When the charges against Fr. Maciel first surfaced, I studied the matter with care and had detailed discussions with knowledgeable people on all sides of the ensuing controversy. I said in First Things and elsewhere that I was “morally certain” the charges were false. Moral certitude, it should be noted, is a very high degree of probability that justifies action, but is short of certitude described as absolute, mathematical, or metaphysical. I do not know all that the CDF and the Holy Father know, and am not privy to the considerations that led to their decision. It is reasonable to believe that they think Fr. Maciel did do something wrong.
This is what counts as a retraction among theocons. It is, of course, merely more deference to the very ecclesiastical authorities that covered up the abuse in the first place. And that is the core message of theoconservatism: obedience to authorities who have already betrayed the most basic trust.