Petition – McCarrick

Rescind McCarrick’s Honorary Degree

.@NotreDame president Jenkins should take a stand for the protection of children and vulnerable adults from priestly predation by rescinding #McCarrick's honorary degree. #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

Dear Father Jenkins,

We, the undersigned alumni, members of the Notre Dame community, friends of Notre Dame, and concerned Catholics, urge you to rescind the honorary degree the University awarded in 2008 to then Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and to announce the University’s support for a wide-ranging and unconstrained investigation into what McCarrick did, who knew, and what they did or didn’t do about it.

Former Cardinal McCarrick is at the epicenter of the most serious crisis faced by the Catholic Church in the United States in a very long time. He has become the face of clerical sexual abuse in the wake of:

  • The determination of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s archdiocesan review board that he sexually abused an altar boy,
  • A wave of subsequent allegations of his sexual abuse of seminarians, young priests, and other boys, which McCarrick has not denied, and
  • His forced resignation from the College of Cardinals.

Archbishop McCarrick’s image as the archetypal clerical malefactor will only be magnified as the clamor for an investigation becomes ever louder and the inevitable investigation is launched.

So, too, we submit, will Notre Dame’s reputation as a Catholic institution be further damaged if it continues to stand aside now that Catholic University, Fordham University, Portland University, St. Bonaventure University, Sienna College, and the College of New Rochelle have revoked the honorary degrees they awarded to McCarrick.

We draw your attention particularly to Catholic University’s swift action because all six United States cardinals and a clutch of bishops serve as trustees. We suggest there is reason to be wary when Notre Dame finds itself alone in the company of Georgetown University, the only other major Catholic school that has taken no action.

Notre Dame’s position is especially uncomfortable because you appear to regard McCarrick’s offenses as less serious than Bill Cosby’s. You rescinded Cosby’s honorary degree the day the jury found him guilty of abusing a woman even as he protested his innocence and pledged to appeal. The decision of Cardinal Dolan’s panel of experts that McCarrick abused an altar boy surely is entitled to as much weight as that of a randomly selected jury. Indeed, you acknowledge you have “no reason to question the review board’s findings.” Nevertheless, you are awaiting a canonical review that McCarrick has not sought, of which there has been no word, and which may never occur. And as with Cosby, there are a host of other credible charges, none of which McCarrick has denied.

It is, accordingly, unsurprising that both student newspapers, The Irish Rover and The Observer, have decried your decision. But it is not too late for Notre Dame to assume its proper leadership role in this time of trouble. By rescinding McCarrick’s honorary degree and calling for an investigation, the University would demonstrate that the protection of both children and vulnerable adults from priestly predation is something Notre Dame is willing to fight for.

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Sycamore Trust relies on the personal networks of our supporters to spread the word about our work.  Please let others who you think might be interested in standing with us know about our petition urging Fr. Jenkins to rescind Theodore McCarrick’s honorary degree.