By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Work on a Vatican report into disgraced ex U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is complete and it may be released in the near future but Pope Francis will have the final word on timing, the Vatican's number two said on Thursday.
McCarrick was expelled from the Roman Catholic priesthood a year ago after a Vatican investigation found him guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults and abuse of power.
The 89-year-old, once a power-broker as Archbishop of Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2006, is the highest profile Church figure to have been dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.
In 2018, Francis ordered a through study of all documents in Holy See offices concerning McCarrick. The four U.S. dioceses where he served - New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington, D.C. - carried out separate investigations to feed into the Vatican report.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, was asked about the status of the eagerly awaited report on the sidelines of a conference.
"I think it will come out. I can't tell you exactly when. We are trying to speed things up in order to publish it in the near future," said Parolin, the highest ranking person in the Church hierarchy after the pope.
"But the publication depends on the pope. The work has been done but the pope has the last word," he said.
There is great anticipation for the report in the United States because it may show McCarrick managed to rise through the ranks although his history of sexual misconduct with adult male seminarians was an open secret.
McCarrick's steady ascent in the U.S. Church hierarchy, with Vatican approval, came during the pontificate of Pope John Paul, which lasted from 1978 until his death in 2005.
The allegations against McCarrick, whose fall from grace stunned the U.S. Church, dated back decades.
Allegations of his abuse of minors decades ago did not surface until 2017.
But many in the United States knew of his habit of using his authority to coerce adult seminarians studying for the priesthood to sleep with him.
McCarrick, who has been living in seclusion in the United States, has responded publicly only to the allegations of abuse of minors, saying he has "absolutely no recollection" of them.
He has not commented on sexual misconduct with adult males.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)