A day after the release of the Vatican report on moral lapses by ex-Cardinal McCarrick and the Vatican's role, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the will to fight abuse. Reactions vary.
"I renew my closeness to the victims of every abuse and the commitment of the Church to eradicate this evil," he said Wednesday in his weekly video message from the Vatican. In reference to McCarrick, he spoke of a "painful case".
Catholic bishops in the U.S.: "Another tragic chapter"
Catholic bishops in the U.S. reacted with shock and anger to the release of the investigative report. This one urgently shows "the need to repent," U.S. bishops' conference president Archbishop Jose Gomez said Tuesday (local time). It is "another tragic chapter in the Church's long struggle to confront the crimes of clergy sexual abuse," the Los Angeles archbishop said.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan expressed "deep and sincere sorrow" to all who experienced sexual abuse. He explicitly thanked the victims who had come forward in 2018 and reported their suffering to the archdiocese.
Is more far-reaching processing necessary?
In the view of Anne Barrett Doyles, spokeswoman for the organization Bishop-Accountability, the report is "a powerful argument" against the pope's 2019 decree "Vos estis lux mundi," which places sexual abuse investigations under church self-regulation. Doyle calls for more extensive processing: "Without external supervision, there is no accountability." According to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who was responsible for the report, "Vos estis lux mundi" is significantly influenced by investigations into the McCarrick case.
On Tuesday, the Vatican had released a roughly 450-page report by the curia's leadership on the rise of McCarrick, now 90, who was among the most influential U.S. clergy in the Catholic Church. Following allegations of sexual abuse of minors, McCarrick was dismissed from the cardinalate in 2018 and from the clergy in 2019.
The report reveals a systemic failure of the church hierarchy to take seriously evidence of moral misconduct by the bishop at the time that had been circulating since the 1990s, including an abuse of his position of power for the sexual exploitation of adult candidates for the priesthood and clergy.
Ex-Nuntius Vigano rejects criticism
Former papal nuncio to the U.S. Carlo Maria Vigano called the report a "surreal mystification of who is responsible for covering up the scandals" of ex-cardinal. In addition, he rejected the criticism that as nuncio he had inadequately carried out clarification orders from the Vatican. Vigano's public criticism in the summer of 2018, in which he called on Pope Francis to resign, was one of the triggers for the Vatican Secretariat of State investigation.
For the former editorial director of Vatican News Deutsch, Bernd Hagenkord, the McCarrick report reveals a "cleric-under-self mentality". "As if under a burning glass, it shows "how the Church has dealt with the field of sexual abuse/sexual violence in the past decades," the Jesuit told our site interview. It also said it had become clear that the church lacked orderly procedures to address such personnel problems.