Washington D.C., Jun 19, 2020 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- June 20 marks two years since the announcement that credible allegations of sexual abuse had been raised against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In the months that followed, a major crisis of abuse and cover up within the Church in the U.S. was revealed, and Church officials have responded with new policies and pledges of transparency. Here is a timeline of major events in the last two year:
The Archdiocese of New York announces that an allegation of sexual abuse by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been found to be “credible and substantiated.” In the following months, additional allegations will be raised against McCarrick, including claims that McCarrick had a widely-known reputation for sexual advances toward seminarians.
The Diocese of Cheyenne says Emeritus Bishop Joseph Hart has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting two boys after he became bishop of the diocese in 1976. A third credible allegation is confirmed a few weeks later.
Pope Francis accepts the resignation of McCarrick from the College of Cardinals and suspends him from the exercise of any public ministry. He directs McCarrick to observe a life of prayer and penance, pending the canonical process against him.
A grand jury report in Pennsylvania details allegations against some 300 priests, from more than 1,000 victims in six of the state’s Catholic dioceses over a 70-year period. The report was met with national outcry and prompted more than a dozen other states to follow suit.
The U.S. bishops’ conference calls for a Vatican-led investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up surrounding McCarrick.
Former apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano releases a “testament” claiming that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.
Asked during an in-flight interview about Vigano’s letter, Pope Francis says he “will not say a single word” on the subject and instructs journalists to use their “journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.”
Pope Francis calls for all the presidents of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the world to meet at the Vatican Feb. 21-24 to address the protection of minors.
The administrative committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announces new accountability measures, including a code of conduct for bishops and the creation of an independent reporting mechanism for complaints against bishops. The committee also calls for a full investigation into the allegations against McCarrick and the Church’s response to these allegations.
The Vatican announces that Pope Francis has ordered a review of all Holy See files pertaining to allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of McCarrick. The results of that review have not, to date, been released.
U.S. bishops gather for an annual fall meeting in Baltimore; the Vatican instructs them to delay until after the February meeting a vote on two proposals intended to be the foundation of the U.S. Church’s response to the abuse crisis.
The U.S. bishops fail to pass a resolution that would have “encouraged” the Holy See to release all documents on the allegations of misconduct against McCarrick.
McCarrick is laicized. Also known as dismissal from the clerical state, he no longer has the right to exercise sacred ministry in the Church, except in the extreme situation of encountering someone who is in immediate danger of death. In addition, he no longer has the canonical right to be financially supported by the Church. A statement from the Vatican announcing the laicization is released Feb. 16.
February 21 – 24
The Vatican holds a sex abuse summit with the heads of bishops’ conference from countries around the world. The summit’s stated purpose is to educate the world’s bishops on their responsibility for protecting minors from abuse within the Church.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith upholds a 2018 verdict finding Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, Guam, guilty of several abuse related charges. Apuron is deprived of his office as archbishop and forbidden to use the insignia of a bishop or live within the jurisdiction of the archdiocese. He is not removed from ministry or the clerical state, and is not instructed to live in prayer and penance.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory is appointed to replace Cardinal Donald Wuerl in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, where McCarrick had been archbishop and lived in retirement. Gregory promises “I will always tell you the truth.”
Pope Francis issues new experimental norms for the handling of some sex abuse allegations. The norms place seminarians and religious coerced into sexual activity through the abuse of authority in the same criminal category as abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. They also establish obligatory reporting for clerics and religious, require that every diocese has a mechanism for reporting abuse, and put the metropolitan archbishop in charge of investigations of accusations of abuse or negligence against suffragan bishops.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, is accused of mishandling an allegation of sexual coercion made against his former vicar general by permitting the priest to transfer to another diocese and continue in ministry. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston disputes the claim, saying the priest underwent a rehabilitation process, and was recommended to be returned to ministry by the professionals who assessed him.
An investigation finds credible allegations of sexual harassment and coercion of adults by former Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, as well as the fostering of “a culture of fear of retaliation and retribution” that prevented his conduct from being discovered or reported. Pope Francis had accepted Bransfield’s resignation the previous September when he turned 75.
At their annual spring meeting, the U.S. bishops approve the creation of a national third-party reporting mechanism, directives to apply the pope’s new norms, protocol for a diocesan bishop to restrict the ministry his predecessor when needed, and a set of non-binding moral commitments pledging to hold themselves to the same standards applied to priests.
Bishop Steven Biegler of Cheyenne announces that the Vatican has begun a penal process against Bishop Emeritus Joseph Hart of Cheynne amid allegations that he sexually abused minors and covered up sexual abuse.
Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, bishop emeritus of Wheeling-Charleston, was barred by the Vatican from living within his former see and was banned from public ministry in response to reports of sexual and financial misconduct. The Vatican wrote that Bransfield has “the obligation to make personal amends for some of the harm he caused.”
Bishop Mark E. Brannan, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is appointed to replace disgraced Bransfield in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Brannan is installed on August 22.
A one-year window allowing for survivors of abuse to file claims against the institutions which enabled their abuse opens in New York. Over 400 lawsuits are filed on the first day, including many against the Church. Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston is named as a perpetrator in one of the lawsuits. Guglielmone denies all allegations, but dialed down his public appearances in the immediate aftermath. A similar window opened in New Jersey in December 2019.
Slate publishes the first interview with McCarrick since he was laicized and removed from the clerical state. In the interview, McCarrick refuses to admit any wrongdoing and insisted that he is “not as bad as they paint me,” and he stated that “I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of.”
Archbishop Bernard Hebda authorizes the first investigation under the norms in Vos estis lux mundi, into Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston. Hebda told CNA at that time that he had “been authorized by the Congregation for Bishops to commence an investigation into allegations that the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner, the Bishop of Crookston, carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley told his brother bishops at the USCCB Fall General Assembly in Boston that the McCarrick report would be released “if not before Christmas, soon in the new year.”
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn reveals that he has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back to the 1970s.
Bishop Brennan orders Bishop Bransfield to apologize for his misdeeds and pay $792,638 in restitution for his financial misconduct.
Pope Francis accepts the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo. Malone was accused of mishandling allegations of sexual abuse by priests.
Pope Francis told Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing that the McCarrick report would be published “probably after the beginning of the new year.”
The Washington Post makes public the report of the investigation into the financial and sexual misconduct of Bishop Bransfield.
Reports emerge that McCarrick has left the friary in Kansas where he had been staying. It is unclear where he currently resides.
The Archdiocese of New York confirmed that Cardinal Timothy Dolan had been asked by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to conduct an investigation into the allegations against DiMarzio.
The Vatican orders additional investigation into the actions of Bishop Hoeppner.
McCarrick’s coat of arms was removed from his former cathedral in Washington, DC. Previously, the coat of arms had been covered up.
Pope Francis accepts the resignation of Bishop Joseph R. Binzer, an auxiliary bishop of Cincinnati. Binzer had mishandled an abusive priest and did not properly report the situation to appropriate authorities.
Another man accuses Bishop DiMarzio of sexual abuse when he was a minor. DiMarzio referred to the new accusation as “outrageous and libelous” and mused filing suit against his accusers.
Prosecutors announce that they will not be pursuing criminal charges against Hart due to insufficient evidence.
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