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Clerical cronyism and secrecy shielded McCarrick and others.

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 / Cardinal Theodore McCarrick arrives at a meeting of cardinals in advance of the conclave to elect a new pope at the Vatican in March 2013. (CNS/Reuters/Max Rossi)

Then-Cardinal McCarrick was apparently used to living a double life and thought no one would reveal the truth. And one thing is for sure. His case is not unique.

Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

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Oct 22, 2018 | Two months into the sex abuse scandal that forced Theodore McCarrick to renounce his cardinal's red hat and withdraw to a Capuchin friary in Kansas, Catholics are still asking, "How did this happen?" How does someone like McCarrick advance to the pinnacle of Catholic power and stay there for so long when he carries so much baggage of crime and sin? Was there no vetting? Were there no background checks? Was someone protecting him?

If there is any "malpractice" in this scandal, it belongs to the various papal nuncios (Vatican ambassadors) and the members of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, who are responsible for checking the backgrounds of candidates for the episcopacy. They did not do their jobs. It also belongs to McCarrick's patrons and promoters in America and in Rome, including Cardinals Francis Spellman (archbishop of New York 1939-67) and Terence Cooke (archbishop of New York 1968-83) and Pope John Paul II. All three were enchanted by McCarrick's fundraising skills.

Peter Daly is a retired priest of the Washington Archdiocese and a lawyer. After 31 years of parish service, he now works with Catholic Charities.

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