Skip links

Clearing the Air Regarding St. John Paul II and Theodore McCarrick

A month after the release of the McCarrick Report, some of the dust has settled, and it is possible to better digest the mass of information published. It is possible, then, to turn more soberly to the question of the impact of the McCarrick Report on the sainted memory of Pope John Paul II.

In the days immediately following the report’s release, there were voices who eagerly put the blame on John Paul, claiming that report proved that he was aware of McCarrick’s misconduct and promoted him anyway. Many who were detractors of St. John Paul II in life characterized the report as tainting his memory. 

One report from a customarily hostile publication put it this way: “Vatican’s explosive McCarrick report largely places blame on John Paul II.”

Defenders claimed that John Paul was deceived and thus is not culpable of the mistaken promotion. Papal biographer George Weigel argued that John Paul was deceived, that there was “massive system failure,” and that a report about McCarrick should not be manipulated to become “an assault on John Paul.”

The question of deception does not resolve the matter entirely, however. It still leaves questions about what John Paul did know, what he did with that knowledge, and why he may have done it. The report, beyond the headlines and the summary, helps to explain that, if carefully read.

Just last week, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, criticized the “attacks” on John Paul, arguing that the late Holy Father’s record on sexual abuse was pioneering and creditworthy, as he “initiated the process of detecting sexual crimes and punishing clergymen who perpetrate them.”

Archbishop Gądecki cited the apostolic constitution Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, which was promulgated by John Paul in April 2001. To this day it remains the centerpiece of the Vatican response to sexual-abuse cases, requiring that every credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor be reported to Rome. It is noteworthy that John Paul took that key initiative some nine months before the Boston scandals broke. 

Nevertheless, effective action in general does not address McCarrick in particular. The report offers the reverse approach, looking only at the McCarrick case in particular and refraining from general conclusions.

Read more at National Catholic Register

Share with Friends: