“And Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)
This past Tuesday, the Vatican released the long awaited report on “the Holy See’s institutional knowledge and decision-making related to former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick.” The former Cardinal McCarrick had previously served as Bishop of the Dioceses of Metuchen and Newark in New Jersey, and then later was made the Cardinal-Archbishop of Washington D.C. In June 2018, the Archdiocese of New York revealed that McCarrick had been credibly accused of sexually abusing a teenager. Later media reports emerged accusing McCarrick of the serial abuse of minors and of coercion, manipulation, and abuse of seminarians and priests. McCarrick was removed from ministry and resigned from the College of Cardinals in the summer of 2018 and was subsequently laicized in February 2019.
The full “McCarrick Report” is 461 pages long and can be found here. What it details in an incredibly painful way is that many church leaders, both in the United States and in the Vatican, were aware of his inappropriate behavior and failed to stop him. The former Cardinal McCarrick at one time was one of the most powerful church leaders in America and was deeply connected in a variety of international circles. The report details the use of his considerable talents and charisma to serially coerce, manipulate, and abuse children, teenagers, and adults, while at the same time trying to convince other church leaders of his innocence. Archbishop Listecki released a statement this past Monday in anticipation of the report (found here) in which he said: “The news of the upcoming release of the McCarrick report is painful, but necessary. The victims of abuse, the Church and its members, along with the rest of society and future generations, all suffer from clergy sexual abuse, misconduct and scandals. Not bringing these crimes into the light only deepens the wound and does not allow the Church a process of exposing the wrongdoing and sin.”
This report should fill Catholics and all people with feelings of outrage, anger, shock, disbelief, sorrow, and so many other emotions. As your Pastors and lay pastoral staff, perhaps the only thing we could say is that we are right there with you. We are shocked and horrified by the terrible evil that occurred at the hands of McCarrick and so many other abusers. We are scandalized by the cover-up that has happened by church leadership with clergy sexual abuse and by the failure to speak out earlier against McCarrick. Our hearts are broken at the terrible pain experienced by anyone who has been sexually abused, especially by a cleric or anyone else in the church. Earlier this year, we learned also of the allegations of abuse brought against the well-known musician David Haas. For some time in our parishes we have made the decision to stop using his music. Please see our parish letter (click here) formally explaining this decision. We are praying for all survivors of abuse and their families, and that justice may be brought to their perpetrators. We are weeping along with Jesus for our beloved church and the deep pain that is being felt right now by so many.
Know that we as your Pastors and lay pastoral staff will continue to follow this closely. We are committed to prayerfully discerning next steps as our family of parishes will have a great need to grieve and process everything contained in the “McCarrick Report.” Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have suggestions on how to best do this or if we can be a listening ear in any way. We renew our commitment to utmost vigilance in our parishes and school to providing a safe environment free of any kind of abuse, especially towards minors and the most vulnerable. Once again, know of our anger, shock, and grief as we weep with Jesus this week over our beloved church.
Fr. Tim, Fr. John, & the Lay Pastoral Staff of the Family of Four Parishes