And investigations into several bishops accused of malfeasance have begun.
One ended with the resignation of a diocesan bishop. One ended with the resignation of an auxiliary bishop who failed to disclose allegations of priestly sexual misconduct, although, in fairness, that auxiliary bishop remains a priest in good standing.
Other investigations continue. The investigation of a Minnesota bishop began, and was eventually concluded by the Holy See with a call for more investigation, which, as of now, remains ongoing.
In some dioceses, laity have been given a greater role in assisting bishops to address allegations of clerical misconduct with adults. That comes with mixed reviews.
While in some dioceses, it is clear that lay expertise has proven a helpful tool, in other dioceses, priests and some Catholics conclude the pendulum has swung too far, and the rights of due process and a fair hearing have been jettisoned in the name of “transparency” by bishops hoping to prove they take seriously what McCarrick’s superiors apparently did not.
In some places, priests have told CNA, that amounts to lay boards with near absolute power over how a priest accused of misconduct will be treated, regardless of his rights in canon law.
Some priests tell CNA that because bishops “messed up,” their priests pay the price. One priest, who says he was denounced as an abuser even while he was cleared of wrongdoing, has sued his archdiocese, and his archbishop, for more than 2 million dollars.
One priest told CNA that bishops who failed in the past to punish abusers made the mistake of substituting their judgment for the law of the Church; bishops who now fail to afford due process to the accused, he said, make the same mistake.
On the other hand, one change regarded almost universally as positive is that in the two years since the McCarrick investigation began, the voices of victims have begun to be heard more clearly. Groups like Spirit Fire, and Catholics like Teresa Pitt Green and Luis Torres have helped the entire Church to understand how profoundly destructive clerical sexual abuse can be.
Still, the report remains unpublished.
Theories about its absence abound. Some have speculated, morbidly, that the Holy See is waiting for the deaths of senior Vatican and U.S. figures at whose feet blame can be laid. Others suggest, cynically, that the Holy See may be waiting until litigation windows close, or even until the conclusion of capital campaigns. Still others theorize that the investigations of attorneys general in New York and New Jersey has slowed the release of the report.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Any of those might be true, or the reason might be something completely different. Pope Francis has often indicated that he will not be rushed on matters of this kind, and in some cases, though not all, his deliberative pace has led to positive resolutions.
When it comes, the report will probably not be easy reading for most Catholics. It will likely contain genuine scandal. It may well plunge Catholics back into the frustration, despair, and anger they experienced in June 2018, when news of McCarrick first emerged.
But until it comes, it is for many Catholics a kind of scandal in abeyance, an ominous absence they do not understand.
It is clear that the publication of the McCarrick report will not be a deus ex machina moment that sets to right all problems in the Church. It is as likely to cause new problems as to solve old ones. But after two years of waiting for the Vatican’s report, many Catholics are eager to move forward, regardless of what the report might contain.