In a few hours, the McCarrick Report will be released. This document is understood to be around 400 pages long, and it is the result of a two-year investigation into the former prelate’s career in the Church. McCarrick rose to the rank of Cardinal, despite years of rumors and accusations about his predatory behavior with seminarians. Since he was exposed as a sexual predator and suspended from ministry in of June 2018 for two acts of sexual assault on a minor, more victims have come forward. These include more seminarians, as well as a number of minors whom he groomed and abused over a period of time.
In a matter of hours, we’ll know what the report says.
Some of Francis’s critics seem to have already anticipated disappointment or a cover-up by the Vatican. LifeSiteNews ran an article today under the headline, “McCarrick report will seek to lay blame on John Paul, Benedict while minimizing Francis’ fault.” British journalist and outspoken papal critic Damian Thompson sees it in terms of a game or a type of tactical move on the part of the Vatican, tweeting,
McCarrick report: I’m told strategy will be to blame it all on JPII and Dziwicz, while not telling us what Francis, Farrell, Wuerl, Tobin, Gregory knew.
— Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) November 9, 2020
Also on Twitter, Church Militant agreed. Their producer Christine Niles, promoting their special report, and described the McCarrick report as a “whitewash”:
— Christine Niles (@ChristineNiles1) October 10, 2018
This is to be expected. In all honesty, I don’t think the pope’s critics would be satisfied with anything short of a report that exposed Francis as criminally responsible for promoting McCarrick while fully knowing about his secret life. This isn’t about sexual abuse to them, or about an objective analysis of the facts. Since the beginning this was about tying McCarrick to Pope Francis and taking Francis down with him. It seems to have failed. After two years of shouting “Where is the McCarrick Report!“—they don’t sound all too excited about it now that it’s nearly here.
I’m interested in seeing what the McCarrick Report reveals about Archbishop Viganò. Lost in the sensationalism surrounding Viganò’s original testimony was its timing. Remember—McCarrick was suspended in June 2018, Viganò didn’t release his testimony until August. McCarrick was well on his way to his canonical trial, being stripped of his cardinal’s hat, and being defrocked.
Viganò claims to have known about McCarrick’s proclivities in the early 2000s, before becoming nuncio, but he said nothing. During his 2011-2016 tenure as nuncio, nothing was said or done about McCarrick. Think about it. He had access to the files in the nunciature for five years, yet it didn’t occur to him to expose McCarrick until two years after he retired. Then in 2018 he called upon the nunciature to release the files he claims are there.
Why did Viganò wait two years to find his conscience? Some have suggested that he hoped to become a cardinal upon his return to Rome. He enjoyed his reputation of being a whistleblower and a reformer (remember, that’s how he wound up as the US nuncio in the first place). Some have suggested that he hoped to take up a role as a champion of reform in the Vatican. Instead, once his service ended in Washington, he was sent into retirement.
Was it bitterness that caused Viganò to rebel against the pope? The vindictiveness of his testimony letters and his increasingly unhinged and conspiratorial messages suggest that he is a very bitter and troubled man. And, sadly, because his testimony tapped into two key areas: the traditionalists’ opposition to Francis and the public’s anger about the sexual abuse crisis, he did great damage to the Church. Apparently that didn’t matter to Viganò. He had an enemy in his sights and a score to settle.
Viganò certainly has a talent for finding ways to get attention. When he tired of his original topics, he moved on to QAnon-style conspiracy theories and the US presidential election. His increasingly unhinged letters have proven correct Pope Francis’s judgment not to respond. Sadly, many people have been deceived by his rhetoric, even as it’s illogical and ridiculous.
Of course the report comes out in just a few hours. I might be changing my tune in the morning.