Boston’s Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley says the Vatican may publish by late this year what it knows about the rise to power of disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
McCarrick, formerly bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was defrocked this year after allegations he sexually abused two minors and sexually harassed seminarians. Last month, new accusations were revealed, The Washington Post reported.
Questions have been raised about how McCarrick moved to the top of the Catholic church in spite of rumors and complaints of misconduct. Pope Francis in October 2018 promised a “thorough” study of Vatican archives — and that he would disclose the results.
O’Malley, in a brief presentation Monday to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, said the Vatican may publish what it knows by Christmas, or perhaps the New Year, according to a Catholic News Service article posted by The Pilot, the Boston archdiocese’s official newspaper.
O’Malley recounted a meeting earlier this month with the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
“We made it clear to Cardinal Parolin at the leadership of the curia that the priests and the people of our country are anxious to receive the Holy See’s explanation of this tragic situation, how he could become an archbishop and cardinal, who knew what and when,” Cardinal O’Malley said.
“The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people and indeed a very harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence,” he said.
O’Malley reported that Parolin said the Vatican wanted to publish the report before the bishops’ November meeting, “but the investigation has involved various dioceses in the United States as well as many offices” at the Vatican and a much larger than anticipated “corpus,” or body, of information.
“There is a desire and a commitment to be thorough and transparent, so as to answer people’s questions and not simply create more questions,” O’Malley said, according to CNS. He also noted that the Vatican had showed him a “hefty document that has been assembled.”
O’Malley has said in the past that it’s “difficult to understand” how McCarrick rose through the ranks and “we must be certain that this never happens again.”
O’Malley has been a leader in the church in battling clergy sex abuse. He arrived in Boston in 2003 to deal with the Boston Archdiocese’s sex abuse scandal and has been serving as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children, the blue ribbon panel developing policy recommendations to combat abuse.
O’Malley has been brushed by the McCarrick scandal. He apologized in August 2018 for his office’s mishandling of a letter in 2015 containing allegations against McCarrick.
“The crisis of sexual abuse by clergy is the greatest failure of the Church in my lifetime,” he wrote in a Lenten message to the faithful in March. “It has eroded our moral authority, it endangers our pastoral, social and educational ministry, but worst of all, it devastates children and families.”