Revelations of US cardinal sex abuse will force pope’s hand

Source: Associated Press

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Revelations that one of the most respected U.S. cardinals allegedly sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians have raised questions about who in the Catholic Church hierarchy knew — and what Pope Francis is going to do about it.

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If the accusations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick bear out — including a new case reported Friday involving an 11-year-old boy — will Francis revoke his title as cardinal? Sanction him to a lifetime of penance and prayer? Or even defrock him, the expected sanction if McCarrick were a mere priest?

And will Francis, who has already denounced a “culture of cover-up” in the church, take the investigation all the way to the top, where it will inevitably lead? McCarrick’s alleged sexual misdeeds with adults were reportedly brought to the Vatican’s attention years ago.

The matter is now on the desk of the pope, who has already spent the better part of 2018 dealing with a spiraling child sex abuse, adult gay priest sex and cover-up scandal in Chile that was so vast the entire bishops’ conference offered to resign in May.

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