The Latest: McCarrick accuser sees comfort in Vatican report
The Latest on the Vatican’s investigation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and allegations of sexual misconduct (all times local).
A Virginia man who accuses former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of sexually abusing him says he finds some comfort in the Vatican’s release of a report about the former prelate but he wants a public apology.
James Grein says the abuse he experienced for two decades beginning as a boy was “incredibly heinous” and will hurt “forever.”
“How they could ever repair my damage,” he adds, “I don’t know.”
Still, he says the release of the report makes this a “powerful day” for him and other victims.
The Associated Press typically does not name survivors of sexual abuse, unless they have identified themselves publicly. Grein, who came forward in 2018, has filed lawsuits in New York and New Jersey and testified in the canonical sex abuse case against McCarrick.
Mitchell Garabedian, Grein’s attorney, called for an investigation by law enforcement of why what he called a cover-up went on for decades.
“This report really is not new news. It’s what we’ve known for decades,” Garabedian said at a Tuesday news conference. “It’s the blueprint of how to practice child abuse, cover it up, portray yourself as the victim and blame the accusers as being self-serving or greedy or not accurate or mistaken.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VATICAN’S INVESTIGATION:
— A two-year Vatican investigation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick found that a series of bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed reports that he slept with seminarians, and determined that Pope Francis merely continued his predecessors’ handling of the predator until a former altar boy alleged abuse.
— The 449-page internal investigation was published in a bid to restore credibility to the U.S. and Vatican hierarchies, which have been shattered by the McCarrick scandal.
— A summary of the report puts most of the blame on a dead saint: Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington D.C., in 2000, despite having commissioned an inquiry that confirmed he slept with seminarians. The summary says John Paul believed his handwritten denial.
— The report also reveals the previously unknown contents of six anonymous letters accusing McCarrick of pedophilia that were sent to U.S. church leaders in the early 1990s and later forwarded to the Holy See.
— McCarrick, 90, was defrocked by Francis last year after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of allegations that the globe-trotting envoy and successful church fundraiser had sexually molested adults as well as children.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:
Bishop Accountability, which compiles a database of clergy publicly accused of sex abuse, is hailing the Vatican’s report as “the most significant document on the abuse crisis to come from the Church.”
Anne Barrett Doyle is the group’s co-director. She says that “in many ways this is an impressive report — the Vatican’s first forthright account of its own cover-up of a sexual predator.”
She says it is “long, detailed, and it names enablers,” and adds that Bishop Accountability hopes it is the first step toward “genuine transparency.”
Barrett Doyle also says the McCarrick report has deficiencies, including its treatment of Pope Francis’ role.
“Its greatest failure is that it lets Pope Francis off the hook: nobody gave him the files, he knew only that there had been rumors, etc.,” she says. “Didn’t the Pope wonder if those rumors had substance? Anyone with an internet connection could have discovered they did. Francis’ lack of curiosity was at best negligent, at worst corrupt.”
Barrett Doyle also notes the report doesn’t account for McCarrick’s handling of abusive priests in the dioceses he ran.
An advocate in Argentina for survivors of clerical sex abuse says ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick caused tremendous hurt and laments that church officials knew but did not act.
Julieta Añazco is the co-founder and former head of the Argentine Network of Survivors of Ecclestiastical Abuse and currently a member of Churches Without Abuses.
She tells The Associated Press that “the damage and the pain that McCarrick cannot be calculated” and that “everyone knew,” including Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, powerful cardinals and top Vatican officials.
Añazco says “any official could have put a stop to it, but they did not.”
Añazco praises the release of the Vatican’s report on its investigation of the case, however, saying it is “at least a step toward transparency.”
She calls on Francis to publish findings on a school for the hearing-impaired in Mendoza province where dozens of students denounced abuse by clerics and lay workers. Two priests were convicted in the case last year and sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.
The bishop of the New Jersey diocese of Metuchen, which was headed by Theodore McCarrick when it was established in 1981, says he is “disgusted and appalled” by the sex abuse scandal involving the ex-cardinal.
Bishop James Checchio says that “while I am grateful to Pope Francis for ordering this study to arrive at the ‘truth’ of what happened, like everyone else, I am disgusted and appalled by what has taken place.”
He adds that the Vatican’s report on its McCarrick investigation “will, undoubtedly, cause sadness, anxiety, frustration, anger, disgust and pain.”
Checchio says that since implementing new abuse prevention policies in 2002, the diocese “has not received a single credible complaint of abuse involving a minor in any of our schools or parishes by diocesan clergy.”
He laments that the diocese’s founding will “always be associated with the history of Theodore McCarrick and the culture of abuse, silence and shame that was allowed to perpetuate in the dark corners of our past,” but says there is “a new opportunity to lead lives of increased holiness.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is crediting the abuse survivors who approached the archdiocese with their allegations against McCarrick.
Dolan says they “helped bring this matter to light, proving that anyone who has abused a minor, even a cardinal, will be punished.”
He says that when the first allegation was reported, church officials asked the Vatican for permission to arrange for an outside investigation and to have the issue judged by a lay review board, and Pope Francis responded by saying the case should be handled “as you would for any priest accused of abuse.”
Dolan praises Francis for trusting the processes followed by the archdiocese and others in the country, saying it “was very affirming, and will lead, I hope, to others having the confidence to come forward, knowing that their allegations will be handled seriously, sensitively, and appropriately.”
The archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, says the Vatican’s investigation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick “represents a significant and powerful step forward in advancing accountability and transparency regarding sexual abuse.”
Tobin says “failures by some leaders in the Catholic Church have wounded many,” but “the Church has made progress in responding to clergy abuse by implementing and updating policies and programs to safeguard the faithful, especially the most vulnerable among us.”
Cardinal-designate Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington D.C., says his “heart hurts for all who will be shocked, saddened, scandalized and angered by the revelations” in the report.
Gregory says the disclosure is necessary if there is to be “true redemptive healing.”
“This is an important, difficult and necessary document,” Gregory says, “and it demands prayerful, thorough and thoughtful reflection.”
And Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says the McCarrick scandal is “another tragic chapter in the Church’s long struggle to confront the crimes of sexual abuse by clergy.”
He expresses his “profound sorrow and deepest apologies” to the ex-cardinal’s victims, their families and all survivors of clerical sex abuse.
“This report underscores the need for us to repent and grow in our commitment to serve the people of God,” Gomez says.
A lawyer whose firm is handling five cases naming Theodore McCarrick as a perpetrator of sex abuse says the Vatican’s report on its investigation into the former cardinal “has the potential to be an historic first step toward top-down transparency within the Catholic Church.”
Attorney Jeff Anderson says the report is “unprecedented” in that, for the first time, “the Vatican has engaged a third-party, non-clergy lawyer to conduct the investigation, collect the evidence, connect the dots, and expose not only a perpetrator, but a system that put children in peril for decades.”
Anderson says Pope Francis’ actions going forward “will determine if he will lead a Church thoroughly committed to the healing and justice it espouses by walking the hard road of accountability, or one willing to expose only its most notorious offender to keep our eyes off those hiding in the shadows.”
SNAP, a network representing survivors of clergy sex-abuse, is welcoming the Vatican’s report on its investigation of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick but says many more steps need to be taken to prevent abuse.
The group calls for the removal of “any prelate who was aware of McCarrick’s crimes and did nothing,” as well as “a pope who is willing to talk earnestly and often about what actions he is taking to combat clergy abuse worldwide.”
SNAP says the abuse crisis is an ongoing one, and transparency and accountability are still lacking.
It calls the report “one step in the right direction” but says the Vatican must ensure that past mistakes will not be repeated.
“Awareness is good,” it says. “But awareness is meaningless without concrete action.”