Faith

1st U.S. cardinal ousted over sex abuse to live ‘life of prayer and penance’ in Kansas

In this Nov. 14, 2011, file photo, then Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore.
In this Nov. 14, 2011, file photo, then Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore. AP Photo

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who stepped down in July over allegations that he sexually abused seminarians and minors for decades, is now living in a friary in Kansas that’s located right next to an elementary school.

The Archdiocese of Washington confirmed McCarrick’s residency in a statement issued Friday.

“In late July 2018, our Holy Father Pope Francis requested that Archbishop Theodore McCarrick withdraw from all public ministry and events,” the statement said. “To that end, Archbishop McCarrick now resides at St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas, in the Diocese of Salina, with the permission of the Provincial Superior of the Franciscan Capuchin Community responsible for the Friary, Fr. Christopher Popravak, O.F.M. Cap., and the Bishop of Salina, Most Reverend Gerald Vincke.”

The statement added that “out of consideration for the peace of the community at St. Fidelis Friary, respect for the privacy of this arrangement is requested.”

The friary is home to five priests and one brother, according to its website. It is located next to the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria, more commonly known as “The Cathedral of the Plains.”

The church, which attracts thousands of visitors each year, is on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2008 was named one of the “8 Wonders of Kansas.”

McCarrick, 88, the former archbishop of Washington, resigned from the College of Cardinals in July, making him the first U.S. cardinal to step down because of sexual abuse allegations. At that time, the Vatican ordered him to live out a “life of prayer and penance.”

Bishop Gerald L. Vincke of the Diocese of Salina said in a statement Friday that he agreed to the arrangement “with the understanding that Archbishop McCarrick is excluded from any public appearances and ministry.”

“Our diocese is not incurring any cost in this arrangement,” Vincke said.

Vincke said he realized that “this decision will be offensive and hurtful to many people.”

“Archbishop McCarrick is, in many ways, at the forefront of the recent firestorm in the Church,” Vincke said. “Many of us are confused and angry by what Archbishop McCarrick is alleged to have done several decades ago. The Holy See stated on July 28 that Pope Francis ‘accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.’”

Vincke apologized to victims of priest sexual abuse.

“My heart aches for you and your families,” he said. “I am unable to comprehend the extent of your suffering. Sadly, many times the victims did not receive an adequate response from the Church regarding the abuse they endured and the life-long pain and suffering that accompanies such evil. As a Church, we are extremely sorry and ask for forgiveness.

“Because of the courage and perseverance of the victims who came forward, they have become the source of much needed change in our Church and our culture. I pray that this may bring about greater purification and healing for our world.”

The announcement of McCarrick’s new residency drew criticism from a survivors’ advocacy group, which said he needed more supervision.

“We’re glad McCarrick is far away from families who know him and trust him,” said David Clohessy, former director of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “But friary staff aren’t trained to deal with alleged molesters.

“For the safety of kids, he should be at a secure, independently-run treatment center. Catholic officials have a miserable track record of trying to oversee proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive colleagues.”

Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles and four victims of abuse made a plea for Kansas and Missouri to open grand-jury style investigations similar to the one conducted of Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.



Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments