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McCarrick Report at odds with Cardinal Wuerl’s claims of ignorance 

By Matt Hadro for CNA

Then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington concelebrate Mass in 2010 in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 13, 2020 / 04:22 pm (CNA).- The McCarrick Report sheds new light on when former Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, knew of allegations made against his predecessor, and what steps he and Vatican officials took to monitor or restrict McCarrick’s travel and residence.

The 450-page report, published on Tuesday, examines the “institutional knowledge and decision-making” regarding Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal found guilty of sexual abuse of minors and seminarians in 2019 and laicized after an expedited canonical investigation.

McCarrick’s rise from diocesan priest to cardinal, and leader of the Archdiocese of Washington, despite decades of rumors and allegations of abuse made against him, has raised a series of questions about the conduct and decisions of various other American bishops and Vatican officials in relation to McCarrick.

Cardinal Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor as Archbishop of Washington, D.C., was among the first to fall under close scrutiny at the time accusations against McCarrick were first made public in 2018.

After several months of media scrutiny and criticism of his denials of having prior knowledge or even suspicion of McCarrick’s abuse, Pope Francis accepted Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington on Oct. 12, 2018.

When interviewed for the McCarrick Report, Wuerl denied having been told of McCarrick’s alleged abuses or inappropriate behavior.

“No person in this Archdiocese, no former secretary of his [McCarrick], no lay person, nobody, ever came to me to say that anything abusive had ever occurred, or to say that Cardinal McCarrick had engaged in any inappropriate behavior. Nothing,” Wuerl said in the report, in its section on 2008 discussions of proposed Vatican restrictions on McCarrick’s travel.

Yet as CNA previously reported, Wuerl in 2004 handled an “inappropriate conduct” complaint against McCarrick made by Robert Ciolek, a former priest of the Diocese of Metuchen.

The McCarrick Report confirms that Wuerl, as Bishop of Pittsburgh, received and personally delivered the complaint to then-Apostolic Nuncio Gabriel Montalvo.

Wuerl’s denials of any prior knowledge about McCarrick’s alleged conduct are apparently contradicted by another account in the report.

In 2010, Wuerl was mentioned in a Vatican Secretariat of State memo as expressing concern that news outlets could reveal “nasty” details about McCarrick’s “moral life.”

When an Archdiocese of Washington official requested that the Vatican send McCarrick blessings for his 80th birthday, both Wuerl and then-USCCB president Cardinal Francis George cautioned against the idea. According to a June 2, 2010 internal memorandum of the Secretariat of State, both Wuerl and George brought up “the possibility that the New York Times is going to publish a nasty article, already prepared, about the Cardinal’s ‘moral life’.”

During the aftermath of the McCarrick allegations in 2018, Wuerl also denied having a role in McCarrick’s living situation while retired.

In 2018, Wuerl denied having been informed by the Vatican as to McCarrick’s living situation or travel restrictions, as alleged by former Nuncio Carlo Maria Vigano in his August 2018 “testimony.”

A spokesman for the archdiocese told CNA on Aug. 27, 2018, that “Archbishop McCarrick typically made his own housing arrangements and did not directly involve the Archdiocese of Washington.”

Wuerl, when interviewed for the McCarrick Report, said that Vatican officials never told him about wishes for McCarrick to move out of the seminary: “Nobody ever told me anything about [Holy See officials] wanting him to move. Nothing.”

Wuerl is quoted in the report saying that McCarrick approached him requesting that he help the retired cardinal find a residence other than the seminary.

As CNA reported, McCarrick moved out of Redemptoris Mater Seminary and into a residence at St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Washington, D.C., in early 2009; a priest-resident at the parish told CNA that Wuerl “ordered” the move.

According to Vatican correspondence in the report, Wuerl was also part of discussions with Vatican officials about the need for McCarrick to possibly move out of his residence and keep a lower public profile.

On Oct. 17, 2006, shortly after Wuerl took possession of the Archdiocese of Washington, Vatican officials discussed the need to limit McCarrick’s travel and public appearances due to an abuse allegation filed with the Diocese of Metuchen.

Given that the allegation involved McCarrick’s abuse of a seminarian, the Vatican also proposed moving McCarrick out of his then-residence at a Washington seminary.

In a letter from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, then-Prefect for the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, to then-apostolic nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Re said he informed Wuerl of the situation:

“I did determine that it was necessary to make mention of this [matter] to H.E. Mons Wuerl, [Cardinal McCarrick’s] successor, when he was passing through Rome, for his personal information.”

Wuerl’s name appeared again in Vatican correspondence in 2008, in a May 27 report to Rome by Sambi.

Sambi said that he and Wuerl agreed upon the need for McCarrick’s travel restrictions and maintaining his seminary residence given the ever-present risk of “a scandal-inducing campaign” against him.

“Msgr. Wuerl is of the opinion that he should not accept invitations in the United States,” Sambi wrote.

The report also says that Re “clearly recalled in an interview” that he discussed McCarrick’s living situation with Wuerl and that Wuerl “consistently favored McCarrick not living at the seminary.”

In 2011, McCarrick moved out of his apartment at St. Thomas parish to a small house on the property of Saint John Baptist de la Salle Parish in Hyattsville, Maryland. According to the McCarrick Report, the move was related to McCarrick’s advancing age and declining health, but Wuerl also could no longer supply him with a diocesan priest as a secretary.

According to the report, McCarrick continued living in the house until 2017, when he moved to a retirement home maintained by the Little Sisters of the Poor, at the request of Cardinal Wuerl.

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  1. The lying by our bishops knows no end. When they do take a pause from their lying, the bishops then concentrate on their fine art of finding a scapegoat.

    Lying, blaming, homosexuality, lusting, power, hedonism, money-obsessed – all these sum up what it takes to be a bishop in the rotten culture of our Church currently.

    • Amen, Deacon. And also for your other post below. Now when will God start smacking some bishops’ heads? Because I’m fed up with corruption in the church, people getting away with it, and God doing nothing about it.

  2. Let’s also not fall into the trap of thinking that McCarrick is the problem. The Vatican would love that. No, the culture of the Church created a Ted McCarrick and will continue to create more Ted McCarrick’s until the culture of our Church changes. The culture of our Church is marked by sin – our Church lies in darkness and it starts right at the top. Those ‘whitewashed sepulchers’ the Scriptures referred to describes our Church today. And the culture that pervades our bishops, priests, and deacons has also worked its way thoroughly into the lives of the laity. Let the ‘mea culpas’ begin.

    • The problem starts with the popes. They are more concerned with ecumenicism and climate change than they are with laicizing sexually dysfunctional priests. I await an encyclical on sex and sexual morality. Rome doesn’t have the nerve.

  3. On this site just 2 days ago, Dr. Fitzgibbons, who reported McCarrick to the Congregation for Bishops in 1996 or 1997, has condemned the authors of the report for “fabrications and falsehoods” and omissions.

    Dr. Fitzgibbons has called the Report a ontinuation of the coverup of homosexual abuse by (either complicit or compromised) Bishops and clergy.

    My only conclusion is that this Pontiff, having issued this document, and the Secretary of State Parolin, and the Bishops of this Vatican, and indeed most Bishops, are enemies of the truth.

    As such they are enemies of Jesus…and it follows that they are enemies of my family and children and all friends in Christ.

    I am not leaving The Holy Catholic Church.

    But I am and will teach my children and tell my friends that they can presume that Bishops are “men of the lie,” unless and until they step out of “the cult of the lie,” and make themselves known to be faithful shepherds.

  4. Hypocrisy, for, why do we point at the splitter in the eye of others, but fail to recognize the log in our own eye?
    This is a subliminal story to undermine the Catholic church, to drive away the next generation of Priests, and Nuns.. An issue of a few, acting in human nature, mans sinful ways, that is predominate in all of history, every society, yet evil.
    Will our new President, as a devout Catholic end the forever wars on the poor,, most directly the murderous, evil genocide the US has imposed on Yemen, is the real story of today.. As Kennedy did, that lead to his being Martyred.

    • I notice that you don’t recognize your own hypocrisy here. Why are you failing to address the log in your own eye first – your lies about a “genocide” in Yemen, your hatred for the American people, the deep bitterness of your own heart, and the profound delusions in your thinking? Get to work on yourself, then you might have more credibility to challenge others.

    • “Will our new President, as a devout Catholic”


      That’s if you’re referring to Biden, who, I will point out to you, is not yet the winner of the election; and I pray that he never will be.

      You rant semi-coherently about Yemen, and ignore the more than sixty million babies who have been murdered in the United States since abortion was legalized; and Biden supports abortion.

      If you’re referring to President Trump, he isn’t Catholic, though I pray that he may be given the grace to become one.

    • Will our new President, as a devout Catholic(sic)

      The infanticide promoter has yet to be inaugurated, Lyle and you might want to examine that log projecting from the discernment section of your brain housing group post haste.

  5. I can’t help but see a 90yr old man who no doubt is pained with regrets. I also see a 3yr old boy who’s father died and his single working mother had to farm him out to heaven knows who. The abused abuse. It’s all tragic. Let’s pray for him.

    • Not too many have pointed out McCarrick was once three years old. Actually, you are only one of two I know. I often wonder who preyed on him.

    • Camille –

      Your desire for compassion is understandable and beautiful.

      I must point out that McCarrick has publicly denied his grievous crimes, and arranged that public denial while “giving money to the poor.”

      He needs our prayers for conversion and repentance. Even his child victim James Grein offers that.

      But he is refusing to do so.

      And I note that the Pontiff Francis has failed to publicly call for McCarrick to repent, which is what a true Good Shepherd would have required of McCarrick, on pain of ex-communication.

      That realization about the Church right now is a picture of extreme corruption and decadence: it seems that the corrupted Church hierarchy is content to let McCarrick die in a state of mortal sin.

      That is the definition of the banality of evil.

      We should pray for McCarrick, that he may plead his sorrow for his sins to the Son of God who suffered crucifixion for us, who will redeem those who come to him and submit to The Truth.

  6. Thanks Kathryn. I’ve been battered all over the place for my view/belief on this sad matter. I stand by my sadness. Forgive us all Lord.

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