One year later, still no answers from Vatican on McCarrick scandal

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 13, 2019

Just about one year ago, the members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted down a resolution that would have, in respectful terms, “encouraged” the Vatican to release documents relevant to the case of the disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

This week, in a report to the USCCB, Cardinal Sean O’Malley said that he expected the Vatican to provide a report on the McCarrick affair “soon.”

When they voted against that resolution last year, the American bishops were expressing their confidence that the Vatican would provide some clarity “soon,” without unnecessary prodding. No such luck.

Last year at this time, “soon” might have meant prior to the meeting in Rome this past February, at which bishops from around the world discussed the abuse scandal and the resulting crisis of conscience in Church leadership. But No.

We know where to look for the documents in question. They’re in the files of the apostolic nuncio in Washington, and/or the offices of the Roman Curia. It shouldn’t take a year to dig them out.

Cardinal O’Malley reported this week that he has reminded the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, that the American bishops want to know “who knew what and when” about McCarrick’s misconduct. He 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.”

The seeming silence? If it seems to you that the Vatican is silent, there’s a reason for that impression. Sixteen months after the scandal became public—sixteen months after outraged American Catholics began demanding honest answers to obvious questions—the Vatican has not responded.

But don’t worry, and above all don’t become “even cynical.” We’ll have the answers—well, we’ll have some answers—“soon.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 17, 2019 8:24 PM ET USA

    McCarrick holds a peculiar record: the highest ranking and the most corrupt American prelate. To date.

  • Posted by: mclom - Nov. 16, 2019 7:04 AM ET USA

    Does someone, or do several people, think they are Our Lord reincarnated? He, God, did remain silent in the face of calumnies and lies, but churchmen are NOT Jesus. The silence is unforgivable. I cannot help but wonder if many papers have been found to have been ‘lost’.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 13, 2019 1:27 PM ET USA

    I wonder if we are experiencing clericalism first hand.