Nov 11, 2020 - World

Pope Francis responds to Vatican’s report about disgraced former cardinal

Pope Francis gives a speech at Malmo Arena. Photo: Michael Campanella/Getty Images
Pope Francis gives a speech at Malmo Arena. Photo: Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Wednesday vowed to rid the Catholic Church of sexual abuse, just one day after a detailed report emerged exposing how a former cardinal rose through the Roman Catholic hierarchy despite a string of misconduct allegations.

What he's saying: “I renew my closeness to victims of any abuse and commitment of the church to eradicate this evil,” Francis said Wednesday, per AP, offering his prayers to victims.

Driving the news: The explosive Vatican report, commissioned by Francis, found that Pope John Paul II ignored decades of allegations and warnings about sexual abuse by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. “McCarrick’s direct relationship with John Paul II also likely had an impact on the Pope’s decision making,” the report stated.

  • Pope Francis heard rumors of McCarrick's misconduct, but until 2017, the pope had no documentation of the allegations, per the report. “What is now known is that three of the four American bishops provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the Holy See regarding McCarrick’s sexual conduct with young adults,” the report concludes.
  • It further notes that McCarrick appealed to John Paul II’s trusted secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, insisting he was blameless.
  • “McCarrick’s denial was believed,” the report says, and the allegations subsequently dismissed.
  • The abuse was made public in 2018, and critics accused Pope Francis of a cover-up. A year later McCarrick became the highest-ranking American official to be removed for sexual abuse when the Pope Francis ousted him from priesthood.
  • The report "largely absolved the current pope," the New York Times writes.

The impact: "The report will have wide implications for a global church that has been roiled for decades over its mishandling of sexual abuse by clergy," per the Times, adding, "The church now has to reckon with the fact that one of its most beloved pontiffs is implicated is one of its most notorious scandals."

Go deeper