Founding members of Catholic review board offer assistance in McCarrick investigation

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington faces the press in the shadow of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 24, 2002. U.S cardinals met for a summit with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican April 23-24, 2002, as the sex abuse crisis unfolded in the United States. Cardinal McCarrick was a key spokesman for the bishops during the summit. (CNS photo/Paolo Cocco, Reuters)

The former interim chair of a board of high-power lay Catholics appointed by U.S. bishops at the height of the sexual abuse scandal in the early 2000s says members want to investigate how former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick rose through the ecclesial ranks despite a history of sexual misconduct. They also seek to close a loophole in church policy that critics say fails to hold bishops accountable when it comes to sexual abuse allegations.

In a letter sent on Friday to Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke wrote that the original board is “deeply disturbed and saddened by the recent reports that sexual abuse by the clergy and its alleged cover-up has reached into the hierarchy of the church.”

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The letter was first reported on Tuesday by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Judge Burke wrote that she consulted with the members of the original board, which included figures from law enforcement, politics, law and higher education, and said they wish to be of help in assisting “the church in dealing with the very serious crisis that it is currently facing.”

A new board should investigate the church’s mishandling of abuse allegations that pre-date the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the “flaw in the Charter which has always exempted the bishops from the process.”

“We believe that an ‘Independent Inquiry board’ comprised entirely of lay people should be convened,” she wrote.

Michael J. Bland, a Chicago-based therapist who was a member of the original review board, confirmed that Judge Burke reached out to the other members by phone and email before sending the letter to Cardinal DiNardo.

Last week, the current iteration of National Review Board released a statement calling for an investigation led by lay people into allegations that bishops and other church leaders mishandled abuse claims.

“The National Review Board has for several years expressed its concern that bishops not become complacent in their response to sexual abuse by the clergy,” the statement said. “ It is time for the laity to assume courageous leadership to help the Church respond and to heal and for the bishops to listen carefully to our recommendations.”

The original lay review board released a 158-page report in 2004 that detailed the church’s mishandling of sexual abuse claims, studied the causes of the crisis and made recommendations about creating safe environments for children. In her letter, Judge Burke said that the original board’s efforts “have been very effective in accomplishing our goals to protect children and young people,” but said more work needs to be done, particularly when it comes to holding bishops accountable.

“We were never given the power to investigate the bishops,” Judge Burke told the Sun-Times.

A new board, Judge Burke wrote, should investigate the church’s mishandling of abuse allegations that pre-date the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the “flaw in the Charter which has always exempted the bishops from the process,” and an investigation into Archbishop McCarrick’s case.

In June, Pope Francis removed from public ministry then-Cardinal McCarrick because of a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse against a minor that is alleged to have occurred several decades ago. The cardinal resigned from the College of Cardinals in July after allegations of sexual misconduct involving priests and seminarians were made public.

Last month, a grand jury report chronicling decades of sexual abuse of children by priests and an alleged cover-up by church leaders in six Pennsylvania dioceses was released, prompting protests and calls for resignations. The release of that report was followed by claims made by a former papal nuncio to the United States that U.S. and Vatican officials, including Pope Francis, knew about the sexual misconduct charges against then-Cardinal McCarrick but chose not to act.

Cardinal DiNardo has requested an audience with Pope Francis to discuss an investigation into Archbishop McCarrick and sexual abuse more broadly.

She asked that Cardinal DiNardo recommend that the board work directly with the Vatican, using Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, as its liaison.

In her letter to Cardinal DiNardo, Judge Burke wrote, “In order to restore confidence in the Church and the hierarchy, we strongly recommend that you request the Holy See to appoint the members of our Board to investigate and report to the Holy See on the allegations in this evolving crisis and to make recommendations to the Bishops Conference.”

She asked that Cardinal DiNardo recommend that the board work directly with the Vatican, using Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, as its liaison. Archbishop Scicluna carried out an investigation into the mishandling of abuse allegations in Chile, which led to a mass resignation of bishops in that country.

Last month, Judge Burke said she believes law enforcement officials in every U.S. state should lead investigations into how the Catholic Church handled allegations of sexual abuse similar to the investigation in Pennsylvania.

U.S. bishops maintain a National Review Board, whose purpose is “to advise the U.S.C.C.B. in preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church,” according to its webpage.

In addition to Judge Burke, other members of the original board include the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, Nicholas P. Cafardi, former dean and professor of law at Duquesne University, Petra Jimenez Maes, a justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court and Washington, D.C.-based attorney Robert S. Bennett.

The original board was not without controversy. The chair of the group, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, resigned in 2003 after citing the unwillingness of bishops to cooperate with the group’s investigation, a charge that other board members denied at the time.

“We offer the church our help, knowledge, wisdom, credibility and experience in this time of great need,” Judge Burke wrote.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Michael Barberi
1 year 3 months ago

It is clear that a lay lead national review board or committee thoroughly investigate the accusations and evidence of sexual abuse and coverup, as well as actions and inactions that are either immoral or potentially highly negligent. This includes priest, bishops, cardinals and popes involved.

I agree with the suggestions in this article. I hope answers to all legitimate questions are honest, transparent and accurate. IMO, the following questions should not be overlooked:

1. Why did Pope JP II promote McCarrick to Cardinal when bishops and cardinals knew of his sexual abuse accusations concerning seminarians. These accusations were known for a long time. Did JP iI not know of these sexually abusive accusations? Did Pope JP II's Cardinal advisors withhold this information from him or minimized these accusations? Did Pope JP II believe that sexually abusing adults were less morally corrupt than sexually abusing minors (as the 'minor' issue was not fully known or vetted at that time)? Even if Pope JP II thought so (and I don't believe he did) what moral justification could there be for promoting McCarrick to Cardinal in light of this highly immoral behavior? Why did JP II not demote McCarrick instead of promoting him?

2. Why did Pope Benedict XVI choose to "privately" sanction McCarrick? Why did Benedict XVI do nothing when McCarrick refused to abide by these sanctions?

3. What did Pope Francis know about McCarrick's sexual abuse accusations, especially Benedict XVI's sanctions, and when did he know it? Did Pope Francis assume that such sanctions were not imposed by Benedict XVI or that Benedict XVI may have lifted them himself....since it was well known that McCarrick never abided by sanctions? If Pope Francis knew about McCarrick's sexually abusive accusations with seminarians, why did he not act when he knew this?

Let's hope Pope Francis and the USCCB will get to the bottom of this systemic sexual abuse scandal. In the meantime, we all should avoid a rush to judgment, but at the same time we should not sugar coat what appears to be highly troubling and sickening accusations. We should all pray for Pope Francis, the victims and the reform that our Church needs.

J Rabaza
1 year 3 months ago

Starting with Pope John Paul is an OK place to begin but clericalism goes back many many centuries if not millenia. Priests and bishops and popes have been dishonoring their vows for as long on a host of levels.

I see the whole thing as disingenuous. Some wont be happy until Pope Francis is overthrown which will never happen. Others want a very narrow scope of inquiry, i.e. McCarrick only. I say investigate all individuals from Pope to including the accusers: Charles Chaput, Raymond Burke, the DUI archbishop in San Francisco (disgrace of a cleric) and throw in EWTN, Pentin, Tobin, Wuerl, everyone. They have all got skeletons in their closet and they are all sinners. If only one man is standing, then so be it. Then everyone will have their sins exposed and the pointing will stop, the demanding of heads will cease and the people only then will not throw stones.

Rebuild my church. Now is a good time as any

Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago

Guillermo - This committee is not to replace the confessional or the Gospel. It is not to root out sin, which will always be with us, as you demonstrate so thoroughly with your accusations. It is to root out 1) crimes of sexual abuse and keep them out, more recently in the seminaries; 2) to ensure clergy who are failing in their vows to celibacy are not enabled and promoted, and 3) to make sure bishops (up to the pope, as you say) have procedures to police their brethren in this regard. The worst is the claim that some bishops actually promoted some of the worst offenders (like McCarrick), or their supporters, precisely because they were offenders and compromised. This is the demonic angle - loving sin for its own sake.

Michael Barberi
1 year 3 months ago

Guillermo,

I wanted to start with these questions about the past 3 popes because the worse thing we can do is lose sight of the fact that this scandal rises to the level of the papacy. The accusations, implied directly or indirectly, about 3 popes are significant. They must be investigated.

I do agree that all accusations and evidence involving priests, bishops and cardinals also need to be thoroughly investigated because the sexual abuse scandal points to moral corruption at all levels and one of the root causes appear to be a culture of clericalism.

This scandal is about the abuse of power, gross negligence, moral corruption, irresponsible and immoral actions and inactions and crimes. The hierarchy (e.g., bishops, cardinals, popes) put the reputation of their dioceses and the Church itself above justice for the victims of sexual abuse. The Grand Jury Report, the McCarrick scandal and the Vigano letter all point to sexual abuse, the cover up of immoral behavior, the minimization of evidence of sexual abuse, and the turning of a blind eye to the truth while justice was obfuscated. It seems that priests, bishops and cardinals and 3 popes participated, in various degrees, in this scandal.

While we should not rush to judgment we should not sugar coat things. There may be good reasons and evidence that has not been disclosed, so we need to be patience and wait until a thorough investigation by a lay lead committee is finalized. Let's pray that all goes well and appropriate reforms are recommended and instituted and those found guilty of gross negligence, crimes or immorally violating the responsibilities of their priestly and ecclesial duties are brought to justice.

J Rabaza
1 year 3 months ago

It appears Charles Chaput indeed has skeletons in hir closet. No surprise here. Something about living in glass houses. Investigate Chaput THOROUGHLY.

##
“Chaput defends posting bail for Lynn”
“PHILADELPHIA Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput on Friday defended his decision to post bail for Msgr. William J. Lynn, saying it was reasonable and just for the archdiocese to help him.

"Msgr. Lynn presents no danger to anyone. He poses no flight risk," Chaput said in a letter to parishioners that was released by the archdiocese.

"The funding for his bail has been taken from no parish, school or ministry resources, impacts no ongoing work of the church, and will be returned when the terms of bail are completed.“
“Chaput's action sends the worst possible message to current and former Catholic employees: No matter how recklessly, callously, and deceitfully you [endanger] kids and protect predators, the Catholic hierarchy will help you," Barbara Dorris of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said this week.”
https://web.archive.org/web/20150507041309/http://articles.philly.com/2014-01-05/news/45862133_1_archdiocesan-secretary-lynn-chaput

Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago

Guillermo - such libelous innuendo. Back in 2011, a Grand Jury accused 26 priests of being accused. Archbishop Chaput suspended them all to administrative leave until a full criminal and church investigation was done. I wish all would be so swift. 11 were later proven innocent and returned to priestly activity. it seems you would have imprisoned them all. http://archphila.org/HHHIC/hhhic.php

Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago

Finally, Pope Francis gets his wish of having the laity lead (quote below). Excellent group of individuals, and I fully support their investigation. The bishops might want to add one or two more individuals but the lay membership is best for all concerned. Glad they want to work with Archbishop Scicluna. I note they want to focus on 3 items. I would reverse the order because of urgency but am good with all 3. The Church needs something similar for the ex-US.
1. Cases of sexual abuse that pre-date the Dallas Charter.
2. The exemption of the bishops from the Dallas Charter process.
3. Question regarding Ted McCarrick's rise up the hierarchy.

In 2016, he said: “Watching the People of God is to remember that we all entered the Church as laity.” “It’s never the shepherd who tells the laity what they have to do or say [in public life], they know it as well or even better than us,” The crux article say: "Pope Francis on Tuesday called Catholic priests in Latin America to remember they serve the laity, and not the other way around, describing clericalism as one of the strongest challenges that the Church faces." I think this McCarrick and VIgano affair will help fix the clericalism. So, maybe this is good for the Church. https://cruxnow.com/church/2016/04/27/pope-blasts-clericalism-says-cloc…

JR Cosgrove
1 year 3 months ago

There was a report sent to every bishop in the US in 1985 about abuse of young men by priests and recruitment practices. McCarrick Was one of those bishops. It was uniformly ignored. It is thought it was on orders from Rome. The report was based on a public trial in Louisiana but there was evidence from several other dioceses.

JR Cosgrove
1 year 3 months ago

Here is a link to a discussion about this study and how it originated.

https://www.theadvocate.com/gambit/new_orleans/news/article_8e9b6359-b2a8-5579-a9fe-d8cab16f3f91.html

Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago

Pope Francis, in his Aug 20 letter on this sex abuse, said something amazing, quoting Jesus responding to the Apostles inability to exorcise a demon from a boy: “But this kind [of demon] does not come out except by prayer and fasting” (Mt 17:21). Well, the successors of the Apostles have found themselves unable to do the same thing. That is why Pope Francis asks all Catholics to communally pray and fast. He thinks it the only way to get rid of this particular "filth" in the Church.

Ref. Section 2 & scriptural footnote in http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2018/08/20/0578/01246.html#ingl
Jonathan Heaps elaborates on this theme http://churchlife.nd.edu/2018/09/03/what-did-pope-francis-mean-to-say-with-his-strange-abuse-crisis-letter/

John Chuchman
1 year 3 months ago

Roman Catholic Church Canon law
divides humanity into lay people and clerics (Canon 207),
setting clerics above laity (Canon 223, 247 and others)
actually demanding that lay people revere and obey their pastor
because pastors are the best representation of Christ for lay people (Canon 212).

As a side note,
Canon Law decrees clerical institutions such as seminaries
to be ecclesiastical juridical people (Canon 238).
Yes, yes, seminaries are people too according to Canon Law.
As ecclesiastical people,
they not only are people
but more powerful people than ones of non-clergy flesh and blood variety.

This is all problematic in itself
but then, the hierarchy do two additional insidious things:
1) They say you must receive Jesus via Holy Communion and
2) incarcerate Jesus in the tabernacle and declare
only they can summon Jesus to dwell amongst us in the form of the Blessed Sacrament. In simpler terms they in essence say,
you need what I got, or you die and I’m the only provider.
A drug cartel could not wish for a better setup.

But wait, it gets more insidious.
Roman Catholic Church Canon Law
includes 12 Canons which codify obligations to maintain secrecy
(Canons 127, 269, 471, 645, 983, 1131, 1132, 1455, 1457, 1546, 1548 and 1602).
Canon Law reflects the hierarchy’s normalization
of its stunningly unhealthy culture of secrecy and court intrigue.
Transfer a priest from diocese to diocese in secrecy? Canon Law says that’s ok.
Hold in secret things that the brotherhood doesn’t want to divulge?
Canon Law approves of that too.

As Roman Catholic Church Canon Law stands today
a priest molests a child but the child is taught
that this guy is the closest thing to Jesus
the child is going to encounter on Earth
and he’s the guy who will give the child the Eucharist,
without which the child will be damned forever.
If the priest is reported,
the hierarchy can deal with him and his trial in secrecy
and transfer him in secrecy.
Meanwhile, the parents and kid have to worry if they report the guy,
will they be shunned or excommunicated,
cutting themselves off
from what they are taught is their only chance at eternal life.

Canon Law lacks checks and balances on power
and depends instead upon a belief that men of superior moral ilk
occupy positions of ecclesiastical power.
I think 2000+ years of history prove that assumption breathtakingly wrong.

The same men who write into law what gives them absolute power
will not voluntarily change those laws.
Withholding money and subjecting them to legal recourse will have some effect,
but people just need to both openly challenge the hierarchy
and make the hierarchy irrelevant in their lives.

John Chuchman
1 year 3 months ago

Roman Catholic Church Canon law
divides humanity into lay people and clerics (Canon 207),
setting clerics above laity (Canon 223, 247 and others)
actually demanding that lay people revere and obey their pastor
because pastors are the best representation of Christ for lay people (Canon 212).

As a side note,
Canon Law decrees clerical institutions such as seminaries
to be ecclesiastical juridical people (Canon 238).
Yes, yes, seminaries are people too according to Canon Law.
As ecclesiastical people,
they not only are people
but more powerful people than ones of non-clergy flesh and blood variety.

This is all problematic in itself
but then, the hierarchy do two additional insidious things:
1) They say you must receive Jesus via Holy Communion and
2) incarcerate Jesus in the tabernacle and declare
only they can summon Jesus to dwell amongst us in the form of the Blessed Sacrament. In simpler terms they in essence say,
you need what I got, or you die and I’m the only provider.
A drug cartel could not wish for a better setup.

But wait, it gets more insidious.
Roman Catholic Church Canon Law
includes 12 Canons which codify obligations to maintain secrecy
(Canons 127, 269, 471, 645, 983, 1131, 1132, 1455, 1457, 1546, 1548 and 1602).
Canon Law reflects the hierarchy’s normalization
of its stunningly unhealthy culture of secrecy and court intrigue.
Transfer a priest from diocese to diocese in secrecy? Canon Law says that’s ok.
Hold in secret things that the brotherhood doesn’t want to divulge?
Canon Law approves of that too.

As Roman Catholic Church Canon Law stands today
a priest molests a child but the child is taught
that this guy is the closest thing to Jesus
the child is going to encounter on Earth
and he’s the guy who will give the child the Eucharist,
without which the child will be damned forever.
If the priest is reported,
the hierarchy can deal with him and his trial in secrecy
and transfer him in secrecy.
Meanwhile, the parents and kid have to worry if they report the guy,
will they be shunned or excommunicated,
cutting themselves off
from what they are taught is their only chance at eternal life.

Canon Law lacks checks and balances on power
and depends instead upon a belief that men of superior moral ilk
occupy positions of ecclesiastical power.
I think 2000+ years of history prove that assumption breathtakingly wrong.

The same men who write into law what gives them absolute power
will not voluntarily change those laws.
Withholding money and subjecting them to legal recourse will have some effect,
but people just need to both openly challenge the hierarchy
and make the hierarchy irrelevant in their lives.

Tim Donovan
1 year 3 months ago

I'm a very imperfect Catholic who's gay. As a youth (years before I revealed my sexual orientation) I was fairly frequently taunted by my peers by a painful, offensive term. They correctly assumed that I was gay. Years ago, I had sex with men. However, I regretted my acts, and received forgiven from a compassionate priest through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Because I still struggle with various sins (including among others impatience, the temptation to view gay pornography, and more) I do go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation each month, usually with my mind and understanding pastor. Afterwards, I feel worthy to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. I do still have a friend who's gay, although because neither one of us drives and I 'm retired and am fortunate to live in a quality nursing home (I'm 56) , we only are able to talk on the telephone.I know this is a minority opinion in our nation and even (unfortunately in my view) among Catholics, I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. By the way, the fact that like many gay people who were taunted by slursI felt emotional pain, in no way do I compare my past emotional pain to the emotional and physical trauma experienced by victims of sexual abuse. I have great sympathy for the people (primarily males, according to the John Jay study ) who have suffered trauma from sexual abuse by priests. Tragically, a priest who was my senior year high school theology teacher got a minor boy intoxicated and raped him. Surely, a particularly shocking sin and crime. Fortunately, the priest was prosecuted, found guilty, and imprisoned. I agree that all priests, and especially bishops and cardinals (because the latter two hold positions of authority in our Church) who sexually abuse minors should be prosecuted, imprisoned, as well as relieved of their positions of authority. I do believe as the editors of America have suggested that all priests, bishops and cardinals should have a day of prayer and fasting for the intention of the consolation of the victims. However, I do believe that the great majority of clergy are good, holy men dedicated to serving God and humanity.
I'm a post-Vatican II Catholic, and was a teenager in the mid-1970's. I received a good education during Catholic elementary and secondary school, and although there were a fair number of religious sisters in elementary school, the majority of teachers were laypeople, and the number of nuns gradually declined even during my right years of school. In high school, the Marianist priests and religious brothers were a small minority of the teachers. I also graduated with a degree in Education from a Catholic college. Long story short, although I had great respect for the priests and sisters with whom I came in contact (Sister Mary Amelia, my fifth grade teacher, was a great part of my decision to become a Special Education teacher) I didn't believe that priests were without faults, or that they were second only to God. However, I do believe that a priest acts in the person of Christ when he consecrated the bread and wine into the true Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. Again, I have tremendous sympathy for victims of sexual abuse, and realize that some priests have committed monstrous crimes/mortal sins. They should be imprisoned. Also, although money isn't a panacea, I believe that the Church should provide financial compensation to all victims. Also, as suggested by the editors of America, the Prayer of the Faithful at all Masses should include prayers for the consolation of the victims of sexual abuse. We should in my view also pray in gratitude for good priests.Finally (and I appreciate the outrage with which the following view will be met by many people, and I share the outrage caused by abusive priests) I believe that the efficacy of the sacraments remain even when administered by a priest who has committed a mortal sin.

sheila gray
1 year 3 months ago

Tim: you are approximately my age, and your Reply to this article breaks my heart - for many reasons. I was molested 49 years ago by a nun at a private Catholic girls school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I was a young 17, at the beginning of my Senior Year. It destroyed all my hopes and dreams. It destroyed all my relationships. It took me until I was in my early 40’s to fully embrace the reality of what had happened. I have devoted my life to learning about Healing. I firmly believe that true recovery from Catholic Clergy Abuse is to learn how to uncondition the conditioned mind. Catholic clerics perfected the destructive “arts” of brainwashing a long, long time ago. I hope you find Freedom. You are not alone, but the sacraments won’t save you, or anyone. Reject the Conditioning and embrace the awakening of intelligence. Good Luck with the letting go.

CAROL STANTON
1 year 3 months ago

Rights and Obligations of the Faithful, beginning with canon 208. Canon 212/3 certainly applies.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago

Every week there is another story of homosexual disorder in the priesthood: two Chicago priests arrested for sex in public in Miami. This has got to stop. It is demonic and killing the Church. Will this committee address this violation of Church discipline? Both these priests should be defrocked. http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/chicago-priest-arrested-in-miami-has-ties-to-shuttered-program.

A Fielder
1 year 3 months ago

Thanks for this link, Tim. I was surprised to see that Fr Berrio was ordained for Chicsgo with 10 other men. ALL eleven of them are foreigners from Latin America, Africa and Poland.. Is this the only way to find priests for our country? Are the bishops getting desperate?

Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago

This has got to hurt the liberals. Donald Trump has come out defending Pope Francis's handling of the sex abuse crisis. saying that the Pontiff is handling the situation “the best anyone can handle it”. In an interview with the Daily Caller, Trump said that the abuse scandal dated back 70 years, and was “one of the sadder stories ’cause I respect so much the Catholic Church.”

Of the multiple abuse allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Trump said: “I’m surprised at McCarrick, everyone knew him and so incredible to see these things.”

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/09/05/trump-defends-pope-franciss-handling-of-the-abuse-crisis/

A Fielder
1 year 3 months ago

How will this hurt liberals? President Trump’s opinion is irrelevant.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago

It was meant tongue in cheek. You know you might have a PR problem if you need Trump to back you up.

A Fielder
1 year 3 months ago

Trump is probably just trying to change the subject again. He is in more hot water again...

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