In 2018, the Vatican defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick who was eventually convicted of sexual abuse of minors and adults – aggravated by the abuse of power – and solicitation in the confessional. After two years of careful internal investigation, the report was published on November 10, 2020 by the Vatican Secretariat of State which spanning the years 1930 to 2017 and addresses how McCarrick’s sexual misconduct was overlooked and how he was able to rise in the ranks of the Church. The stunning report is a detailed account of how McCarrick grew in power and prestige while rumors and some written evidence of his sexual misconduct did not receive proper investigation. The report is a sorrowful and embarrassing story for the Catholic Church. It puts much attention on Pope John Paul II when McCarrick began gaining stature. In his career, McCarrick had been passed up in the past for major postings because of accusations and rumors against him. In 1999 John Paul II was told that McCarrick shared a bed with young seminarians whom he had authority over. However, John Paul II rejected those allegations and was apparently convinced by a personal letter from McCarrick denying that he had ever had “sexual relations with any person.” At that time, the Church considered sex by priests with other adult men to be sinful but not as grave a sin as abuse of a minor. The Church had not yet really identified how adult seminarians could be victims of a more powerful cleric in charge of their careers. The Pope was successfully deceived by McCarrick and was made archbishop of Washington D.C., a huge career jump. In the report there were attempts made to explain that unwise John Paul II’s decision. Four U.S. bishops were asked if they knew of any moral weakness shown by McCarrick. Three of the four bishops gave inaccurate and incomplete information to the Pope. The fourth- Bishop Edward Hughes said allegations against McCarrick “came from priests who were guilty of their own moral lapses.” The report describes how John Paul II and McCarrick might have also become friendly while sharing time on overseas trips. Also Pope John Paul II was aware from his native county of communist Poland how sometimes smear campaigns were conducted against priests. The McCarrick report goes on to describes how the next pope – Benedick XVI tried to quietly handle
the then Cardinal McCarrick and keep his sexual misconduct out of the public spotlight. From 2005 to 2013 the Vatican was indecisive when receiving new details on McCarrick from a priest and from two memos from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó in 2006 and 2008 warning about the potential of a possible scandal. Pope Benedick XVI made the decision not to levy overt penalties on McCarrick but instead to appeal to his “conscience and ecclesial spirit” and to reduce his travel in the church’s name. McCarrick generally ignored Benedick’s requests