A US-based lay accountability group has urged Pope Francis to accept the “resignations of all those involved” in the cover-up of the abuse crimes of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

– “Clear repudiation and sanctions are needed against those still in office”: Voice of the Faithful

Voice of the Faithful, a group of Catholics in the pews which formed at the height of the clergy sex abuse crisis in the US in 2002 and has since grown to more than 30,000 members worldwide, made the appeal to the pontiff in a statement released November 10, on the same day the Vatican released its fateful ‘McCarrick Report’.

“As the summary of the Vatican’s report shows, the line of bishops complicit in covering up, and at least implicitly condoning, [McCarrick’s] behavior stretches from his peers in the [US Conference of Catholic Bishops] all the way to the Vatican”, Voice of the Faithful denounced.

Voice of the Faithful president Mary Pat Fox decried that “Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both knew of the credible allegations against McCarrick, and the report summary names the bishops and curial officials who also knew”.

“Clear repudiation and sanctions are needed against those still in office to demonstrate some effort at holding bishops accountable”, Fox insisted.

The lay leader said that the group hopes “that Pope Francis will demonstrate his own sorrow for accepting the word of other bishops before, finally, ordering this investigation”. “An excellent demonstration would be accepting the resignations of all those involved”, Fox concluded.

– Cardinal O’Malley: Report “painful and shameful”

The appeal of Voice of the Faithful to Pope Francis came as bishops in the US Catholic hierarchy were beginning to digest the results of the Vatican investigations made public Tuesday.

Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley – who also serves as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors – described the Vatican report as “a painful and shameful account of how someone in McCarrick’s position rose to the role of bishop and cardinal and caused so much harm to so many”.

“In word and deed, Pope Francis has followed through on his commitment to a comprehensive, transparent and thorough investigation”, the cardinal said, upholding the courageous role of McCarrick’s victims who came forward in this investigation.

It is to them, O’Malley said, and to all victims of clergy abuse that “we offer our commitment to take responsibility for our failures and our continued resolve of responsibility, accountability and transparency”.

He said it is no longer enough for the Church to simply ask for forgiveness, to pledge transparency and apologise, and reiterated the Church’s “obligation” to “hold accountable those responsible for such reprehensible violations of human dignity and ensure that every effort is being made to assure the safety of our people”.

Cardinal O’Malley concluded assuring the faithful that “reporting systems that have been set up to respond to the issue of clergy sexual abuse are providing a means for any person to report allegations of abuse against a bishop or cardinal”, and promising to carefully review the findings of this report and continue to serve in the ongoing process to eradicate the scourge of clergy sexual abuse.

– Cardinal Cupich: “Another example of Pope Francis’ commitment to responsibility, accountability and transparency”

For his part, Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich described the release of the Vatican’s McCarrick report as an “unprecedented and a watershed moment as it pulls back the curtain on a culture of clericalism that has separated the clergy from the people they have been ordained to serve”.

Cupich said that while the document makes for painful reading, “it is fearless in admitting the failures of Church leaders”, and is “another example of Pope Francis’ commitment to responsibility, accountability and transparency to all victim-survivors and others” who have suffered from abuse and misconduct by the clergy, including bishops, of the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Cupich said he is grateful to Pope Francis for ordering the report and to those who carried out his mandate, and reiterated his belief that the dossier should “be read in full and in the context of the strong direction provided by Pope Francis at the 2019 summit on these matters and the subsequent measures he has taken”.

The cardinal concluded quoting the apostolic letter Vos Estis Lux Mundi, in which the Pope calls us to eliminate “the sin of clericalism, hear the cries of the victims and place the faithful, especially children, at the heart of everything we do and every judgment we make in working to prevent abuse and to support those affected by this tragedy”.

“Let us seize this moment”, Cupich urged, to “build on what we have already done and go forward in fidelity to the call of Christ to protect the most vulnerable among us”.

(With reporting by Vatican News)

More on Novena on the McCarrick scandal:

11/11: General Audience: Pope rues “sad” ‘McCarrick Report’, renews Church’s commitment to eradicate “evil” of clergy sex abuse

Abuse survivors call for “immediate… punishment and expulsion” of McCarrick cronies: “Awareness is meaningless without concrete action”

US Bishops express “sorrow and apologies” for McCarrick scandal, “another tragic chapter in the Church’s long struggle” against abuse

Vatican releases report on ex-cardinal McCarrick, says John Paul hired him, Benedict fired but did not try him and Francis trusted in predecessors

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.