The McCarrick Report is Only the First Step; Many More Must Come to Prevent Future Abuse
With the release of this report into the crimes and wrongdoings of disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, there is finally more awareness about the realities of his career and the ways in which a dangerous sexual abuser was able to hide within the Catholic Church while also climbing his way to the top.
Awareness is good. But awareness is meaningless without concrete action.
The immediate step that must follow the publication of this report is the punishment and expulsion of those who knew about McCarrick’s crimes but did nothing to stop them. What is most important for the world to now know is not the specifics of what McCarrick did, but the specifics of who else knew? What did they know? When did they act on their information, and with whom did they share it?
Abuse thrives in secrecy and it lives in fear. Powerful men like McCarrick were able to get away with their abuses because too many were kept in the dark by those who were afraid of what bringing in the light would do.
Today, parishioners and parents know more about the past than they did yesterday. Now, in order to believe that the future will brighter than the past, we need to see concrete steps toward change. That includes the removal of any prelate who was aware of McCarrick’s crimes and did nothing. It includes a Pope who is willing to talk earnestly and often about what actions he is taking to combat clergy abuse worldwide. It requires recognition that the abuse crisis is not a thing of the past, but an ongoing problem due to a continued lack of transparency and accountability.
This report is one step in the right direction. It is now up to the Vatican to take action. The remaining steps need to be implemented swiftly so that those who have just now learned about McCarrick’s history can be confident that the mistakes of the past are being corrected and that this history – sordid, sad, and criminal – will not ever be repeated.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)