ROME – Two years ago the Vatican pledged to conduct an in-depth investigation into ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s rise to power after he was accused of sexual abuse, and to publish the results of that query “in due course.”
Since then, the Vatican has been under increased pressure to release the findings of that report, and has endured ongoing criticism for the delay.
However, in a statement Friday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni announced that the wait is finally over, and that the report will be published Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 2p.m. local time in Rome – four days from now.
According to the Nov. 6 statement, the apparent title of the report is, “Report on the Holy See’s institutional knowledge and decision-making process related to former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (from 1930 to 2017).”
Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin was tasked with conducting the investigation, which many hope will hold the answers to how McCarrick – despite years of open rumors about sexual misconduct with seminarians – was able to climb the ecclesial ladder both in the United States, and in Rome.
In June 2018, the Archdiocese of New York announced that after it had received allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, it conducted an investigation and found the accusations to be both “credible and substantiated.”
A month later, further reports emerged detailing the serial sexual harassment of seminarians during McCarrick’s years in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey.
Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York in 1958, McCarrick in 1977 was appointed as an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese. He was later named bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, and after that went on to hold several other significant episcopal appointments, including archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and, in 2000, archbishop of Washington.
McCarrick was given a red hat by Pope John Paul II in 2001. He retired in 2006, having reached the age of retirement.
Allegations against McCarrick came as the Catholic Church was still reeling from massive sexual abuse scandals in Chile. They were also the tip of the iceberg in what has since come to be known as the “summer of shame” for the United States, as further scandals came out following a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report into clerical sexual abuse.
In August 2018, global Catholicism, and particularly American Catholics, were shocked when Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former Vatican envoy to the U.S., released a lengthy letter insisting that Pope Francis knew of rumors about McCarrick’s misconduct but did nothing, and called for his resignation.
Amid the fallout of the Pennsylvania report, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., one of the most powerful members of the American Catholic Church, resigned from his post in October due to dispute over his handling of abuse cases during his time as bishop of Pittsburgh in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Wuerl had also argued that he knew nothing about the accusations against McCarrick, however, correspondence obtained by Crux in May 2019 from an ex-aide to McCarrick confirmed that Wuerl was not only aware of the allegations, but was also in the loop on the fact that informal secret restrictions had been placed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 related to rumors of his misbehavior with seminarians.
Pope Francis removed McCarrick from public ministry after the Archdiocese released its findings in June 2018. A month later, Pope Francis took away his red hat, removing McCarrick from the College of Cardinals. In 2019, he was defrocked.
Scandals related to Chile and the McCarrick case were largely the cause of a February 2019 global Vatican summit on child protection, which gathered together the heads of bishops’ conferences around the world and which yielded new legislation both inside the Vatican and throughout the universal Church on mandatory reporting.
It was rumored that the McCarrick report would be published in February, after a string of ad limina visits from U.S. bishops, however, the release was delayed.
It is unknown whether the contents of the report will contain the “smoking gun” Americans are waiting for that will tell them who to point the finger to, but the fact that it is finally being released could provide at least some answers to the very difficult questions that have been asked for the past two years.
Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen