Vatican breaks silence on McCarrick case

What happened?

Pope Francis has ordered a “thorough study” of Vatican files relating to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, the Holy See said on Saturday. It comes more than a month after Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò alleged Pope Francis had ignored sanctions imposed by Benedict XVI against McCarrick. The next day a letter was released from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, attacking Viganò, saying Viganò’s charges “cannot come from the Spirit of God”.

What commentators are saying

John Allen, writing at Crux, said the Vatican had released “exactly the response that many critics have been clamouring for”. He also noted that the statement “seemed to prepare the ground for revelations that might be unsettling”. The Vatican statement said a review of the files might uncover “choices … that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues”. “Translated into plain English,” Allen said, “[this] means that somebody on our end may have dropped the ball.”

Christopher Altieri, writing at Catholic World Report, argued that the Vatican’s promise of a “thorough study” was “not worth much”, as it was not clear whether the results of such a study would be fully disclosed. “The Holy See is implicated in this devilish business,” he wrote. “Whatever they release will be about as credible as the Nixon administration’s redacted transcripts of the Oval Office conversations about the Watergate cover-up.” Altieri concluded: “Make no mistake: they’re trolling us now.”

Rocco Palmo, at his blog Whispers in the Loggia, focused on Cardinal Ouellet’s letter, describing it as “spectacular and blistering”. He noting that Oullet implied a “demonic motive to the diplomat’s assault on Francis”. But he said that Ouellet confirmed, “albeit to a degree, a central claim of Viganò’s first j’accuse, writing that, in years past, McCarrick ‘had been strongly advised not to travel and not to appear in public, so as not to provoke additional rumours in his regard’ ”. The Wall Street Journal agreed, announcing in its headline: “Vatican denounces accusation against Pope but confirms key point.”

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