Obviously the release of the McCarrick Report has caused a great stir in the Catholics world and will continue to do so for some time. It promises to be at the center of everyone’s minds when the US Bishops convene next week for their annual November General Assembly (to be conducted via Zoom due to the pandemic).

There have been many reactions and responses. Here are some of the more notable ones:

First, if you haven’t already, please read our analysis, written by papal biographer Austen Ivereigh:

The summary does not make excuses, nor attempt to justify failings. But nor does it pass judgment. It lays bare facts, provides context, and suggests explanations. Overall, it is a bracingly candid account of how the disgraced former archbishop rose through the episcopal ranks under John Paul II, and how he was able to continue to act freely under Benedict XVI, even when the stories of his sexual proclivities had been shown to be well-founded.

The report leaves readers to draw their own conclusions about the process of decision-making that failed to stop McCarrick or properly hold him responsible until June 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York announced a “credible and substantiated” allegation that McCarrick had abused a minor. (Link)

Andrea Tornielli writes about of the wound that the abuse crisis—and specifically that caused by Theodore McCarrick—has left on the Church:

In the last two decades, the Catholic Church has become more aware of the unspeakable anguish of victims, of the necessity to guarantee the protection of minors, of the importance of norms capable of combatting this phenomenon. The Church has also become more aware of the need to protect against abuse committed against vulnerable adults, and has become more aware of the need to protect against abuse of power. For the Catholic Church, in the United States and in Rome, the case of Theodore McCarrick – a prelate possessing considerable intelligence and preparation, capable of weaving together many relationships both in the political as well as in the inter-religious level – remains an open wound, first and foremost for the pain and suffering caused to his victims. (Link)

In his analysis, Christopher Lamb details how earlier attempts to investigate McCarrick had failed:

John Paul commissioned a secret inquiry into McCarrick via the apostolic nuncio at the time, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo. According to the report this turned out to be inadequate because three US bishops provided “inaccurate and incomplete information”. McCarrick vigorously protested his innocence, while the priest accuser of McCarrick was deemed unreliable because he himself was the abuser of two teenage boys. The Newark archbishop was viewed as “hard-working and effective”. All these factors conspired to get McCarrick the nomination. (Link)

Cindy Wooden, in her report for Catholic News Service, chronicles the missteps taken by Church authorities, including during the papacy of Benedict XVI:

The report also concluded that now-retired Pope Benedict XVI did not initiate a formal canonical process against McCarrick or even impose sanctions on him because “there were no credible allegations of child abuse; McCarrick swore on his ‘oath as a bishop’ that the allegations were false; the allegations of misconduct with adults related to events in the 1980s; and there was no indication of any recent misconduct.”

However, after initially asking McCarrick to stay on in Washington for two years past his 75th birthday in 2005, the summary said, new details related to a priest’s allegations about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct emerged and Pope Benedict asked him to step down in 2006. (Link)

Also writing for CNS, Junno Arocho Esteves details how the McCarrick Report refutes the claims of Archbishop Viganò in his August 2016 “testimony”:

In his 2018 “testimony,” Archbishop Viganò said that then-Cardinal McCarrick continued to actively travel and appear at public events despite “sanctions” imposed by Pope Benedict in which he “was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate (Mass) in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”

However, the Vatican’s report revealed several messages and correspondence between Archbishop Viganò and then-Cardinal McCarrick, indicating that despite his awareness of those restrictions, the former nuncio participated and even invited McCarrick to several events. (Link)

In the National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters argues that the McCarrick story teaches us hard lessons about the dangers of clerical culture and the poor judgement and decision-making of Popes John Paul and Benedict. Winters also describes how this report demolishes the credibility of Archbishop Viganò’s version of events:

The report now gives us an additional reason for Viganò’s tirade: The lady doth protest too much. The summary indicates that when new allegations arose in 2012, and Viganò reported them to the new prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet “instructed Viganò to take certain steps, including an inquiry with specific diocesan officials and Priest 3, to determine if the allegations were credible,” the summary states.

“Viganò did not take these steps and therefore never placed himself in a position to ascertain the credibility of Priest 3. McCarrick continued to remain active, traveling nationally and internationally.” So much for Viganò’s desire to be seen as a crusader for truth! (Link)

Finally, because he is entitled to his own defense, ee’ll give Archbishop Viganò the final word:

The effrontery and fraudulent character shown on this occasion would seem to require, at this point, that we call this suggestive reconstruction of the facts “The Viganò Report,” sparing the reader the unpleasant surprise of seeing reality adulterated once again. But this would have required intellectual honesty, even before love for justice and the truth.

Unlike many characters involved in this story, I do not have any reason to fear that the truth will contradict my denunciations, nor am I in any way blackmailable. Anyone who launches unfounded accusations with the sole purpose of distracting the attention of public opinion will have the bitter surprise of finding that the operation conducted against me will not have any effect, other than giving further proof of the corruption and bad faith of those who for too long have been silent, made denials, and turned their gaze elsewhere, who today must be held accountable. The Vatican fiction continues. (Link)

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Mike Lewis is a writer and graphic designer from Maryland, having worked for many years in Catholic publishing. He's a husband, father of four, and a lifelong Catholic. He's active in his parish and community. He is the founding managing editor for Where Peter Is.

Reactions to the McCarrick Report and Viganò’s Response
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