Dear Fr. Jenkins
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Greetings in Christ. I am writing to you on behalf of the Saint Peter Damian Society, a group of lay Catholics, including Notre Dame students and alumni, dedicated to battling deviancy and abuse in the priesthood. We are calling on you to revoke the honorary degree that Notre Dame awarded to former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2008.
As you know, McCarrick has been accused of sexually abusing minors and seminarians. These accusations are credible and substantiated. Both Fordham University and the Catholic University of America have rescinded the honorary degrees they granted to McCarrick, yet he remains an honored man at Our Lady’s University. We formally request that you rectify this.
In your public statements about McCarrick, you have emphasized that his guilt has not yet been officially adjudicated. We respect your commitment to the presumption of innocence; however, we feel that its strict application in this instance is inappropriate. The revocation of an honorary award is not a prison sentence or even a civil penalty, but rather a private act of disapprobation. We believe that this act is necessary to prevent scandal and, in some small part, do justice for McCarrick’s victims.
Furthermore, we contend that whatever burden of proof that justice may require in this case has already been met. A review board of the Archdiocese of New York has determined that accusations made by one of McCarrick’s victims have been substantiated. Additionally, McCarrick’s abuses have resulted in private settlements by two New Jersey dioceses. McCarrick’s crimes against innocence and chastity are nearly universally acknowledged by witnesses, victims and the Church hierarchy; he has resigned his cardinalship and has been removed from public ministry by the Holy See.
For the sake of the wounded Church, the betrayed laity, the holy priesthood and Christ our Lord, we implore you to rescind McCarrick’s honorary degree.
Jonathan E. Carp
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.