Pope Francis, in his first public comment after the release of a long-awaited report on the Vatican’s mishandling of the case of ex-US cardinal Theodore McCarrick, again vowed to put an end to sexual abuse in the Church.
“Yesterday, the report about the painful case of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick was published. I renew my closeness to the victims of every abuse and the commitment of the Church to uproot this evil,” Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience, Nov. 11.
The pope then closed his eyes and prayed silently.
The 450-page in-house report on the Holy See’s institutional knowledge and decision-making related to the former cardinal gained global media coverage. It said the late Pope St. John Paul II promoted McCarrick in 2000 despite rumors of his sexual misconduct, one of a series of failings by popes and officials who let him rise through the ranks regardless of repeated allegations against him.
The report also said that in 2008 former Pope Benedict overruled proposals from top aides that McCarrick undergo a church investigation “to determine the truth and, if warranted, impose an ‘exemplary measure'”. He was instead given a verbal warning and told to keep a low profile.
The report also includes some details of McCarrick’s extensive international travels, including on behalf of the Vatican and the US government to China to meet the country’s ruling communists.
Within the report are details of his abuse and grooming of seminarians and minors while providing accounts featuring broader sexual misconduct by linked clergy.
The report said when the New York Archdiocese learned that McCarrick abused a minor during the early 1970s the pope requested McCarrick’s resignation as a cardinal.
Later McCarrick was fully “dismissed from the clerical state.”
The report was prepared by the Secretariat of State of the Holy See in the Vatican. The pope had ordered it to be made public for “the good of the universal Church,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state.
However, it has been panned by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador, who is featured in its findings.
“The Vatican fiction continues,” Archbishop Vigano said in an open letter.
Archbishop Vigano has, in the past, accused Pope Francis of allowing McCarrick to continue his travels and lifting “sanctions” he said were imposed by Pope Benedict. He also called on the pope to resign. The Vatican has said there were no formal sanctions and, in its report, has called into question the archbishop’s allegations.
Pope Francis’ words on Nov. 11 also followed an independent inquiry in London, on the day before, that said the Catholic Church in Britain betrayed its moral purpose over decades by protecting those who sexually abused children rather than caring for their victims.
Last week in Poland, the Vatican disciplined an elderly cardinal who was accused of sexually abusing a minor.
You can read the full Vatican report here.
Watch the pope comment on the report below: