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Mar 4, 2024

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Liberal Left Implicates John Paul II

Poles distressed by cover-up attacks on history’s “Greatest Pole”

By Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent

WARSAW–Many Catholics in a nation that regards Saint John Paul II as “the greatest Pole that ever lived” were distressed by the latest, renewed liberal-leftist attempts to implicate the late John Paul II in a sex cover-up scandal. “Saint John Paul II knew of the suspicions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick before appointing him Archbishop of Washington and making him a cardinal,“ wrote Poland’s German-owned news portal Interia. A headline in the Washington Post read: “Still saintly? New Vatican report on McCarrick may complicate the legacy of John Paul II.”

They were referring to a recently released Vatican report on the sexual misconduct of former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick, now 90. Always eager to take a swipe at the Church, worldwide left-leaning liberal media ran similar headlines. Further down they usually mentioned the complexities of the case, but many of today’s average readers do not go much beyond internet headlines. Those have suggested that the Polish-born Pontiff knew of the American prelate’sexual misconduct but was slow or failed to react, thereby bearing co-responsibility for the cover-up.

In actuality, when allegations of McCarrick’s sexual misdeeds with seminarians reached John Paul round the start of the 21st century, he had  the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) in the US investigate. But the Pope received only a sketchy and incomplete report of circulating rumors devoid of solid evidence. And all but one of the American prelates consulted voiced a positive view of McCarrick. Nevertheless, the Holy Father had McCarrick’s name removed from a shortlist of candidates being considered for the Washington archbishopric.

John Paul changed his mind only after his personal secretary and long-standing, trusted friend, Bishop Stanisław Dziwisz, shared a letter in which McCarrick fervently denied the allegations, posed as a faithful son of the Church and swore his innocence. Dziwisz convinced the Pope that the American churchman was beyond reproach. “The Pope did not receive full and complete information about the moral conduct of McCarrick who lied claiming to have never had sexual relations with anyone,” Polish Episcopate chairman Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki said, commenting in the Vatican report. “The Holy Father was deliberately misled and cynically deceived.”

The Vatican’s over 460-page McCarrick report put the situation in a broader context, pointing out John Paul’s experience in Poland with Communist attempts to discredit the Church and smear the reputations of prominent churchmen. “The saintly Pope should have listened to his friend Cardinal O’Connor, who strongly recommended that McCarrick not be advanced,” it added.  Perhaps that could be best described as momentary error of judgment on John Paul’s part. But saints, after all, have never been declared error-free.

“There is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.” John Paul told America’s Catholic bishops in 2002. As a result, the Church introduced background checks for Church employees and  refused to ordain men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.” Nine months before his death in 2005, the Polish Pontiff ordered the closure of Austria’s Sankt Pölten Seminary after an investigation revealed instances of child pornography and homosexual activity there.

The lack of credible evidence of McCarrick’s several-decade-long sexual misconduct permitted him to head the Washington Archdiocese for seven years. It was not until his first victim came forward to testify against him that the American prelate was forced to give up his title of cardinal in 2018 and defrocked (laicized) by Pope Francis the following year.