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Theodore McCarrick at a US Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting before details of his predation were made publicClaire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Sean O’Malley told American bishops that a long-expected report on the Vatican’s investigation into alleged serial sex abuser former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been delayed yet again. 

At the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal O’Malley of Boston updated his colleagues about the probe, saying on Monday, “The intention is to publish the Holy See’s response soon, if not before Christmas, soon in the new year.” The response has been expected since at least February, if not before.

In an apparent attempt to explain the Vatican’s delay, O’Malley said that during the probe, the Vatican found a “much larger corpus” of information from various Vatican dicasteries and American dioceses than had been anticipated. On the part of the Vatican, he said, however: “There is a desire, a commitment, to be thorough and transparent so as to answer peoples’ questions and not simply create more questions.”

In October 2018, the Vatican announced it would review files on Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C. Pope Francis laicized McCarrick following the Archdiocese of New York’s finding that sexual abuse allegations against the then-retired cardinal were “credible and substantiated” and a number of subsequent claims he had abused seminarians.

Earlier this year, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that the Vatican was still investigating McCarrick, adding that a statement would follow once the probe was finished.

In updating the bishops, Cardinal O’Malley said that he and fellow bishops from New England met recently with Pope Francis and “were not afraid to bring up the question of the report on Theodore McCarrick, and we insisted on the importance of publishing a response to the many serious questions of this case.” 

The cardinal said on Monday that he and fellow bishops told Cardinal Parolin and the Vatican Curia that all Catholics in the U.S. are expecting “the Holy See’s explanation of this situation; how he [McCarrick] could become an archbishop and cardinal; who knew what and when.”

“The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people, and indeed a harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence,” O’Malley admitted. He said that during his recent visit to Rome that Cardinal Parolin told him that the Vatican had had the intention of issuing a response before the USCCB meeting. 

Expressing frustration over O’Malley’s announcement, journalist Phil Lawler – the author of Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis is Misleading his Flockwrote at Catholic Culture: “If it seems to you that the Vatican is silent, there’s a reason for that impression. Sixteen months after the scandal became public—sixteen months after outraged American Catholics began demanding honest answers to obvious questions—the Vatican has not responded.” 

Lawler added, with a gloss on O’Malley’s statement, “But don’t worry, and above all don’t become ‘even cynical.’ We’ll have the answers—well, we’ll have some answers—‘soon.’”

In June of this year, the National Advisory Council, which consists of lay Catholics who advise the American bishops, unanimously asked them to urge the Holy See to “make public the results of diocesan and archdiocesan investigations of Theodore McCarrick.” 

Similarly, the National Review Board – which also consists of lay Catholics who advise the bishops on issues related to protecting young people – called on the bishops to request that the Vatican release all documents related to McCarrick.

It was in June 2018 that accounts of McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse were initially made public when the Archdiocese of New York announced that a sexual abuse allegations against then-retired cardinal were “credible and substantiated.” 

As additional reports of McCarrick’s alleged harassment and sexual abuse were released, Pope Francis accepted the disgraced prelate’s resignation from the College of Cardinals. In July 2018, the Pope called McCarrick to a life of prayer and penance. McCarrick has yet to admit to or apologize for his alleged crimes. He has not faced criminal sanctions.

Over the next month, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who had served as nuncio to the U.S., claimed not only that the Pope knew about earlier sanctions on McCarrick but also chose to repeal them. When the Pope said earlier this year that he knew “nothing” about McCarrick’s immoral activities, Vigano accused the pontiff of lying.

During their 2018 fall meeting, the bishops were about to vote on measures to address clerical sexual abuse and call for the Vatican to release all documents relating to the McCarrick case. However, they then received a Vatican request that they not take such action until February 2019 and the planned Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church at the Vatican.

In Feburary 2019, Pope Francis laicized McCarrick just before the much-heralded summit of bishops from around the world on the sexual abuse crisis. Archbishop Viganò wrote an open letter to McCarrick, encouraging him to repent of his sins. He wrote to McCarrick to say that begging forgiveness publicly would be of great benefit to the Church and his soul: “Time is running out, but you can confess and repent of your sins, crimes and sacrileges, and do so publicly, since they have themselves become public. Your eternal salvation is at stake.” 

McCarrick now lives in a friary in Kansas next to elementary and high schools.