Vatican Declares Fr Scott McCarthy’s Removal from Ministry Invalid

MONTEREY – In a memorandum dated 16 September 2021 and addressed to the “Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Monterey”, the Most Rev. Daniel E. Garcia, 5th Bishop of Monterey in California, announced that following an investigation by the Holy See, Rev. Cornelius “Scott” McCarthy‘s 2018 removal from public ministry by the Diocese was invalid.

Fr Scott McCarthy had been removed from public ministry on 12 December 2018 by the Most Rev. Gerald E. Wilkerson. A retired auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, Bishop Wilkerson had been serving as the apostolic administrator of the vacant see of Monterey since 20 July 2018. The See of Monterey had become vacant upon the 11 July 2018 death of the Most Rev. Richard J. Garcia, 4th Bishop of Monterey in California.

Bishop Wilkerson’s decision was based on a 2008 canonical investigation into an accusation that Fr Scott McCarthy had sexually abused a minor some 30 years prior. This formal investigation had concluded that the accusation was not credible, and Fr McCarthy continued to exercise his priestly ministry.

Nevertheless, Bishop Wilkerson revoked Fr McCarthy’s priestly faculties and his name was published on the Diocese’s list of “Priests Credibly Accused of Sexually Abusing a Minor” that was released to the public on 2 January 2019. These actions were taken even though no new information had come to light.

Exercising his rights under the Church’s Code of Canon Law, Fr McCarthy officially lodged an appeal to the Holy See. A Vatican investigation soon commenced and on 25 June 2021, the Holy See issued its final decision:

Fr McCarthy’s name on a list of clerics credibly accused of abusing a minor is demonstrably false and his removal from ministry is declared invalid, and his name is to be removed from the list of Priests Credibly Accused of Sexually Abusing a Minor.

In his memorandum published on the diocesan website, Bishop Daniel E. Garcia expressed the Diocese’s genuine sorrow “for the damage done to Father McCarthy and his personal and priestly reputation by its error in falsely identifying him as ‘credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor’”. Bishop Garcia also acknowledged that Fr Scott McCarthy “remains a priest in good standing with all the rights, privileges, and faculties of the Diocese of Monterey, with no restrictions on the exercise of his priestly ministry”.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1974, Fr Scott McCarthy has served as the 17th pastor of Our Lady of Refuge in Castroville from 1983 until 1993, as the 7th pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Carmel Valley from 1993 until 2004, and as the 11th pastor of Saint Francis Xavier in Seaside from 2004 until 2007. He is the author of People of the Circle, People of the Four Directions and Sacraments and Shamans.

Fr Jhonnatan Carmona, Parochial Administrator of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Fr Scott McCarthy, Pastor Emeritus.

A Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated by Fr Scott McCarthy on Sunday, 24 October 2021 at the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 9 El Caminito Road, Carmel Valley, at 11:15am. The Mass will be followed by a light reception.