Bishop Michael Olson responds to Vatican’s McCarrick report
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has information from a Catholic News Service article by Cindy Wooden
FORT WORTH —Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth responded to the November 10 release of the report on the Holy See’s Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick. According to Bishop Olson, the report is voluminous and will require time and diligent attention for a more detailed response to come later.
After reading the 14-page summary, Bishop Olson noted, “I would like to thank Pope Francis for responding to victims of McCarrick for permitting this report to be conducted and released. I am grateful for the oversight of the Holy Father for offering the due and canonical process accorded to McCarrick for his ultimate removal from the priesthood.”
On July 28, 2018, Bishop Olson wrote a letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Fort Worth calling for the former cardinal's "prompt reduction canonically to the laity" due to the scandal and pain caused by McCarrick's crimes and sins.
Although dogged for years by rumors of sexual impropriety, Theodore E. McCarrick was able to rise up the Catholic hierarchical structure based on personal contacts, protestations of his innocence, and a lack of church officials reporting and investigating accusations, according to the Vatican summary of its report on the matter.
Two significant measures have since been enacted to address abuse and coverup by bishops.
First, Vos estis lux mundi ('You are the light of the world') which was promulgated by Pope Francis in May 2019, establishes new procedural norms to combat sexual abuse and to ensure that bishops and religious superiors are held accountable for their actions.
Secondly, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) service which provides a third-party service for gathering and relaying to appropriate Church authorities reports of misconduct and coverup by U.S. bishops.
In June 2018, the Vatican suspended McCarrick from ministry after an investigation by the Archdiocese of New York found credible a charge that he sexually abused a teenager. McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in July, and in February 2019, after a canonical process found McCarrick guilty of "solicitation in the sacrament of Confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power," Pope Francis dismissed him from the priesthood.
Pope Francis initiated an investigation into how McCarrick was able to continue to rise through church ranks despite the repeated rumors, anonymous letters, allegations, and even settlements with alleged victims. The two-year investigation included interviews with more than 90 witnesses.
The summary of the report states, “For the Catholic Church, in the United States and in Rome, the case of Theodore McCarrick — a prelate possessing considerable intelligence and preparation, capable of weaving together many relationships both in the political as well as in the inter-religious level —remains an open wound, first and foremost for the pain and suffering caused to his victims. This wound cannot be treated solely with new laws or ever more effective codes of conduct, because the crime is also a sin. To heal this wound, humility and penitence is needed, asking God’s forgiveness and healing.”
Bishop Olson said, “The McCarrick case cannot simply be an occasion for remorse for past institutional and personal transgressions against the vulnerable by McCarrick and his enablers. Remorse is directed to the self. Rather, this is an occasion for humble contrition, repentance, conversion and a change in actions to become centered upon Christ and His call to priests and bishops to follow His example as the Good Shepherd.”
In his 2018 letter, Bishop Olson reminded the faithful that he and the Diocese of Fort Worth "have zero tolerance for sexual abuse against minors" as manifested in policy and action. He also requested prayer for the victims and the families hurt by McCarrick and others, as well as prayer to prevent further crimes and transgressions.
Read Bishop Olson's July 28, 2018 letter to the Faithful of the Diocese of Fort Worth regarding Theodore McCarrick.
More information on the McCarrick report in the Catholic News Service article by Cindy Wooden.