A shocking admission and report from the Vatican released Tuesday states that Pope John Paul II knew of and ignored the sex abuse allegations made against Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington D.C.. The former Cardinal, now 90, was accused of sexually abusing minors and adults.
He became the highest-ranking official forced out of the priesthood in modern times when Pope Francis defrocked him in 2019. The move came after the Catholic Church found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians.
The church said evidence shows officials inside the Vatican knew about McCarrick’s wrongdoing for years. It was Pope Benedict who eventually took the allegations against McCarrick more seriously that his predecessor, asking him to step away from his duties and lead "a life of prayer," the report said. However, Pope Francis called for an investigation into McCarrick’s past in 2019.
The report said that the emotional interviews which were conducted into the allegations with victims included recounting “sexual abuse or assault, unwanted sexual activity, intimate physical contact and the sharing of beds without physical touching.”
The report said that McCarrick “sexually abused a minor during the early 1970s,” and continued to do so as his career was on "elevation to the episcopate in 1977.” The allegations continued to mount until 2017.
Francis has promised victims of abuse at the hands of clerics that he will "follow the path of truth wherever it may lead."
Vatican leaders and those victims hope that McCarrick's fall from grace will also lead to consequences, and prevention, now that the report has been made public.
Pope Francis made the late Pope John Paul II a Saint in 2014.