Bishop Hartmayer issues statement on resignation of former Washington, D.C. cardinal accused of misconduct

July 30, 2018


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Peace and all good things!

If you love the Catholic Church as much as I do, then you, too, must be sadly overwhelmed regarding the horrifying revelation of the credible and substantial accusations of sexual misconduct by the retired Archbishop Theodore McCarrick from Washington, DC.

On July 28, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation which stripped him of the title “Cardinal.” This disciplinary action on the part of the pope has not been done in over 100 years. In addition, Pope Francis applied a suspension which, according to Canon 1333 in the Code of Canon Law, prohibits him from the exercise of the rights or functions attached to his office. The pope also directed McCarrick, who is 88, to observe “a life of prayer and penance in seclusion” until the end of the canonical process.

This decision by the Holy Father reflects the priority Pope Francis places on the need for protection and care for all our people and the failures in this area that affect the life of the Church in the United States. The Vatican’s decision to suspend McCarrick follows more than a month of unfolding allegations concerning the prelate.

Once again, the Church is brought to her knees to ask for forgiveness from the victims who have been subjected to these hideous crimes on the part of Church leaders. We are called upon again to pray for the victims who are suffering as a result of an abuse of power on the part of a minister of the Church.

I agree with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, who stated that “the Church needs to respond with more than apologies to sexual misconduct cases. It identifies a major gap in Church procedures for handling accusations against bishops.”

It is clear that the Church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops’ violations of vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults.

I asked the Catholics of the Diocese of Savannah to pray for victims of sexual misconduct and to report to law enforcement agencies any suspicious behavior on the part of priests, deacons, seminarians, religious men and women, lay ministers and volunteers.

I am grateful to Joan Altmeyer from our Office for the Safe Protection of Children for overseeing the thousands of employees and volunteers in our diocese who receive regular training and background checks to insure that our children, in church-related activities, are always in a safe environment while in our care.

We pray for healing and forgiveness.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv.
Bishop of Savannah

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