Tuesday, 10 November 2020
It must be 20 years since I was first told that if Cardinal McCarrick's activities ever became common knowledge, then "the dominoes really would start to fall." In the arrogance of youth, I wondered in what sense those activities were not already common knowledge.
But first Saint John Paul II, and then Pope Benedict, demanded an old-fashioned thing called proof. When Pope Francis was presented with that, then he acted, and acted decisively. That approach was entirely correct. Gossip, rumour and hearsay are wholly insufficient.
McCarrick's alleged victim was 16. At least today, he would have committed no offence in the United Kingdom unless coercion were proved, which is a notoriously, but necessarily, difficult thing to do. See also today's report into sex between Catholic priests and teenage boys in Britain, where only Catholic priests would in practice incur any legal or social penalty for having had sex with teenage boys.
Catholic priests who have offended in this regard have violated the Teaching of the Church, they have violated their own vows, and they have violated the Code of Canon Law, which establishes a specific offence of sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18, regardless of any lower age of consent in any civil jurisdiction. It is perfectly obvious who has the moral high ground here.
Meanwhile, let the highly politicised cottage industry around these things know that false allegations that were then withdrawn under cross-examination were bad for credibility, and that claims of sickness to secure adjournments will eventually require the production of medical evidence in open court. Another Crown Court trial? I have not relished anything so much in a very long time.