The decision to defrock Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, now 88 and living in an isolated retreat in Kansas, comes decades too late.

His activities, including hitting on little boys who came to confession to him, were known widely as a recent New York Times investigation proved and a Vatican investigation has confirmed.

Now he is in purdah but why is he not in jail? What teflon blanket do all these priest abusers have that very few ever appear before a court?

That question needs to be answered. It shouldn't be enough to defrock and disgrace these men, the bigger question is why they are still free.

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Surely it is time the FBI or some such agency under a Ricco statue pursued this.

Surely it is time for a Robert Mueller-type figure to launch a federal investigation into the horrific deeds and cover-ups that have shocked and horrified the world and brought Catholicism to its knees.

Whatever I think of Paul Manafort or Michael Cohen or the corruption in the Trump regime, they did not abuse young people and they will pay for their crimes.

Not so for church abusers.

It appears to me the cover -up continues and some are rewarded -- even in the McCarrick case.

Former cardinal and archbishop of Washington Theodore E. McCarrick. Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Former cardinal and archbishop of Washington Theodore E. McCarrick. Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

At the same time as McCarrick was being defrocked, Irish-born Cardinal Kevin Farrell, former Archbishop of Dallas, was appointed to a very significant office in the Vatican, that of Camerlengo or Chamberlain, responsible for the functioning of the church after the pope dies and until his successor is chosen.

As Camerlengo, Cardinal Farrell will oversee the preparations for a papal conclave to elect a new pope, and will also handle the administration of the Holy See in the wake of a pope’s death or resignation. He is the man who will announce the next pope.

It is the first time an Irishman has been given the honor and is also the highest position an Irish clergyman has ever received.

Farrell has “form” however as they say in police circles. He was a priest, vicar general and auxiliary bishop in Washington DC . He was there from during the time McCarrick was appointed Cardinal and Archbishop from 2000 to 2006. McCarrick’s perverted tendencies were well known to all. Farrell too must have heard.

He denies it in the YouTube clip that accompanies this article but he is clearly avoiding the truth.

As The New York Times noted in their investigation of McCarrick:

“Between 1994 and 2008, multiple reports about the cardinal’s transgressions with adult seminary students were made to American bishops, the pope’s representative in Washington and, finally, Pope Benedict XVI. Two New Jersey dioceses secretly paid settlements, in 2005 and 2007, to two men... for allegations against the archbishop. All the while, Cardinal McCarrick played a prominent role publicizing the church’s new zero-tolerance policy against abusing children.”

Cardinal Farrell wishes us to believe he knew nothing, heard nothing suspected nothing even as he operated at the right hand of McCarrick, whose predilections for boys and young men were the source of constant chatter throughout the clergy grapevine.

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Farrell’s reward for seeing no evil is an appointment to one of the most vital offices in the Vatican. Pope Francis had to know of Farrell's past when appointing him to his powerful position.

Organized raping of children, and sexual abuse of nuns is to be discussed in the Vatican this week. Expression of outrage will be offered, promises of never again will be made.

Yet, as the McCarrick/ Farrell case makes clear the cover-up continues, the past cannot be purged by platitudes. When will perversion be prosecuted by the state and not left to the church?

In the meantime, ordinary Catholics cry enough and wonder if they can take their church back. As long as men like McCarrick are allowed to operate and enablers are covering up, the answer is never.