VATICAN CITY — Promising a thorough review of how the Vatican handled allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Vatican acknowledged that what happened may fall short of the procedures that are in place today.
“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,’” the Vatican wrote in statement released Oct. 6.
The Executive Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had said in August that it would seek such an investigation, and leaders of the bishops’ conference met with Pope Francis Sept. 13 to tell him how the Church in the United States has been “lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse.”
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, welcomed Pope Francis’ pledge to fight attempts to cover up cases of sexual abuse and to stop offering special treatment to bishops who have committed or covered up abuse.
“On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of Oct. 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault,” Cardinal DiNardo wrote in a statement released Oct. 7 in Rome.
The cardinal, president of the USCCB, is in Rome for the Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, conference vice president, also is in Rome for the synod, and the two U.S. leaders were expected to meet privately with Pope Francis Oct. 8 as questions continue over the handling of years of allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington.
Cardinal DiNardo, who earlier had requested a full investigation, stated, “The truth will ensure the terrible sins of the past are not repeated. The courage of abuse survivors who first brought the horrific truth of sexual abuse to light must continue to be matched by our courage as pastors to respond in justice.”
Renewing its commitment to uncovering the truth, the Vatican also stated that information gathered from its investigation as well as “a further thorough study” of its archives regarding the former cardinal will be released “in due course.”
“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 Vatican stated.
According to the statement, the pope ordered a preliminary investigation by the Archdiocese of New York after an allegation that Archbishop McCarrick abused a teenager 47 years ago; the allegation subsequently was found to be credible.
Pope Francis, the Vatican said, accepted Archbishop McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals after “grave indications emerged during the course of the investigation.”
In the weeks after the allegations were made public, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Archbishop McCarrick and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had.