At 93 and apparently suffering from dementia, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is unlikely to be tried on criminal charges of sexual abuse. It’s likewise doubtful he’ll ever testify in court in pending civil lawsuits against him. And the Vatican seems to have moved on, having issued a long report about him almost three years ago, more than a year and a half after Pope Francis dismissed him from the clerical state.
But some Catholics remain frustrated with what they see as unanswered questions. Among them:
- Who helped McCarrick rise in the Church hierarchy?
- Which bishop candidates did he champion, and why?
- Who in the hierarchy knew about McCarrick’s behavior with teenagers and young men, when did they know it, and why didn’t they stop it?
In November 2020, the Vatican released a 449-page report on McCarrick that describes how the smooth-talking cleric rose through the ranks and consolidated his position through charm, talent and cash gifts.
It also states that reports were made to Church leaders as early as 1992 that McCarrick frequently used his position to manipulate overnight guests into unwanted sexual activity. Yet McCarrick remained active in the Church until public allegations surfaced in June 2018, almost 26 years later, during which time he reached the highest levels of the Catholic Church and frequently represented the Holy See abroad, even after his retirement as archbishop of Washington.
Some prominent Catholics in the United States are calling for an independent investigation, saying that neither the secular legal system nor the Church has provided enough answers.
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