During the time of Pope John Paul II, he promoted United States clergyman, Theodore MaCarrick, to cardinal, regardless of the advice he received from the Vatican against it. This was due to the rumors of McCarrick’s sexual misconduct. Rumors that turned out to be true.
A 450-page documents, acquired over a 2-year investigation, has evidence that McCarrick sexually abused a 10-year-old boy and several seminarians.
When this evidence came to light, McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington DC, was stripped of his cardinal’s title in 2018 and his priest’s status in 2019, becoming the highest-ranking Church figure to be expelled in modern times.
He was found guilty by the Vatican of abusing the teenager in the 1970s as well as years of misconduct, sexual and otherwise, such as inviting seminarians to his beach house where he made them share his bed.
The Vatican report cited interviews of victims describing “sexual abuse or assault, unwanted sexual activity, intimate physical contact”.
The documents also detailed the abuse of authority and power by McCarrick.
People poured concerns. Although, details of his sexual misconduct didn’t come to light until the late 2000s, he was promoted in 2001 amidst rumors of his numerous misconducts.
The report said John Paul II personally decided to appoint McCarrick, despite a letter from the then archbishop of New York summarising allegations including sexual conduct with another priest and sharing a bed with young men.
The report offered reasons to why Pope John Paul II took that decision; the fact that the only individual claiming misconduct at the time was viewed as unreliable because he had previously abused two teenage boys; also, three US bishops asked about the allegations “provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the Holy See”.
The pope also saw a letter written by McCarrick in 2000 that was insisting he had “never had sexual relations with any person, male or female, young or old, cleric or lay, nor have I ever abused another person”.
The report further cites McCarrick’s personal friendship with John Paul II, which “likely had an impact on the pope’s decision-making”.
The report says the next pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, also failed to act on the rumours, swayed in part by McCarrick swearing on his “oath as a bishop” that they were false. But the Vatican asked him to “maintain a lower profile”.
His successor Pope Francis is largely absolved in the report, because he “did not see the need to alter the approach” of his predecessors. Pope Francis immediately axed McCarrick as soon as the evidence came to light.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was studying the findings and offered its “profound sorrow and deepest apologies” to all McCarrick’s victims.