I’m disappointed in Francis for other reasons, like saying he couldn’t recall being told that McCarrick was a problem. So many clerical abusers, so easy to forget..
WaPo columnist Liz Breunig has an insightful take on her podcast on the situation as it stands:
I think [the confirmation of sanctions on McCarrick] shines an interesting light that what’s going on in the Church right now because I think for the majority of us the sex abuse crisis and its coverup look like an issue of a powerful institution making calculated moves to protect itself. What this suggests instead is that a lot of the coverup is due to lawlessness and weakness in the institution, where you have attempts by senior Vatican officials including Pope Benedict to censure McCarrick, by stopping him from traveling on behalf of the Vatican and putting an end to his fundraising and therefore his power, and McCarrick just says, ‘Actually, no thanks on all those penalties.’
And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The Vatican secretary of state and Benedict and the nuncio, none of them were able to do nothing about it. How are you going to enforce it? They basically rely on guys like McCarrick saying, ‘ok, that’s fine I’ll respond to these sanctions and take them seriously out of the goodness of my heart’. But is he really going to do that? No. It looks like an institution that’s stumbling and scrambling in light of the crimes of the powerful...
This time it picked up media interest. So then you had an authority outside the Church that was able to pressure the Church, which appeared to not only cause the Church to act but it served as an enforcement mechanism for McCarrick: How are you going to travel around, go do fundraising events and be “good Uncle Ted” if the entire media is focused on you with a fury. You become like Harvey Weinstein, you can have all the power and money in the world but as long as there is this enormous force of the media, and then of course the point of which it all became publicized the civil authorities got involved. Then enforcement became a real possibility and eventually the Vatican did take the highest measures against him. That was helped along and made possible essentially by media sanctions, a force outside the Church...She goes on to say how ironic that integralism is given how the Church can’t even govern itself. She summarizes:
The rock and the hard place is that really only the civil authorities and the media can do anything for them [to clean up corruption], but at the same time the media and authorities hugely diminish the institutional prestige that they’re trying to cultivate by exposing the great weakness and infirmity that was hidden in the institution...I don’t what the answer is in terms of how do you recover an ability in the institution to self-govern, I don’t know that there is a way to do that in contemporary life.