McCarrick Survivor Sues Vatican

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by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 9, 2019   

Action follows lawsuit against McCarrick, archdiocese of Newark

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NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - A victim of serial sexual predator Theodore McCarrick is suing the Vatican, a week after filing a complaint against the archdiocese of Newark and the former cardinal himself. 

On Monday, John Bellocchio of Hackensack, New Jersey filed suit against the Holy See in the Federal Court of the Southern District of New York, alleging the Vatican was complicit in his abuse. 

At a press conference in Manhattan, Bellocchio attorney Jeff Anderson, who specializes in prosecuting clerical sex abuse cases, slammed Pope Francis and his predecessors for cover-up.

"The origin of the problem" is in the Vatican, he said, noting that members of the hierarchy "refuse to come clean and to protect those that need to be protected and to change the practices and protocols that are employed both by this pope, Pope Francis; his predecessor, Pope Benedict; his predecessor, John Paul the Second, and those that preceded them."


Anderson described Bellocchio's case as "deeply sorrowful," as the Vatican was apparently aware of McCarrick's pattern of predation years before Bellocchio was abused.

Last week, fellow McCarrick victim James Grein announced that he personally informed Pope John Paul II of the former cardinal's history in 1988, but that nothing was done to stop him. McCarrick went on to assault Bellocchio, beginning in the mid-1990s.

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Siobhan O'Connor (The Buffalo News)

Speaking alongside Anderson on Monday was Buffalo whistleblower Siobahn O'Connor, who helped expose former Bp. Richard Malone's efforts to conceal sex abuse in his diocese.

"So many survivors inspired me to bring the truth forward to the extent I could, so that the people of the diocese of Buffalo, and especially the survivors of the diocese of Buffalo, would understand the full scope of the abuse scandal there."

"Unfortunately Bp. Malone, our former bishop, was not able to transparently and effectively lead us out of that scandal, so he has now resigned."

O'Connor observed that the crisis in Buffalo "isn't really that unique," adding:

We know more about the scandal in Buffalo, but I believe similar that similar problems exist in dioceses all over this country and all over the world and the change absolutely has to come from the top. If that toxic secrecy and that culture that enables this kind of behavior and crimes and that also facilitates the cover-up — if that doesn't change at the top, how can we expect it to change any further down the line?

Through his complaint, Bellocchio is asking the Federal Court of the Southern District of New York order the Vatican to release the identities of all offenders "known exclusively to the Vatican and held in strict secrecy," to "release the files and pertinent histories" of the offenders, and to "report all evidence held secretly in its possession of clerical crimes to law enforcement worldwide."

It's time for a clean-up from the top down to ensure the protection of the common good, most especially children.

"It's time for a clean-up from the top down to ensure the protection of the common good," Bellocchio said Monday, "most especially children." 

Also speaking at the press conference was Joseph Caramanno, who was abused by Msgr. John Paddack at Staten Island's St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School in 2001–2002.

"This is very significant for me today because we're looking at the whole picture, the whole Church," he said.

Reflecting on the beauty of "the universality of the Church," Caramanno noted, "you can go anywhere in the world and the sacraments are the same, the Mass is the same, the prayers are the same, but unfortunately, so are these practices."

"If it's going on here — the cover-up, the scandals, the unassuming behavior — it can be determined that it is going on around the world. ... The Church is very good at taking care of their own. We know that."

But, Caramanno added, "We are their own. Why aren't they taking care of us?"

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