Pope Francis has decided to combine the results of an investigation begun last year into Archbishop Theodore McCarrick with a new, “thorough study” of all the documentation contained in the Vatican archives in order to “ascertain all the relevant facts” surrounding the ex-cardinal. 

In an Oct. 6 communique (see below), the Vatican said the Pope had ordered the archdiocese of New York to begin a preliminary investigation into Archbishop McCarrick in September 2017, after the archdiocese had been notified that a man had accused the former cardinal of having abused him in the 1970s.

The statement went on to say that the Holy See would “make known the conclusions of the matter regarding Archbishop McCarrick” in “due course,” but in the meantime, the Pope had decided to combine the information gathered by the preliminary investigation with a “further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the archives of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See” in order to “ascertain all the relevant facts” about McCarrick, “to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively.”

The news of the new investigation comes several weeks after former nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, issued a testimony saying he had personally informed Pope Francis in 2013 about McCarrick’s sexual abuse of seminarians. Despite this, Archbishop Viganò claims Francis did not enforce sanctions that had already been placed on McCarrick by Benedict XVI but rather “rehabilitated” him, allowing the archbishop emeritus of Washington DC to travel and exert influence, most notably over some episcopal appointments in the U.S.  The Vatican has not directly responded to Archbishop Viganò's claims.

In the Oct. 6 statement, the Vatican said the Holy See “is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues.” 

It then quoted words given by Pope Francis during his visit to Philadelphia in September 2015, when he said: “We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.” 

“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,” the statement continued.

The Vatican said the Holy Father “renews his pressing invitation to unite forces to fight against the grave scourge of abuse within and beyond the Church, and to prevent such crimes from being committed in the future to the harm of the most innocent and most vulnerable in society.” 

It also reminded the faithful of the meeting of bishops to discuss clergy sexual abuse next February, and ended with a quote from Pope Francis from his recent Letter to the People of God on this issue. 

“The only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within.” 

Sources have confirmed to the Register that the Pope is to meet privately on Monday with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Archbishop Jose Gomez, president and vice-president of the U.S. bishops’ conference. 

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Oct. 6 Vatican Communique on Archbishop McCarrick:

"After the publication of the accusations regarding the conduct of Archbishop Theodore Edgar McCarrick, the Holy Father Pope Francis, aware of and concerned by the confusion that these accusations are causing in the conscience of the faithful, has established that the following be communicated:

In September 2017, the Archdiocese of New York notified the Holy See that a man had accused former Cardinal McCarrick of having abused him in the 1970s. The Holy Father ordered a thorough preliminary investigation into this, which was carried out by the Archdiocese of New York, at the conclusion of which the relative documentation was forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the meantime, because grave indications emerged during the course of the investigation, the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Archbishop McCarrick from the College of Cardinals, prohibiting him by order from exercising public ministry, and obliging him to lead a life of prayer and penance.

The Holy See will, 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 Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken 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.

The Holy Father Pope Francis renews his pressing invitation to unite forces to fight against the grave scourge of abuse within and beyond the Church, and to prevent such crimes from being committed in the future to the harm of the most innocent and most vulnerable in society. As previously made known, the Holy Father has convened a meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences from around the world for next February, while the words of his recent Letter to the People of God still resonate: “The only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within” (20 August 2018)."