The McCarrick Report: Seeking the truth in order to convert

Federico Lombardi, SJ

 Federico Lombardi, SJ / Church Life / 27 January 2021

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On November 10, 2020, the “Report on the Holy See’s Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick” was made public in both Italian and English.[1] It had been compiled over the course of two years by the Secretariat of State at the behest of the Holy Father Pope Francis.

Many have wondered if it was necessary to make public via internet such a voluminous and detailed document (449 pages, with 1,410 notes). It makes for painful reading, and is heavy going due to the frequent returns to the same events. Parts of it are unsuitable for people who could be traumatized.

Why the Report?

There were compelling reasons for its publication because of the two main questions that arose when the gravity of the charges against the former cardinal emerged, which the Report sets out to answer with courageous truth.

In the Church in general, and in the United States in particular, episodes of sexual abuse have provoked strong reactions, not only because of the horror of the crimes involved, but also because of mismanagement and concealment by the ecclesiastical authorities, even at a high level, to the point of people speaking of a “cover up culture.” The McCarrick case, because of its extreme gravity and given the man’s importance, has raised this problem again not only within the Church of the United States, but also in relation to the Holy See, due to McCarrick’s appointments to various episcopal sees and his elevation to the cardinalate. What was known about his behavior during the various stages of the nomination process, and in Rome when those decisions were made? That was the first question.


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