I’ve written an essay for the Catholic News Agency, on abuse inside and outside the Catholic Church.
McCarrick, Han, and Ronnell all carried out parts of their abuse in the open. Their campaigns of control and cruelty may not have always created the trail of evidence needed to convict them of a crime, but there was enough for those around them to see that they were failing their respective callings of stewardship. The more they were left to act abusively, the more everyone around them signaled that abuse was acceptable. Why would someone come forward with an allegation of further, private predation when there had been no consequences for public wickedness?
For U.S.A. Gymnastics and NYU, the impulse to curb these abuses is meant to come from a fear of liability. They ought to have curbed these dishonest mentors, and fired them if necessary in order to avoid culpability. But the Church should be swifter to act than any other institution, because it fears more than civil penalties.
Bad employees can be fired, and the supervising organization can wash their hands of them. A bad priest or cardinal must be contained for the sake of his potential victims, but when it seems like his vices are constrained by his age or enfeeblement, the Church cannot say that there is no harm left in him. Unrepentant, he is still a danger to himself and his own soul.