him guilty of abusing a woman, and says the school’s reputation as a Catholic institution is at risk since six other prominent Catholic colleges and universities have rescinded the degrees they’d given McCarrick.

At the same time, Holy Cross Father Bill Miscamble, longtime Notre Dame history professor and the University’s prior History Department chair, has penned a column for the Irish Rover in which he calls Notre Dame’s response to the Church’s sexual abuse scandal “tepid.”

He writes: 

Fr. John Jenkins has even declined to rescind the honorary degree granted to McCarrick in 2008 claiming that the university must “allow the adjudicatory process to reach a conclusion before taking action.” He has maintained this stance despite the fact that Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s Review Board determined that McCarrick had molested an altar boy, and that two New Jersey dioceses paid secret settlements to buy the silence of two adult male victims of McCarrick’s sexual molestation. McCarrick’s perfidy is hardly in dispute as confirmed by Pope Francis’s dismissal of him from the College of Cardinals. Other universities like Fordham, CUA and the University of Portland already have dissociated themselves from him.

Miscamble notes that Notre Dame’s “difficulty in dissociating itself from McCarrick is complicated by the extent to which the university’s leadership embraced members of the former cardinal’s network and their agenda.”

Withdrawing McCarrick’s honorary degree is just the first step, Miscamble writes, then detailing specifics of additional action the University should take to be part of seeking the truth in the McCarrick scandal, and “to overcome the taint that the university’s close association with the former cardinal has left.”

“If it turns out that Cardinals Wuerl and Farrell were aware of McCarrick’s abhorrent behavior and did nothing to stop it, then their degrees too should be rescinded,” he wrote. 

“Notre Dame might also put some distance between itself and those members of the hierarchy closely associated with McCarrick until matters regarding him and them have been fully investigated. And bishops such as Roger Mahony should be discouraged from further visits to the campus or associations with Notre Dame,” he continued. 

“Beyond these initial moves, Notre Dame should commit itself to the pursuit of the truth without fear or favor,” added.

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