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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Continual coverage of the COVID-19 scare has served to drive other pressing stories off the front pages.
For Catholics, one important story is suffering from inattention — the long-promised report on the crimes of disgraced former cardinal and abuser Theodore McCarrick has yet to be delivered. It was 612 days ago (July 16, 2018) when a story in the New York Times on the former cardinal's double life as an abuser of young men and seminarians broke.
Within a month, Cdl. Daniel N. DiNardo of the Galveston-Houston diocese, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a statement, calling for:
a full investigation of questions surrounding Abp. McCarrick [he had resigned his position as cardinal]. These answers are necessary to prevent a recurrence, and so help to protect minors, seminarians and others who are vulnerable in the future. We will therefore invite the Vatican to conduct an apostolic visitation to address these questions, in concert with a group of predominantly lay people identified for their expertise by members of the National Review Board and empowered to act.
His statement went on to promise a plan to be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November 2018. However, that was short-circuited by the Vatican. Signals that the U.S. bishops were going to be prevented from pursuing their plan were sent a few weeks earlier.
As the meeting was called to order, Cdl. DiNardo stunned the assembly by reading a statement from the Vatican instructing the bishops to cease all investigations and plans and discussions regarding Theodore McCarrick, as well as their new plan to sanction bishops who had abused children or failed to remove abusive priests from ministry until after a Vatican-convened global meeting on sex abuse in February 2019.
In a revealing moment, Pope Francis' point man in the U.S. hierarchy, Chicago Cdl. Blase Cupich, leaped to the microphone and instructed the assembled bishops to follow the directive and, essentially, move on with other business.
That announcement effectively brought to an end any further formal discussion or investigation by U.S. bishops into the life and times and crimes of Theodore McCarrick — a man to whom many of the bishops in the room owed their own episcopal consecrations.
Thomas Reese, reporting in the National Catholic Reporter, said, "From any vantage, the Vatican intervention was extremely disappointing."
Given the sharp turn of events in Baltimore and the clear leadership role Cdl. Cupich had obviously been given by Pope Francis, few were surprised that Cupich had been tabbed to head the Roman February sex summit where he disallowed any discussion whatsoever about the underlying cause of the predator clergy crisis — homosexuality among the clergy.
Later that year, at the November 2019 Baltimore meeting of the U.S. bishops, Boston's Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley told the gathered the Vatican might publish what it knows about McCarrick's ascent to power by Christmas, or perhaps the New Year.
In his first audience with the pope in late January 2020 when the report had still not be released, Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, asked about the promised McCarrick report. Afterward, Strickland told Catholic News Service only that "work on the report is underway, and it will be released in the future."
Another two months later, the report still has not been released. The continued delay does not surprise one of McCarrick's most well-known abuse victims, James Grein, who told Church Militant: "The pope just does not care, period. Francis never cared about me or anyone who was abused. McCarrick abused so many that Francis is numb to me and all others. Pope Francis is not my pope."
Following the headlines about McCarrick's crimes, Fox News anchor Martha McCallum, host of The Story with Martha McCallum, investigated the disgraced cleric's move to Capuchin St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas.
She reported that the newly appointed bishop of Salina, Gerald Lee Vincke, "reluctantly gave his blessing [to the move] as McCarrick was suddenly placed at the friary by embattled Cdl. Donald Wuerl, who ultimately had to resign himself for covering up clerical sex abuse in his archdiocese."
This detail, innocently revealed by the new bishop, raises the question: why was Donald Wuerl involved in finding housing for McCarrick? Who gave him that role?
Furthermore, as one Victoria resident remarked, "If he's [McCarrick] no longer a priest, he should not be living there [with other priests at the friary].
In January 2020, the friary announced that one of the world's most famous sex abusers had left and was relocating to an undisclosed location, "secluded and away from public attention." Speculations about McCarrick's whereabouts, including whether he is still alive, have been widely circulating.
One of the reasons his location is important is his history as an abuser. Communities would want to know if he were living near a university, a high school or a seminary.
Church Militant has been able to verify that McCarrick was alive on Christmas 2019. Church officials will release no information on his whereabouts.
Perhaps, "in due course," all will be revealed in the promised McCarrick report.
Church Militant contacted Cdl. Cupich, Cdl. DiNardo and Bp. Strickland for comment but none were available.