February 18, 2019 by eneubauer
This past Saturday there was a collective sigh of relief as Theodore McCarrick was officially laicized, meaning removed from the clerical state. This was announced on February 16, 2019. Below is the official statement from the Vatican, which is important for every Catholic to read and review.
On 11 January 2019, the Congresso of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the conclusion of a penal process, issued a decree finding Theodore Edgar McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., guilty of the following delicts while a cleric: solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power. The Congresso imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. On 13 February 2019, the Ordinary Session (FeriaIV) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith considered the recourse he presented against this decision. Having examined the arguments in the recourse, the Ordinary Session confirmed the decree of the Congresso. This decision was notified to Theodore McCarrick on 15 February 2019. The Holy Father has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (i.e., admitting of no further recourse).
I placed in bold those statements with special importance and will draw attention to each in my commentary.
First, it is important to know that this decision was made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on January 11. At 88, removed from public ministry and living in “isolation” at Pope Francis’ request Theodore McCarrick decided to appeal his verdict. He did not take full responsibility, make a public apology nor did he ask for forgiveness for the lives he destroyed. McCarrick fought to the bitter end. That decision alone speaks volumes.
Second, are the details of his abuse, which are all quite disturbing.
- Solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession
- Sins against the 6th Commandment with adults & minors
- Abuse of power
What did the McCarrick Scandal teach us:
What is important to point out here is that Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick not only abused minors but adults as well. The problem is not limited to the abuse of minors but also includes a sexually active priest (or priesthood) and the fact that Bishops are engaging in sexual activity with those under their authority and care. A clear abuse of power, workplace sexual harassment and subsequent cover-up. If we acted this way we would be out of work!
USCCB Fall Meeting Delay Tactic:
What we learned about McCarrick made USCCB fall meeting all the more important. Since this past summer, the lay faithful were calling on their leaders to do two basic things. First, recognize the serious problem of sexually active priests/Bishops. Second, the development of clear, zero tolerance policies governing Bishops who engage in and cover up such activities with some role for the laity in oversight.
Then came the request from the Vatican and leaders like Cardinal Cupich of Chicago asking the U.S. Bishops conference to wait on any and all votes regarding the McCarrick file release and Bishop accountability measures in light of the Rome summit on abuse. Once the summit dates were announced the official organizing committee led by U.S. Cardinal Cupich spoke in unity that there was NOT going to be any discussion of the abuse of seminarians/priests by Bishops nor would there be any new policies governing the accountability of Bishops.
Hence, the request for the U.S. Bishops to wait for this summit was nothing but a smokescreen. The decision makers within the Catholic hierarchy do not want to deal with the issues uncovered by the McCarrick scandal. It is a clear tactic by the Church hierarchy, the death of an issue by delay.
How Church leaders see abuse:
During the “trial” of McCarrick, an argument was made by McCarrick’s lawyers and others (including Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, video link) that certain infractions with teen’s/men above ages 16-18 (depending on the age of consent when the actions occurred) are not subject to the same penalties as the abuse of minors. Leaders like Cupich don’t see this as abuse/abuse of power! Therefore, the Catholic Church delays doing anything to address issues regarding abuse of power and the sexual activity of priests. In light of this attitude, Catholic Bishops do not want to pass zero tolerance guidelines for Bishops nor have any lay oversight into the diocese they oversee. They want you to simply trust, go away and fund their mess. I for one will not participate in these activities any longer with my wallet.
Sadly, unless something changes and the summit’s focus shifts we will all be disappointed that true progress has not been made and the culture of sexual license, hiding/cover-up, and poor seminary formation under the authority of the Bishop will continue. We will leave Rome with NO additional tools to hold Bishops accountable for the moral failure of immense magnitude.
One Last Word on McCarrick:
Here are some unanswered questions…
- Who knew of McCarrick’s abuse and did nothing?
- How long did the Vatican know of McCarrick’s abuse?
- Who benefited from McCarrick’s rise to and grip on power?
- How many non-profit organizations/foundations did McCarrick directly oversee? Have these entities been audited and the results made public?
- McCarrick has not been taking salary or benefits from the last two or three dioceses he has led. What is the source of his personal income that is not under Church control or oversight?
The abuse of minors, abuse of power leading to the sexual activity of Bishops with seminarians/young priests, sexual harassment in the workplace, and the poor formation of our seminarians must end.
Every single Catholic I know wants the Church to be healed and whole. They want our leaders to be strong, holy, devout men and women who will live according to the foundational teachings of the Catholic Church. We are waiting but we will not give license.