BALTIMORE — The results of the Vatican’s investigation of Theodore McCarrick should be published by early 2020, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston told U.S. bishops on Monday.
“The intention is to publish the Holy See’s response soon, if not before Christmas, soon in the new year,” Cardinal O’Malley said on Monday afternoon
Cardinal O’Malley presented a brief update on the status of the Vatican’s McCarrick investigation during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, held Nov. 11-13.
Earlier on Monday morning, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan, had requested that an update on the Vatican’s McCarrick investigation be added to the agenda of the bishops’ meeting. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, seconded the motion, and the bishops approved it by a voice vote.
In March 2019, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said the Vatican was still engaged in its investigation into McCarrick and that the Holy See would issue a declaration once it was finished.
On Monday, Cardinal O’Malley provided the update on the Vatican’s investigation shortly after he and other bishops from New England arrived back in the U.S. from a visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
“We 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,” Cardinal O’Malley said.
Cardinal O’Malley said the New England delegation made it clear to Cardinal Parolin that bishops, priests, religious and the lay faithful in the U.S. were all anxiously awaiting the results of the investigation, of how 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,” Cardinal O’Malley added Monday.
Cardinal Parolin “assured” the U.S. delegation of the Vatican’s original intent to publish its response to the investigation before the U.S. bishops’ November meeting in Baltimore, but the scope of the investigation and quantity of the information discovered in the process necessitated a later publishing date.
“There is a desire, a commitment, to be thorough and transparent, so as to answer peoples’ questions and not simply to create more questions,” Cardinal O’Malley said of the Vatican.
The cardinal said he was shown a “hefty document” by the Vatican, which is being translated into Italian for a presentation to Pope Francis, with an intended publication by early 2020.
Reports of McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse were initially made public in June 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York had announced that a sexual-abuse allegation against then-retired Cardinal McCarrick was “credible and substantiated.”
Subsequent reports of sexual abuse or harassment of children and seminarians by McCarrick surfaced, and Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals and assigned him to a life of prayer and penance in July 2018.
In August 2018, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former apostolic nuncio to the U.S., claimed that Pope Francis knew about existing sanctions on McCarrick but chose to repeal them.
At their November 2018 meeting, just months after settlements of the Archdioceses of New York and Newark of abuse cases involving McCarrick were made public, the bishops were set to vote on a number of measures to deal with the clergy sex-abuse crisis, including a call for the Vatican to release all documents about McCarrick in accord with canon and civil law.
However, after the Vatican requested shortly before the meeting that the bishops not take action on the abuse crisis until an international summit of bishops in Rome in early 2019, the bishops did not end up voting on the McCarrick measure because of fears they could be viewed at odds with Rome.
Pope Francis laicized McCarrick in February 2019, shortly before convening a summit of bishops from around the world on clergy sexual abuse. The Vatican’s accelerated investigation into McCarrick’s case was reportedly an “administrative penal process,” not a full juridical process but one used when the evidence in the case is overwhelming.
In June, the U.S. bishops’ National Advisory Council unanimously requested the bishops to urge the Holy See to “make public the results of diocesan and archdiocesan investigations of Theodore McCarrick.”