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Fr. Gerald E. Murray

Opinion,

Vatican must share the whole truth about McCarrick’s sex abuse crimes

Fr. Gerald E. Murray

November 26, 2019 (The Catholic Thing) — The news that the Holy See will publish the results of the internal investigation of files related to former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is welcome indeed. Cardinal Seán O'Malley informed the American bishops at their annual fall meeting that "[t]he intention is to publish the Holy See's response soon, if not before Christmas, soon in the New Year."

Recall that in October 2018, the Vatican announced that it would "in due course, make known the conclusions of the matter regarding Archbishop McCarrick. Moreover, with reference to other accusations brought against Archbishop McCarrick, the Holy Father has decided that information gathered during the preliminary investigation be combined with a further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick, in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively."

The McCarrick case hangs over the Church like a poisonous cloud. When O'Malley was in Rome in October for the Ad Limina visit of the New England bishops, he told the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, that the Church in America wants to know how McCarrick "could become an archbishop and cardinal, who knew what and when."

As to the more than yearlong process, O'Malley commented: "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."

Propers to him for prompting the Holy See to act. He told the National Catholic Register that "he was shown a 'hefty document' which is being translated into Italian for a presentation to Pope Francis, with intended publication by early 2020."

We also await the publication of the reports of the dioceses where McCarrick served — New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington — which were sent to the Holy See. McCarrick's victims and the public-at-large deserve to see them.

In August 2018, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, then president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated that the USCCB would "pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick's conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the Conference will advocate with those who do have the authority. One way or the other, we are determined to find the truth in this matter."

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is precisely what needs to be made known. Following the first accusations, a flood of other accusations and evidence against McCarrick has become public. Fr. Boniface Ramsey, a former professor at the Newark Archdiocese seminary, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former nuncio in Washington, and Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, a former personal secretary to McCarrick, have all come forward with important information about McCarrick's moral turpitude and the extent to which that was known in Rome and among certain U.S. bishops.

James C. Grein, who was born in 1958 and was baptized by McCarrick, came forward in July 2018 to reveal to the New York Times a horrid, personal history of sexual abuse by McCarrick, beginning when Grein was 11 years old.

Grein filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of New York in August of this year detailing multiple instances of abuse. The lawsuit also claims that "from about 1970 the then Archbishop of New York was aware of the then Monsignor McCarrick's special relationship with the then minor Plaintiff."

Grein's lawsuit further claims that in 1988, he told John Paul II about the abuse in Rome: "At that time, no action by the Catholic Church was taken against Archbishop McCarrick; nor was any effort made at that time by the Defendants or the Catholic Church to mitigate or otherwise address Plaintiff's injuries."

McCarrick presently lives as a guest at a Franciscan friary in Victoria, Kansas. He continues to assert his innocence. He told a reporter in September: "I'm not as bad as they paint me. I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of." In response to Grein's charge that he molested him during Confession: "I would never have done anything like that."

He does not "believe"; he "never would have done". If he did not do what he is charged with, he should have the courage to call all his accusers liars and sue them for defamation. Pretending that nothing really happened is one more instance of McCarrick's attempts to manipulate people and create false impressions. It's time to explode these monstrous pretensions and to make known the full story of who stood by and let this man pursue his evil course.

This spectacle of the former cardinal, defrocked by the Holy See for sexually molesting minors, calmly telling a reporter that he is not a bad guy, repeating his devious answers, demonstrates that the McCarrick matter is still a festering wound upon the Church. We await the truth about who knew what and when they knew it, and what they did or did not do about it.

There will likely be painful and shocking revelations. The Holy See acknowledged this in October 2018:

The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were made that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead' (Philadelphia, 27 September 2015). Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for Bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable.

Published with permission from The Catholic Thing.

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