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A reader’s guide to McCarrick report: Beware of bad guys, smoking guns

Editor’s note: This piece was published before the release of the report on Tuesday morning. We recommend reading it before tackling the full report.

It’s taken far too long to get here, with agonizing delays, chaos, confusion, and reversals of fortune along the way, not to mention accusations of fraud and cover-up. Even now that we have a final result, heated arguments over its meaning and legitimacy probably are only beginning.

That’s not a summary of the 2020 US election, though it easily could be. The reference instead is to the Vatican’s release today of its long-awaited report on ex-cardinal and ex-priest Theodore McCarrick, promised more than two years ago and finally at hand.

The report is scheduled to be released at 2:00 p.m. Rome time, meaning 8:00 a.m. on the East Coast of the United States. It’s said to run to several hundred pages, though exactly how many will depend on the font size and pagination the Vatican chooses to employ.

The formal title is, “Report on the Holy See’s institutional knowledge and decision-making process related to formal Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (from 1930 to 2017).” The span runs from McCarrick’s birth to shortly before charges of sexual abuse and misconduct against McCarrick became public, presumably because by that point the question of what the Vatican knew, and when it knew it, became moot.

Like no other chapter of the clerical sexual abuse scandals, the McCarrick crisis shifted the focus of public attention from the crime to the cover-up.

Most American Catholics were no longer shocked to learn that a cleric had engaged in such behavior, even at McCarrick’s level. The real question was how he’d been able to remain at the pinnacle of power for decades, despite the fact that rumors of suspicious conduct circulated as early as the 1990s.

We’ll know whether the report satisfies that demand for transparency and accountability only after it’s out. In the meantime, here are four cautions by way of calibrating expectations:

Read more at Crux

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