The McCarrick Report – After The Dust Has Settled

It’s been almost twenty years since this writer introduced St. Peter Damian’s moral masterpiece, the Book of Gomorrah, [1] to readers of Catholic Family News. [2]

And now, thanks to CFN editor Matt Gaspers, here I am again – this time to review somewhat belatedly, the long-awaited “Report on the Holy See’s Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), aka, “the Report,” released by the Holy See on November 10, 2020. [3]

The reader will recall that the McCarrick investigation was initiated by Pope Francis on October 6, 2018. Thus, by the time the Report was published, two years had passed, and the McCarrick case had already been adjudicated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. McCarrick had been convicted of sexual solicitation during the Sacrament of Confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue with minors and adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power. [4] He had resigned the Cardinalate and had been laicized, that is, reduced to the lay state and was living at an undesignated location.

One of the primary advantages of being able to assess the 449-page online document retrospectively, is that it has afforded this writer an opportunity to reread and examine the report multiple times in greater depth in an atmosphere more conducive to serious reflection and study.

Also, what was not clear when the Report was initially published, is that the document was not researched, written, and vetted by clerical staffers within the Vatican Secretariat of State, but by an American lawyer named Jeffrey Stanley Lena of Berkeley, California, and his associates.

Lena is the legal lay consultant and public relations conferee who represents the Holy See on civil matters in American courts. He has worked for the Vatican since 2000, and has an office at the Secretariat in Rome. As a member of the “Papal Teams” of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis, Lena has successfully represented the Holy See for more than twenty years in a number of highly publicized legal cases in the United States. [5]

Knowing that the McCarrick Report was ultimately put together by an American lawyer working for the Holy See explains a great deal about the Report’s style and its restricted scope, evidence, and content.

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