Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Fall General Assembly in Baltimore on Monday, Cdl. Seán O'Malley, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, announced that the results of the Vatican's investigation into Theodore McCarrick's serial homosexual predation, as well as his rise to power, will be published in the next few months.
"The intention is to publish the Holy See's response soon, if not before Christmas, soon in the new year," said O'Malley.
The Boston cardinal told his brother bishops that the McCarrick inquiry was brought up during recent discussions between Pope Francis and the bishops of New England: "We were not afraid to bring up the question of the report on Theodore McCarrick," O'Malley said, "and we insisted on the importance of publishing a response to the many serious questions of this case."
O'Malley said that in a meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cdl. Pietro Parolin, the New England bishops stressed that U.S. Catholics were growing impatient with the pace of the investigation, and were eager to learn how McCarrick "could become an archbishop and cardinal" while sexually abusing subordinates, as well as "who knew what and when" among the hierarchy.
According O'Malley, Cdl. Parolin "assured" the New England bishops that the Holy See had originally intended to issue the final report ahead of the U.S. bishops' Baltimore meeting, but new information forced the publication date to be pushed back several weeks."The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people," the cardinal conceded, "and indeed a harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence."
O'Malley suggested that inside the Vatican, "There is a desire, a commitment, to be thorough and transparent so as to answer peoples' questions and not simply to create more questions."
His Excellency, Bishop Strickland (@Bishopoftyler), seconds request for update on #Vatican McCarrick Investigation—along with requesting the @USCCB set aside time to “address questions concerning the Deposit of Faith”, & for adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist.#CatholicTwitter pic.twitter.com/OEdtdYcV4V— Bree A Dail (@breeadail) November 11, 2019
The cardinal's comments were prompted by a request from Bp. Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan and Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas for an update on the McCarrick investigation.
Strickland's call echoed one he made in June at the bishops' Spring General Assembly, where he urged that "a full reckoning of the McCarrick scandal be offered," and stressed that, to "bring to light the McCarrick scandal issues as fully as possible," laity should be included in the investigation."
The Vatican announced its inquiry into the McCarrick case in October 2018. In March, Cdl. Parolin pledged that once the investigation is completed, the Holy See will issue a "declaration" on the case.
But many observers are voicing doubt over whether the final report will reveal the truth about McCarrick's rise to power and the cover-up of his serial sexual predation. Instead, given the Vatican's record of concealment, they fear a whitewash.
Whistleblower priest Fr. Boniface Ramsey hinted at these concerns in a February Commonweal article.
"The anger that has arisen among Catholics in response to the cascade of information about McCarrick has been aimed at two things," he wrote. "First, there are the acts that McCarrick was accused of having committed. Second, there is the fact that many of McCarrick's peers in the hierarchy seem to have been aware of at least some of those acts — specifically, those having to do with seminarians — and said nothing."
"McCarrick's brazenness and lack of shame, his indifference to what others who knew of his behavior might have thought of him (and he ought to have known that they knew), are shocking enough," Fr. Ramsey added. "The fact that those who knew about at least some of his misconduct did not shun him — that he was accepted and even fêted by his peers — is every bit as shocking."
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former papal nuncio to the United States, blames the cover-up of McCarrick's crimes on a "homosexual current" inside the Church.
In August 2018, he warned: "These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church."