The Cardinal McCarrick scandal raises awkward questions for Church leaders

Responding to the accusation that he fondled a 16-year-old male 47 years ago, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said last month: “I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse and believe in my innocence.”

However, the Archdiocese of New York found the claim “credible and substantiated”. The Vatican told the prelate, well-known for his high-profile causes and extensive travelling, that he could no longer exercise his public ministry.

McCarrick is planning to appeal against this judgment, through the normal canonical process.

But there is more to the story. Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, where McCarrick served as bishop and archbishop from 1981 until 2000, revealed: “This Archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.”

Judging by reports, “everyone” in certain Church circles had an inkling that there was something wrong with McCarrick’s conduct. What did members of the hierarchy know, and did they fail to act on that knowledge?

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