241 days after the news of Theodore McCarrick first broke last summer, Pope Francis has finally defrocked Theodore McCarrick. It appears to be the first time that a cardinal or bishop in the United States has been defrocked, or laicized, from the Roman Catholic Church, and the first time any cardinal has been laicized for sexual abuse. Laicization, which strips a person of all priestly identity, also revokes church-sponsored resources like housing and financial benefits.
But as Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture is correct in stating the underlying problem still remains.
We cannot hope to unravel this scandal until we understand how McCarrick came to power. How did he escape punishment—and even climb up the hierarchical ladder—even when his misconduct was an open secret? Who were his patrons in Rome?
Archbishop Vigano has told us where to look for the answers to these questions: in the archives of the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Congregation for Bishops, in the files of the apostolic nunciature in Washington. The relevant documents are safe from subpoena by any American prosecutor; they are under the Vatican’s sovereign control. But the Vatican could make them available. And until they are examined, by trustworthy independent investigators, please don’t ask us to believe that a symbolic penalty on an aged prelate represents a new commitment to accountability.
Remember the US Bishops Conference in November when Pope Francis stepped in at the very last minute, once bishops had already gathered? John Zmirak reported at The Stream:
Pope Francis sent an order to the bishops not to vote on any plan for reforming their ranks. They duly obeyed his order, and even defeated a toothless, symbolic motion to ask the Vatican to release the files on Cardinal McCarrick. It received less than 40 percent of the votes.
One of the worst cover-up artists, ex-Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, actually addressed the proceedings. To pontificate, not to atone for his previous sins and crimes, which apparently included perjury. Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago arose to insist that bishops not lump in sexual harassment and predation on seminarians with child abuse, since the former might include “consensual” relationships. As if “consensual” sodomy between bishops and future priests were somehow … not a problem for Christians.
The cover-up continues.