The widely anticipated report into the handling of accusations of sexual abuse by ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been published by the Vatican today.

The 400-page document details the episcopal rise of McCarrick, chronicling how the former Archbishop of Washington D.C. lied to Pope John Paul II about the veracity of abuse claims made against him.

Much attention will now be paid to the decision of the deceased Polish pope to disregard the allegations of McCarrick’s accusers, but the report’s principal concern in Vatican circles is thought to be a rebuttal of accusations that Pope Francis did not act on warnings about the behaviour of the disgraced US cleric.

Charting his meteoric rise up the clerical ladder whilst referencing private correspondence and testimony of key clerics throughout, including that of the current pope, the report issued by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin now sets the stage for Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States who alleges that he warned Pope Francis about McCarrick’s crime years before it was dealt with, to respond to the many criticisms leveled at the Italian diplomat for his own handling of McCarrick during his tenure in Washington D.C.

The Vatican alleges that Viganò failed to follow its direction to request documents in 2012 from a priest who later settled his case, without admission of liability for sexual abuse, against McCarrick and another bishop. Among a series of other claims about Viganò, today’s report also makes clear Pope Francis’ denial that the former nuncio twice told the pontiff about McCarrick’s deeds at separate meetings in 2013.

Although Parolin does admit to informing the pope in 2016 that there was “gossip” about “past imprudent acts” by McCarrick, and that he continued to travel freely around the world despite directions made to the cardinal in 2008 by the Holy See to restrict his movements, Pope Francis maintains that the issue of McCarrick’s past only came to his attention in 2018 when an allegation dating back to the early 1970s was made to the Archdiocese of New York by a now adult male who had been abused as a minor.

Despite laicizing McCarrick in 2019, the report is unlikely to be the final word on the question of how much and when Pope Francis knew about the crimes. Along with Pope John Paul II, the report depicts Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano as a significant source of blame for the sordid affair.

Whether or not that portrayal is accurate, or Vigano is indeed the whistleblower he claims to be, remains anyone’s guess.

UPDATE: Archbishop Viganò has published his reply on, saying the “Vatican fiction continues”:


Today the official Report of the Holy See regarding the McCarrick case has been made public. Before I express myself on its merit, I will take time to analyze its content. However, I cannot fail to note the surreal operation of mystification regarding who are the ones responsibile for covering up the scandals of the deposed American cardinal, and at the same time I cannot help expressing my indignation in seeing the same accusations of cover up being made against me, when in fact I repeatedly denounced the inaction of the Holy See in the face of the gravity of the accusations concerning McCarrick’s conduct. An unprejudiced commentator would note the more than suspicious timing of the report’s publication, as well as the attempt to throw discredit upon me, accused of disobedience and negligence by those who have every interest in delegitimizing the one who brought to light an unparalleled network of corruption and immorality. The effrontery and fraudulent character shown on this occasion would seem to require, at this point, that we call this suggestive reconstruction of the facts “The Viganò Report,” sparing the reader the unpleasant surprise of seeing reality adulterated once again. But this would have required intellectual honesty, even before love for justice and the truth. Unlike many characters involved in this story, I do not have any reason to fear that the truth will contradict my denunciations, nor am I in any way blackmailable. Anyone who launches unfounded accusations with the sole purpose of distracting the attention of public opinion will have the bitter surprise of finding that the operation conducted against me will not have any effect, other than giving further proof of the corruption and bad faith of those who for too long have been silent, made denials, and turned their gaze elsewhere, who today must be held accountable. The Vatican fiction continues. + Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop November 10, 2020