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Jenkins announces University will not yet rescind Cardinal McCarrick’s honorary degree

| Thursday, August 2, 2018

University President Fr. John Jenkins released a statement Thursday announcing the University will await the verdict of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s canonical trial before “taking action” on the honorary degree the University awarded McCarrick in 2008.

Multiple claims of sexual abuse have been leveled against McCarrick following a June report received by the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, alleging McCarrick sexually abused a teenager while he was a New York priest over 45 years ago. An Archdiocesan review board found the allegation to be “credible and substantiated” following an investigation.

In the wake of the Church’s announcement, four additional individuals came forward with allegations of abuse, according to a Washington Post article from July 28. One of the individuals was a minor at the time of the alleged abuse, while the other three were adults. All four individuals were either young priests or seminarians at the time of the alleged abuse, the article said.

At Pope Francis’s request, McCarrick sent a letter of resignation from the College of Cardinals to the Vatican on July 27. Pope Francis accepted the resignation the following day and “suspended [McCarrick] from public ministry,” the University release said. The former cardinal will “live a life of prayer and penance” until his trial.

In the University statement, Jenkins said McCarrick, who “maintains his innocence,” has a “right to be heard” in the context of his trial. He referenced the University’s only other decision to rescind an honorary degree, in the case of Bill Cosby on April 27.

“The only honorary degree that the University of Notre Dame has rescinded was that of Bill Cosby, and this action was taken only after judicial proceedings in criminal court concluded with a guilty verdict,” Jenkins said.

Cosby — who received an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1990 — was found guilty April 27 of penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious and penetration after administering an intoxicant in a case brought forward by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. Constand — in a story similar to those of many of Cosby’s other accusers — said the actor and comedian drugged her in order to sexually assault her in 2004. She is one of more than 50 women who accused Cosby of sexual assault.

As with Cosby, Jenkins said, the University will await the case’s conclusion before making a final decision about McCarrick’s degree.

“While the University finds the alleged actions reprehensible and has no reason to question the review board’s findings, it recognizes that McCarrick maintains his innocence and that a final decision in the case will come only after a canonical trial in Rome,” Jenkins said in the statement. “As in the case of Bill Cosby, we will wait until that trial is concluded to take action regarding McCarrick’s honorary degree. We strongly urge those involved in this trial to reach a conclusion as expeditiously as possible.”

While noting the gravity of the charges against the now-former cardinal, Jenkins said the decision to await a verdict was made with the rights of all parties in mind and out of respect for the proceedings.

“While the allegations in this case are most grave, as they were in the case of Bill Cosby, we believe it respects not only the rights of those involved but also the adjudicatory process itself to allow that process to reach a conclusion before taking action,” Jenkins said.

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