“With news filtering out from Rome that Pope Benedict may not, in fact, have issued, as normally required, a written order imposing sanctions upon then-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, the heroic efforts on the part of Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò to clean out the house of the Roman Curia may have been doomed to failure from the start.
According to Edward Pentin of Catholic Herald, a source has indicated that ‘there was ‘no formal decree, just a private request.’ If this point of fact is true, then it could very explain how McCarrick was able to get away with ignoring the canonical penalties that Viganò says Pope Benedict imposed upon him. McCarrick, even worse, may have used the Code of Canon Law designed to protect minors and adults from sexual abuse and abuse of power by bishops to ignore the sanctions imposed on him by Benedict.
According to canon 51 of the Code of Canon Law (CIC), ‘A decree is to be issued in writing. When it is a decision, it should express, at least in summary form, the reasons for the decision.’ Furthermore, ‘For a singular decree to be enforceable, it must be made known by a lawful document in accordance with the law’ (can. 54, § 2 CIC).
Could the alleged failure on the part of Pope Benedict to observe these norms be the reason why McCarrick felt he could continue doing anything he wanted?
Additionally, like countless popes across the centuries before him, Pope Benedict had every single power and right to issue sanctions by what is canonically called a ‘vivae vocis oraculum,’ or ‘oracle of the living voice,’ the ancient expression for a verbal decree.”