LAFAYETTE, Ind. (ChurchMilitant.com) - An Indiana bishop has urged a public investigation of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's crimes.
In an Aug. 5 column for The Catholic Moment, Bp. Timothy Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana suggests the USCCB appoint an "outside investigator" to ferret out bishops who looked the other way — for decades — as McCarrick sexually assaulted minors, seminarians and young priests in his care.
"Who knew what and when, and did not report it?" asked Doherty, chair of the USCCB's Child and Youth Protection Committee.
The mushrooming scandal "has renewed public inquiry about all of us bishops," the bishop noted.
"It does not surprise me," he conceded. "There is evidence that various people made allegations and had reported them in the United States and in Rome."
"What has gone wrong?" Doherty asked. "We deserve to find out."
He also warned that "If the news is damaging, we have to hope it will damage and then help to correct an allegedly corrupt process."
The Lafayette prelate reminded his flock that his proposal is not without precedent.
"It is not impossible for the conference to hire an outside investigator," he explained. "This happened in 2002 when the whole body of the USCCB voted to engage the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to research the matter of clergy abuse of minors."
"I have been trying to frame my disgust, anger and sorrow in some graced way," Doherty acknowledged.
Reflecting on the theme of repentance, he recalled chapter seven of St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians: "Indeed, sorrow for God's sake produces a repentance without regrets, leading to salvation, whereas worldly sorrow brings death."
"In today's context, it applies to the conference of bishops," he observed. "So I pray that ours will not be a worldly sorrow."
Bishop Doherty shared that as the scope of McCarrick's crimes became apparent late last month, he reminded his priests that Article 17 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the "Dallas Charter") calls for "the ongoing human formation of the clergy with regard to chastity and celibacy."
"Expect to see this on our future meeting calendar," he advised.
The bishop also instructed his clergy to review the diocesan code of conduct's statements on "misconduct or harassment."
Those of us in leadership positions have the responsibility to minimize risks to the well-being and reputations of our co-workers and volunteers," he said, "so they can feel safe in their work."
Finally, Doherty warned: "Be aware that all this news touches on our vocations efforts. It can affect the morale of our seminarians and aspirants to religious life. I am aware that their families will have questions concerning treatment of their sons and daughters. I commend this last point to your prayers."
Bishop Doherty's response to the McCarrick scandal stands apart from those of other U.S. prelates; on Friday, his call for an outside investigation drew the attention of NBC 5 News in Chicago.
"Doherty's comments are in stark contrast to Chicago's Cardinal Blase Cupich, who replied by email to several questions from NBC 5, but has refused interview requests," the broadcaster noted. "He spoke at a conference on the death penalty this week, entering through a back stairway and again refusing any media questions."
"Cupich's printed answers said he was not aware of the McCarrick allegations, adding, 'I believe he should be held accountable' and 'I have nothing to add since this matter belongs to the oversight of others but in general I've always supported making people accountable,'" NBC 5 reported.