After three months of painful revelations of sexual misconduct of priests and bishops, along with allegations that some bishops covered up these criminal behaviors, this weekend we are seeing some positive developments.
Before I spell out these new developments, it bears saying once again, that as Church, and as an Archbishop, we apologize again to victims of sexual abuse. My prayer and plea during these past few months is that by our actions we give clear evidence that we are listening compassionately to victims while at the same time taking actions to report their claims to appropriate law enforcement and exercise due diligence to independently investigate their claims.
Because I have heard from many members of the Church, I am aware of the serious questions on your minds as well as the pain, confusion and anger this present moment has caused you. Therefore, I’m happy to report the following developments.
On Saturday (October 6, 2018) the Holy See made the following announcement regarding their investigation into the advancement of now Archbishop McCarrick to the levels of bishop and cardinal. The statement is below. Note that the USCCB Administrative Committee also supports a full, independent investigation into the McCarrick file here in the United States. Read Statement here. The people of God asked for (if not demanded) such an investigation, and it is now underway.
Holy See Press Office Communiqué, 06.10.2018
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).
In an equally encouraging development, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouelette, issued a letter today rebuking the claims and accusations of Archbishop Vigano against Pope Francis. I encourage you to read this letter also. An English translation of the letter can be found here.
While these are initial steps, they are important and encouraging. There is no doubt more that will need to be done, but these developments give me hope that as Church, we are being clear that there is no room in this Church for abuse and cover up.
I invite all to continue to pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and to heed his call to each member of the Church during this month of October to pray for the protection of the Church from all evil, by praying a daily rosary, recite the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, and the Memorare.
Our Good Lord has not, does not and will not abandon us.