The US Catholic Bishops have expressed their “profound sorrow and deepest apologies” for the scandal of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, acknowledging that the scandal surrounding the abusive former Archbishop of Washington is “another tragic chapter in the Church’s long struggle to confront the crimes of sexual abuse by clergy”.
– Gratitude to Pope for “calling the Church to greater accountability and transparency”
In the wake of the publication today of the Vatican report into former cardinal McCarrick – laicised by Pope Francis in 2019 on the basis of substantiated allegations of the sex abuse of minors, seminarians and young priests – US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) president Archbishop José H, Gomez released a statement welcoming the results of the Holy See’s investigations.
“We are studying these findings, and we are grateful to our Holy Father Pope Francis for his pastoral concern for the family of God in the United States and his leadership in calling the Church to greater accountability and transparency in addressing issues of abuse and the mishandling of abuse claims at every level”, affirmed Gomez.
The USCCB president expressed his “profound sorrow and deepest apologies” not only to McCarrick’s victims and their families but also to every survivor of clerical sex abuse.
“Please know that my brother bishops and I are committed to doing whatever is in our power to help you move forward and to ensure that no one suffers what you have been forced to suffer”, Gomez told them, also urging others who may have fallen prey to pedophile priests to come forward and denounce their suffering.
Gomez closed his statement highlighting that the publication of the Vatican McCarrick report “underscores the need for us to repent and grow in our commitment to serve the people of God”.
“Let us all continue to pray and strive for the conversion of our hearts, and that we might follow Jesus Christ with integrity and humility”, Gomez concluded.
– Bishop of Metuchen “disgusted and appalled” by latest revelations
In the meantime, bishops presently serving in McCarrick’s former dioceses in the US also individually welcomed the publication of the Holy See’s report.
In New York, where McCarrick served as auxiliary bishop between 1977 and 1981, current archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan praised survivors of McCarrick’s abuse, saying that their testimony “helped bring this matter to light, proving that anyone who has abused a minor, even a cardinal, will be punished”.
In the diocese of Metuchen, where McCarrick was bishop between 1981 and 1986, present bishop James F. Checcho declared that “while I am grateful to Pope Francis for ordering this study to arrive at the ‘truth’ of what happened, like everyone else, I am disgusted and appalled by what has taken place”.
Checchio recognised that the publication of the Vatican investigation “will, undoubtedly, cause sadness, anxiety, frustration, anger, disgust and pain”. But he said that the end of this painful chapter opens the way to “a new opportunity to lead lives of increased holiness”.
In the meanwhile, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Newark archdiocese – where McCarrick was posted between 1986-2000 – called the publication of the Vatican McCarrick report “a significant and powerful step forward in advancing accountability and transparency regarding sexual abuse”.
“Failures by some leaders in the Catholic Church have wounded many”, Tobin acknowledged, as he also argued that the Church has learned from its past mistakes, and “has made progress in responding to clergy abuse by implementing and updating policies and programs to safeguard the faithful, especially the most vulnerable among us”.
Lastly in the US, cardinal-elect Wilton Gregory of the Washington archdiocese – McCarrick’s home between 2000-2006 – said his “heart hurts for all who will be shocked, saddened, scandalized and angered” by the latest Vatican revelations around the abusive former cardinal.
Nonetheless, Gregory called the Vatican report on McCarrick “an important, difficult and necessary document” that “demands prayerful, thorough and thoughtful reflection” if there is to be “true redemptive healing”.
– Vatican cardinal Parolin expresses “sorrow” but calls Catholics to “conversion of hearts”
Also reflecting on the McCarrick report today was Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, whose department prepared the new dossier.
In a statement, Parolin acknowledged that those of the McCarrick report “are pages that encourage us to reflect deeply and ask ourselves what more we can do in the future, learning from the painful experiences of the past”.
“We publish the report with sorrow for the wounds that these events have caused to the victims, their families, the Church in the United States, and the Universal Church”, Parolin said, even as he encouraged Catholics to regard the dossier with an “outlook of hope”.
“For these facts not to be repeated, alongside more effective norms, we need a conversion of hearts. We need credible pastors who proclaim the Gospel, and we must all be well aware that this is only possible with the grace of the Holy Spirit, trusting in the words of Jesus: ‘Without me you can do nothing'”, Parolin underlined.