Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Catholic Abuse News - Vatican Report Blames Pope John-Paul II For the Cardinal McCarrick Debacle.

Former Cardinal McCarrick.
Sexual predator and paedophile who pulled the wool over the eyes of three popes.
Vatican says Pope John Paul II ignored sex abuse allegations to promote ex-Cardinal McCarrick - CBS News

Pope John-Paul II knew about Cardinal (then Archbishop) McCarrick's sexual predation on children and young seminarians, but turned a blind eye to it when he promoted him to Cardinal.

That is the conclusion of a Vatican investigation into the omnishables that lead to Theodore McCarrick firstly being promoted to Archbishop, then to Cardinal and ending up as the most senior Catholic cleric in America, to then be summarily sacked and defrocked when Pope Francis finally learned the truth about him, to become the most senior Catholic cleric to be so treated. The report into the scandal (English Language version)(PDF) is published today.

The report bends over backwards to try to leave Pope Francis looking whiter than white but still leaves a number of questions unanswered. Particularly how much he was told about McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI following his sudden abdication, and if nothing, why not? According to Archbishop Viganò, Pope Francis was fully aware not only of the allegations against McCarrick, but also that his activities had been 'restricted' by Benedict XVI, but Pope Francis removed these restrictions anyway and was thus complicit in his further predatory behaviour.

During John-Paul II's reign, his 'enforcer' was none other than Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI. It was widely reported when the sexual abuse scandals began to emerge that Ratzinger, acting on John-Paul II's orders, has instructed senior figure in the church to supress allegations of sexual abuse in order to protect the Church's reputation. It was assumed that Benedict XVI's hasty elevation of the dead John-Paul II to the sainthood, was intended to quell these rumours, on the assumption that this was not what a future saint would do. Therefore he could not have ordered Ratzinger to pervert the course of justice, deny redress and compensation to the victims of abuse, and to facilitate the paedophile activities of the Catholic priesthood by being instrumental in covering it up and keeping it from the child-protection agencies.

Pope Francis denies this (in effect, calling Viganò a liar), which begs the question, why did Benedict XVI not tell him? Or did he? By claiming he knew nothing, Pope Francis is shifting the blame onto Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The executive summary reveals a litany of bumbling incompetence, an over-eager willingness by both John-Paul II and Benedict XVI to believe people who were close to them, and a credulous receptiveness to lies and false assurances that was naive in the extreme. Neither man appeared to be capable of believing a senior Catholic cleric could behave in such a way and then lie about it when challenged. McCarrick's 'oath as a bishop' was regarded as sufficient evidence of his veracity, when he lied about his sexual predation.

From the report:

  1. Executive Summary

    This section summarizes the key facts and decision-making regarding former Cardinal McCarrick, from his elevation to the episcopate in 1977 through the allegation in 2017 that he had sexually abused a minor during the early 1970s. To assist the reader, the summary references relevant sections of the Report for each topic.
    1. Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to McCarrick During the Papacy of Paul VI

      Following an extensive examination of McCarrick’s background, Pope Paul VI appointed Monsignor Theodore McCarrick Auxiliary Bishop in New York in 1977. Most informants consulted during the nomination process strongly recommended McCarrick for elevation to the episcopate. No one reported having witnessed or heard of McCarrick engaging in any improper behavior, either with adults or minors.4
    2. Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to McCarrick During the Papacy of John Paul II

      1. Appointments to Metuchen and Newark

        Pope John Paul II appointed McCarrick as Bishop of Metuchen (1981) and Archbishop of Newark (1986). The decisions to appoint McCarrick were based upon his background, skills, and achievements. During the appointment process, McCarrick was widely lauded as a pastoral, intelligent and zealous bishop, and no credible information emerged suggesting that he had engaged in any misconduct.5

        In Metuchen and Newark, McCarrick was recognized as a hard worker, active in the Episcopal Conference and on the national and international stage. He also became known and appreciated as an effective fundraiser, both at the diocesan level and for the Holy See.6
      2. Appointment to Washington

        Archbishop McCarrick was appointed to Washington in late 2000 and created cardinal in early 2001. The evidence shows that Pope John Paul II personally made the decision to appoint McCarrick and did so after receiving the counsel of several trusted advisors on both sides of the Atlantic.

        At the time of his appointment to Washington, the allegations against McCarrick generally fell into four categories:
        1. Priest 1, formerly of the Diocese of Metuchen, claimed that he had observed McCarrick’s sexual conduct with another priest in June 1987, and that McCarrick attempted to engage in sexual activity with Priest 1 later that summer;
        2. a series of anonymous letters, sent to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Apostolic Nuncio and various cardinals in the United States in 1992 and 1993, accused McCarrick of pedophilia with his “nephews”;8
        3. McCarrick was known to have shared a bed with young adult men in the Bishop’s residence in Metuchen and Newark;9 and
        4. McCarrick was known to have shared a bed with adult seminarians at a beach house on the New Jersey shore.10

        These allegations were generally summarized in a 28 October 1999 letter from Cardinal O’Connor, the Archbishop of New York, to the Apostolic Nuncio, and were shared with Pope John Paul II shortly thereafter.11

        Information regarding McCarrick’s conduct led to the conclusion that it would be imprudent to transfer him from Newark to another See on three occasions, namely Chicago (in 1997),12 New York (1999/2000)13 and, initially, Washington (July 2000).14 However, Pope John Paul II seems to have changed his mind in August/September 2000, ultimately leading to his decision to appoint McCarrick to Washington in November 2000.15

        The main reasons for the change in John Paul II’s thinking appear to have been as follows:
        • At the request of Pope John Paul II, in May to June 2000, Archbishop Montalvo, the Nuncio to the United States, conducted a written inquiry directed at four New Jersey bishops to determine whether the allegations against McCarrick were true. The bishops’ responses to the inquiry confirmed that McCarrick had shared a bed with young men but did not indicate with certainty that McCarrick had engaged in any sexual misconduct.16 What is now known, through investigation undertaken for the preparation of the Report, is that three of the four American bishops provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the Holy See regarding McCarrick’s sexual conduct with young adults.17

          This inaccurate information appears likely to have impacted the conclusions of John Paul II’s advisors and, consequently, of John Paul II himself.18
        • On 6 August 2000, McCarrick wrote a letter to Bishop Dziwisz, the Pope’s particular secretary, which was intended to rebut the allegations made by Cardinal O’Connor. In the letter, which was provided to Pope John Paul II, McCarrick affirmed: “In the seventy years of my life, I have never had sexual relations with any person, male or female, young or old, cleric or lay, nor have I ever abused another person or treated them with disrespect.” McCarrick’s denial was believed and the view was held that, if allegations against McCarrick were made public, McCarrick would be able to refute them easily.19
        • At the time of McCarrick’s appointment, and in part because of the limited nature of the Holy See’s own prior investigations, the Holy See had never received a complaint directly from a victim, whether adult or minor, about McCarrick’s misconduct.20 For this reason, McCarrick’s supporters could plausibly characterize the allegations against him as “gossip” or “rumors.”21
        • Priest 1, the only individual at the time to claim sexual misconduct by McCarrick, was treated as an unreliable informant, in part because he himself had previously abused two teenage boys.22 In addition, the Holy See did not receive any signed statement from Priest 1 regarding his allegations against McCarrick.23
        • Although McCarrick admitted that his sharing of a bed with seminarians at the beach house was “imprudent,” he insisted that he had never engaged in sexual conduct and that claims to the contrary, including the anonymous letters, constituted calumnious and/or politically motivated gossip.24 Though there is no direct evidence, it appears likely from the information obtained that John Paul II’s past experience in Poland regarding the use of spurious allegations against bishops to degrade the standing of the Church played a role in his willingness to believe McCarrick’s denials.25
        • Over two decades of episcopal ministry, McCarrick was recognized as an exceptionally hard-working and effective bishop able to handle delicate and difficult assignments both in the United States and in some of the most sensitive parts of the world – including in the former Eastern Bloc and particularly Yugoslavia.26
        • Pope John Paul II had known McCarrick for years, having first met him in the mid-1970s.27 McCarrick interacted with the Pope frequently, both in Rome and during trips overseas, including at the time of the Pope’s visit to Newark in 1995 and during annual trips to Rome for the Papal Foundation.28 McCarrick’s direct relationship with John Paul II also likely had an impact on the Pope’s decision-making.
    3. Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to McCarrick During the Papacy of Benedict XVI

      At the beginning of the papacy of Benedict XVI, the information received by the Holy See related to McCarrick’s misconduct was generally similar to the information that had been available to John Paul II at the time of the appointment to Washington.29 Shortly after his election in April 2005, upon the recommendation of the Nuncio and the Congregation for Bishops, Pope Benedict XVI extended McCarrick’s tenure in Washington, which was viewed as successful, by two years.30

      Based upon new details related to Priest 1’s allegations, the Holy See reversed course in late 2005 and urgently sought a successor for the Archbishopric of Washington, requesting that McCarrick “spontaneously” withdraw as Archbishop after Easter 2006.31

      Over the next two years, Holy See officials wrestled with how to address issues regarding Cardinal McCarrick. While serving in the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Viganò wrote two memoranda, one in 2006 and the other in 2008, for the purpose of bringing questions related to McCarrick to the attention of Superiors.32 The memoranda referred to the allegations and rumors about McCarrick’s misconduct during the 1980s and raised concerns that a scandal could result given that the information had already circulated widely. Noting that the allegations remained unproven (“Si vera et probata sunt exposita”) and recognizing that only the Pope could judge a cardinal under the canon law, Viganò suggested that a canonical process could be opened to determine the truth and, if warranted, to impose an “exemplary measure.”

      Viganò’s Superiors, Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone and Substitute Archbishop Sandri, shared Viganò’s concerns and Cardinal Bertone presented the matter directly to Pope Benedict XVI. Ultimately, the path of a canonical process to resolve factual issues and possibly prescribe canonical penalties was not taken.33 Instead, the decision was made to appeal to McCarrick’s conscience and ecclesial spirit by indicating to him that he should maintain a lower profile and minimize travel for the good of the Church. In 2006, Cardinal Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, instructed Nuncio Sambi to convey these indications orally to McCarrick.34

      In 2008, Prefect Re transmitted the indications to McCarrick in writing.35

      While Cardinal Re’s approach was approved by Pope Benedict XVI, the indications did not carry the Pope’s explicit imprimatur, were not based on a factual finding that McCarrick had actually committed misconduct, and did not include a prohibition on public ministry.36

      A number of factors appear to have played a role in Pope Benedict XVI’s declination to initiate a formal canonical proceeding: there were no credible allegations of child abuse; McCarrick swore on his “oath as a bishop” that the allegations were false;37 the allegations of misconduct with adults related to events in the 1980s; and there was no indication of any recent misconduct.38

      In the absence of canonical sanctions or explicit instructions from the Holy Father, McCarrick continued his activities in the United States and overseas. McCarrick remained in active public ministry, continued his work with Catholic Relief Services (including foreign travel), traveled to Rome for various meetings or events, remained a member of Holy See dicasteries (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and Pontifical Councils), continued his work in the Middle East with the United States Department of State, and served on USCCB committees. McCarrick also undertook other engagements with the approval of officials of the Roman Curia or the Apostolic Nuncio.39 After mid-2009, Nuncio Sambi became the main point of contact for McCarrick and, with Sambi effectively taking charge of the situation, neither Pope Benedict XVI nor the Congregation for Bishops appears to have been kept apprised of McCarrick’s activities in the United States or overseas.40 Once Archbishop Viganò was appointed Nuncio to the United States in late 2011, McCarrick kept Viganò regularly informed of his travels and activities.41

      Towards the end of the papacy of Benedict XVI, Priest 3, another priest of Metuchen, informed Nuncio Viganò of Priest 3’s lawsuit alleging that overt sexual conduct between him and McCarrick had occurred in 1991.42 Viganò wrote to Cardinal Ouellet, the new Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, about this in 2012 and Ouellet instructed Viganò to take certain steps, including an inquiry with specific diocesan officials and Priest 3, to determine if the allegations were credible. Viganò did not take these steps and therefore never placed himself in the position to ascertain the credibility of Priest 3. McCarrick continued to remain active, traveling nationally and internationally.43
    4. Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to McCarrick During the Papacy of Francis

      Given McCarrick’s retirement and advanced age, Holy See officials during 2013 to early 2017 rarely addressed the indications originally given to McCarrick back in 2006 and 2008, which had been modified in their application during the papacy of Benedict XVI.44

      Neither Pope Francis, nor Cardinal Parolin, nor Cardinal Ouellet lifted or modified the prior “indications” related to McCarrick’s activities or residence. McCarrick generally continued his religious, humanitarian and charitable work during this period, sometimes with renewed focus and energy, but also with increased difficulty due to his advanced age. In the 2013 to 2017 period, McCarrick did not act as a diplomatic agent for the Holy See, or with any official mandate from the Secretariat of State.45

      On a few occasions, McCarrick’s continued activities, and the existence of prior indications, were raised with Pope Francis by Substitute Becciu and Secretary of State Parolin. Nuncio Viganò first claimed in 2018 that he mentioned McCarrick in meetings with the Holy Father in June and October 2013, but no records support Viganò’s account and evidence as to what he said is sharply disputed. Pope Francis recalled a brief conversation about McCarrick with Substitute Becciu and did not exclude the possibility of a similarly short exchange with Cardinal Parolin. Before 2018, the Holy Father never discussed McCarrick with Cardinal Ouellet, who was the Prefect of the dicastery with primary competence over the matter, or with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.46

      Until 2017, no one – including Cardinal Parolin, Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop Becciu or Archbishop Viganò – provided Pope Francis with any documentation regarding allegations against McCarrick, including the anonymous letters dating back to the early 1990s or documents related to Priest 1 or Priest 3. Pope Francis had heard only that there had been allegations and rumors related to immoral conduct with adults occurring prior to McCarrick’s appointment to Washington. Believing that the allegations had already been reviewed and rejected by Pope John Paul II, and well aware that McCarrick was active during the papacy of Benedict XVI, Pope Francis did not see the need to alter the approach that had been adopted in prior years.47

      In June 2017, the Archdiocese of New York learned of the first known allegation of sexual abuse by McCarrick of a victim under 18 years of age, which occurred in the early 1970s.48 Shortly after the accusation was deemed credible, Pope Francis requested McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals. Following an administrative penal process by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, McCarrick was found culpable of acts in contravention of the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue involving both minors and adults, and on that basis was dismissed from the clerical state.49
For superscript references, see original report.PDF
The penultimate paragraph above is interesting in that it appears to try to absolve Pope "I knew nothing" Francis of any culpability and implies that Pope Benedict XVI did nothing to restrict McCarrick's duties and activities, contrary to Viganò's allegation. It also says he just assumed that, because John-Paul II did nothing and promoted McCarrick, he must have investigated the allegations and found them to be without foundation, despite there being no written record of any such investigation.

And so a sexual predatory was allowed to get away with it for years because no-one did anything about it, assuming someone else would have done something if there had been any truth in the allegations. Despite the attempted whitewash, Pope Francis does not come out of this scandal very well at all.

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