The news that Theodore McCarrick recently moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living has fueled speculation that a report from the Vatican’s internal investigation on McCarrick will soon be released.
But while the report may be completed in Rome, its release may not be imminent, and some U.S. bishops may be quietly hoping for further delays.
The report is the fruit of an internal Vatican investigation into the career of McCarrick, who was a cardinal and the archbishop of two major American sees before he was found canonically guilty of serial sexual abuse and laicized.
In October 2018, just months after sexual abuse allegations against McCarrick first emerged, the Vatican said that Pope Francis had commissioned a study of the Vatican archival files on McCarrick, “in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively.”
Since the study was announced, American Catholics have called for the release of its findings. In recent months, the report’s release has become highly anticipated.
In November, Cardinal Sean O’Malley told the U.S. bishops’ conference that the Vatican intended to publish the report
O’Malley said that he had seen a “hefty document,” which was being translated into Italian for the benefit of Pope Francis, before its imminent release.
“The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people, and indeed a harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence,” O’Malley acknowledged.
In December, Bishop Earl Boyea said he had told been told by the pope that the report would be issued “probably after the beginning of the new year.”
And McCarrick’s January move to an undisclosed priests’ residence was apparently motivated, at least in part, by a desire to avoid media attention when the report is released. That move has led to speculation that the report could be released at any time.
But some U.S. bishops may not be eager for the report to be released.
Some, of course, might be concerned about their own connections to McCarrick. But the saga of Fulton Sheen’s beatification suggests that some bishops might have other reasons to consider asking for the McCarrick report to be postponed.
Last month, the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois announced that the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, which had been set for Dec. 22, had been indefinitely delayed.
CNA soon reported that the delay was caused by an intervention from Rochester’s Bishop Salvatore Matano, who asked the apostolic nuncio in the U.S. to postpone the ceremony. Sources close to the Rochester diocese told CNA that among Matano’s concerns was the possibility of lawsuits against Sheen, who was Rochester’s bishop from 1966 to 1969.
New York is in the midst of a “window” that allows lawsuits related to sexual abuse that fall beyond the normal statute of limitations. That window closes in August.
New Jersey is also in a statute of limitations window, which began in December and ends in 2021. McCarrick served as a bishop in both New York and New Jersey, during the period in which he committed acts of sexual abuse and coercion….
The above comes from a Jan. 8 analysis by J.D. Flynn on the Catholic News Agency website.