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Rome Reports

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George Weigel on McCarrick Report: McCarrick brazenly lied to John Paul II

The McCarrick Report published by the Vatican focuses on “institutional knowledge and decision-making” related to the former cardinal, who was expelled from the cardinalate and the priesthood for crimes against minors and adults. 

It analyzes the roles of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis in Theodore McCarrick's trajectory within the Church.

The report states that in the year 2000, John Paul II made McCarrick archbishop of Washington, and later, a cardinal, despite rumors of sexual abuse committed by the latter.

The report says John Paul II made this decision based on incomplete and inaccurate information he received from bishops regarding McCarrick's behavior, as well as on a letter McCarrick wrote to John Paul II's secretary, in which he firmly denied the allegations against him.

John Paul II's Biographer
“The report makes very clear that he brazenly lied to John Paul II in the letter he sent after some cautions were raised about his appointment to Washington. Pathological liars deceive people, including saints. Saints are not immune to being deceived by pathological liars.”

George Weigel, author of “Witness to Hope,” an internationally acclaimed biography of John Paul II, points out the Church's relatively quick response once concrete information was presented.

John Paul II's Biographer
“Once real evidence was available, in 2017, that Theodore McCarrick had abused a minor, that charge was immediately acted upon by Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York, and when their investigation showed the charge to be credible, it was sent to Rome.”

Weigel also points out that much has changed in the 20 years since Theodore McCarrick made his way up the Church's hierarchical ladder. For example, the Holy See has set up various protocols to facilitate reporting and investigating cases of abuse within the Church. 

John Paul II's Biographer
“We need to support that change, and we need to support the overwhelming majority of good priests and good bishops we know. All of that having been said, it's also true that this is a terrible story, that it exhibits, it displays, or illustrates, a big system failure in the Church, and that is a cautionary tale for the future.”

Weigel also says Catholics should pray for McCarrick's repentance and conversion, and that “real reform of the priesthood and episcopate is essential where a clerical caste system remains in place in the Church.” It's one of the ideas in his latest book, “The Next Pope,” which analyzes the priorities of the pontificate.