Bombshell Letter Attacking Pope Francis Over McCarrick Also Questions Cardinal O’Malley

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/08/27/bombshell-letter-attacking-pope-francis-over-mccarrick-also-questions-cardinal-omalley/

A bombshell letter calling out Pope Francis for his chummy association with a cardinal known to have sexually abused seminarians also questions Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s denial that he knew anything about the now-disgraced churchman’s past.

“Regarding Cardinal Sean O’Malley, I would simply say that his latest statements on the McCarrick case are disconcerting, and have totally obscured his transparency and credibility,” Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former papal nuncio to the United States, wrote in a letter published Saturday night. Vigano called on Pope Francis and many other high-ranking bishops to resign.

O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, had not commented publicly on Vigano’s letter as of late Monday morning. A spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Theodore McCarrick, now 88, the former archbishop of Washington, resigned as a cardinal July 28, 38 days after the Archdiocese of New York announced that an investigation found “credible and substantiated” evidence that McCarrick sexually abused a 16-year-old altar boy in the early 1970s when he was a priest in New York City. Former seminarians in two New Jersey dioceses where McCarrick served as bishop during the 1980s and 1990s have also accused him of sexual abuse, and subsequent bishops there quietly settled lawsuits with some of the accusers several years ago.

Vigano, 77, who served as a high-ranking Vatican diplomat under both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, claims in the 11-page letter that former Pope Benedict privately imposed sanctions on McCarrick about eight or nine years ago (after McCarrick’s retirement as archbishop of Washington) but that Pope Francis subsequently lifted the sanctions and made McCarrick a key adviser even though he knew about McCarrick’s past abuse of seminarians.

Pope Francis refused to respond to the major allegations of Vigano’s letter when asked by reporters about it while flying back to Rome from Ireland on Sunday night.

O’Malley, who has served as archbishop of Boston since 2003, isn’t a primary target of the letter, which accuses 21 high-ranking bishops in the Vatican and the United States of either covering up sexual abuse by McCarrick, going along with the cover-up, furthering what he calls a “homosexual current,” or lying about what they knew about McCarrick before his deeds became public earlier this summer.

But the letter challenges O’Malley’s statement August 20 saying that he was unaware of McCarrick’s past behavior until recently.

Here’s what O’Malley said seven days ago in a written statement, reported on by New Boston Post:

“Allegations regarding Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual crimes were unknown to me until recent media reports. I understand not everyone will accept this answer given the way the Church has eroded the trust of our people. My hope is that we can repair the trust and faith of all Catholics and the wider community by virtue of our actions and accountability in how we respond to this crisis.”

At the time, O’Malley was primarily responding to questions about why he didn’t follow up on a letter sent him in June 2015 by a priest in New York detailing McCarrick’s troubling behavior with seminarians. O’Malley responded by saying that his secretary never showed O’Malley the letter, and instead on his own authority wrote the priest a letter stating that the allegations against McCarrick didn’t fall within the purview of a Vatican commission that O’Malley serves on that is designed to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy.

Louis L. Murray, president of the board of Boston Catholic Radio, on Monday published a column in The Boston Herald calling on O’Malley to resign as archbishop of Boston in light of Vigano’s letter. He also called on Pope Francis to resign.

O’Malley, 74, is theoretically in his last year as archbishop of Boston. On June 29, 2019 he turns 75, the age under canon law when bishops are supposed to submit their resignations to the pope. But the pope often keeps on trusted bishops in key positions indefinitely after the official retirement age.

Vignano’s letter was first reported in the United States on Saturday by the National Catholic Register.

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The full text of Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s statement of Monday, August 20, 2018 follows, taken from the Archdiocese of Boston’s web site:

In June of 2015 Rev. Boniface Ramsey sent a letter that was received at my office at the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center. Rev. Robert Kickham, my Priest Secretary, received the letter on my behalf, as he does much of the correspondence that comes to my office at the Pastoral Center. Fr. Ramsey’s letter came to me in my role as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; specifically the letter presented matters concerning Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior with seminarians. Fr. Kickham’s response to Fr. Ramsey noted that individual cases such as he proposed for review fell outside the mandate of the Commission. Consequently, he did not bring the letter to my attention. In retrospect it is now clear to Fr. Kickham and to me that I should have seen that letter precisely because it made assertions about the behavior of an Archbishop in the Church. I take responsibility for the procedures followed in my office and I also am prepared to modify those procedures in light of this experience.  

My first knowledge of Fr. Ramsey’s letter occurred when media reports of the letter were published last month. I apologize to Fr. Ramsey for not having responded to him in an appropriate way and appreciate the effort that he undertook in seeking to bring his concerns about Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior to my attention. I also apologize to anyone whose concerns were reflected in Fr. Ramsey’s letter. 

Allegations regarding Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual crimes were unknown to me until the recent media reports. I understand not everyone will accept this answer given the way the Church has eroded the trust of our people. My hope is that we can repair the trust and faith of all Catholics and the wider community by virtue of our actions and accountability in how we respond to this crisis.

What makes all this so difficult to understand is that it has been my experience that when a priest is being vetted to be named a bishop, any doubt or question concerning his faithfulness to his promise of celibacy would result in removing his name from consideration to be named Bishop. The Bishops Conference is anxious to understand how Theodore McCarrick could have been named Bishop, Archbishop and Cardinal. We must be certain that this never happens again. That is why the Bishops Conference are requesting an investigation by the Holy See with the participation of lay people.

Let me close with the words of Pope Francis who yesterday wrote: “Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sins helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”

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