Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick during an interview with Reuters at the North American College in Rome February 14, 2013. Image Credit: Reuters

WASHINGTON: Georgetown University announced Tuesday it has rescinded the honorary degree given to Theodore McCarrick in 2004 when he was a cardinal of the Catholic Church and archbishop of Washington and long before he fell into disgrace.

The university’s action came three days after the Vatican defrocked McCarrick after the church found him guilty of sexual abuse. The University of Notre Dame is also rescinding an honorary degree the prelate received in 2008. Catholic University took the same step last summer, revoking an honorary degree from 2006.

It was the first time in Georgetown’s history that the Jesuit university in the District has rescinded an honorary degree. Founded in 1789, Georgetown has about 19,000 students and is one of the nation’s most prestigious Catholic schools.

John DeGioia, Georgetown’s president, called the revocation of McCarrick’s honorary degree “an important step for us to take at this moment.”

In a letter to the university, DeGioia reiterated a message he had conveyed in September after allegations about McCarrick’s conduct surfaced: that Georgetown has a responsibility to promote “a culture of safeguarding vulnerable people.”

DeGioia said the university’s board of directors approved the action.

“There is more that is required of us in this moment,” DeGioia wrote. “We are called to forge a new culture, to create a context in which the most vulnerable among us will be safe and protected, to create a context in which the abuse of power can be identified and eliminated.”

McCarrick, 88, was archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006 and long an influential figure among the city’s power brokers. He was suspended from ministry last year and resigned the position of cardinal in July after allegations surfaced that he had sexually abused adults and minors for decades.

A church inquiry in January found McCarrick guilty of soliciting sex during confession and committing sins with minors and adults “with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

Costa Rica hunts priest on abuse charges as time runs out

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica: A Costa Rican court has issued an international detention request for a priest who is thought to have left the country as the statute of limitations threatens to run out on abuse charges facing him.

Mauricio Viquez allegedly abused two teenagers in 2003. In Costa Rica, such charges generally can’t be pursued 10 years after a complainant’s 18th birthday, and the alleged victims are nearly 28.

Viquez also faces internal canonical proceedings in the Roman Catholic Church. It is believed he left Costa Rica after taking a leave of absence Jan. 7 from teaching duties at a local university.

San Jose Archbishop Jose Rafael Quiros also faces a canonical investigation for allegedly covering up for Viquez. Quiros is not expected to attend a Vatican summit on abuse that begins Thursday.
— AP

Religious orders apologise

VATICAN CITY: Catholic religious orders around the world apologised Tuesday for having failed to respond when their priests raped children, acknowledging that their family-like communities blinded them to sexual abuse and led to misplaced loyalties, denial and cover-ups.

The two umbrella organisations representing the world’s religious orders issued a joint statement ahead of Pope Francis’ sex abuse prevention summit, which opens Thursday. They vowed to implement accountability measures to ensure that cover-ups by religious superiors end and that children are always safe in the presence of clergy.

With a few exceptions, religious orders have largely flown under the radar in the decades-long scandal, since the focus has been on how diocesan bishops protected their priests and moved them from parish to parish where they were free to abuse again.

Yet congregations such as the Jesuits, Salesians and Christian Brothers have some of the worst records, since they too moved abusers around and had easy access to young victims, since many orders specialise in running schools.

The Union of Superiors General represents the leadership of male religious orders, which count around 133,000 priests globally. The female branch, the International Union of Superiors General, represents some 500,000 religious sisters. They will each send around a dozen representatives to the Vatican sex abuse summit.