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Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexual assault of a minor

Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick is seen at a church in Washington Nov. 1, 2017. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2021 / 12:11 pm (CNA).

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has reportedly been charged with sexual assault of a teenage boy, a crime alleged to have occurred in the 1970s.

McCarrick was dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis in 2019, after the Vatican conducted an expedited canonical investigation and found McCarrick guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that, according to documents filed in the Dedham District Court on Wednesday and obtained by the Boston Globe, McCarrick was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14. The criminal complaint filed July 28 includes graphic descriptions of alleged sexual acts.

In court documents, the man alleging the abuse claimed that McCarrick, being a family friend, began abusing him when he was a boy, the AP reported.  The man said that McCarrick groped him in 1974 at his brother’s wedding reception when he was 16 years old. The groping purportedly occurred while the two were walking around the campus of Wellesley College.

The AP also said the report accuses McCarrick of leading the boy into a room and fondling him, then telling the boy to say a penance of Hail Marys and Our Fathers in order to gain God’s forgiveness of his sins.

McCarrick was ordained a priest in 1958 and became auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New York in 1997. He became in 1981 Bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, then Archbishop of Newark in 1986, and then in 2001 Archbishop of Washington, DC, where he retired in 2006.

He became a cardinal in 2001, but resigned from the College of Cardinals after it emerged in June 2018 that he had been credibly accused of sexually assaulting a minor. Allegations of serial sexual abuse of minors, seminarians, and priests soon followed, and McCarrick was laicized in February 2019.

According to Jeffrey Anderson, a prominent attorney for sex abuse victims, McCarrick resided in the rectory of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York at the time of the abuse in 1974.

As CNA previously reported, in 1971 McCarrick became secretary to New York’s Cardinal Terence Cooke and lived in the rectory attached to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He also grew close with several large Catholic families in the area in the years that followed. He called teenage children in these families “nieces” and “nephews” while accepting the nickname “Uncle Ted,” and traveled regularly with teenagers including on overnight trips.

“Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s history of prolific sex crimes has been ignored by the highest-ranking Catholic officials for decades,” said Anderson on Thursday. “For too long Catholic institutions have been self-policing while making pledges and promises without action – McCarrick should be behind bars for his crimes.”

McCarrick’s public disgrace in 2018 and dismissal from the clerical state a year later shocked Catholics in the United States and around the world, and triggered an international crisis of credibility for the Church’s hierarchy, leading to Pope Francis calling an unprecedented meeting of the world’s bishops in 2019 to address issues of sexual abuse and accountability in the Church.

The fallout of the 2018 allegations against McCarrick, and reports that Church leaders knew for years about possible instances of misconduct but failed to act, also contributed to Pope Francis’ promulgation of Vos estis lux mundi, a new provision in canon law allowing for the investigation and trial of bishops for the failure to act on allegations.


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13 Comments

  1. Why, if McCarrick has been laicized, is he living in Missouri and at a facility operated by the Servants of the Paraclete? Who’s footing the bill? Is this another instance of the faithful of the Church being hoodwinked by our cynical hierarchy?

    • Who says he’s in Missouri? Nobody seems to know exactly where he is. I hope the cops can find him and take him away. He will have multiple opportunities for penance between now and death. Hope he doesn’t blow them by denying he did anything wrong. Hell is too horrible to contemplate for more than a few minutes.

      • Who says he’s in Missouri? Nobody seems to know exactly where he is. I hope the cops can find him and take him away.

        Wellesley Police charge McCarrick with assault in case dating to 1970s

        BOSTON (CNS) — The Boston Globe reported July 29 that police in the Boston suburb of Wellesley have charged former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in a criminal complaint filed by Wellesley Police in a district court in nearby Dedham, Massachusetts.

        A summons has been issued ordering McCarrick, now 91, to appear at the court for arraignment Aug. 26.

        The Globe reported that McCarrick is now living in Missouri. The address listed for McCarrick in the court filings is the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri, located in Jefferson County, a suburban county of St. Louis on the eastern side of the state.(emphasis added)

        The Vianney Renewal Center is a treatment center for Catholic clergy with sexual or other disorders.

        According to its website, it’s a ministry coordinated by the Servants of the Paraclete, which collaborates with sponsoring diocesan and religious communities “to provide a safe and supportive environment for the rehabilitation and reconciliation of priests and religious brothers.”

        Last year, the Jefferson County Leader, a weekly newspaper, reported the Dallas police arrested an ex-priest at the center on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child in North Texas that took place in 1989. The ex-priest had been laicized in 2002.

      • Why Is This Catholic Institution Sheltering a Laicized Serial Sexual Abuser?

        Media reports describing criminal charges recently brought against Theodore McCarrick have revealed that he has been living at Vianney Renewal Center in Ditmer, Missouri which is owned and operated by the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete (CSP).

        Although some have reported that McCarrick is paying his own way at the center, the question remains why McCarrick is being allowed to reside at a facility owned by the Catholic Church? McCarrick is now officially a lay person, not a cleric. CSP’s mission is to serve troubled priests, not lay persons.

        Some have speculated that the powerful U.S. prelates are trying to effectively keep McCarrick under house arrest because he knows too much about sexual depravity in the hierarchy. Faithful Catholics deserve answers, especially given the fact they have financed most of the payouts due to clerical abuse over the past 40 years.
        Background on the Servants of the Paraclete

        CSP is a religious congregation dedicated to ministering to Catholic clergy with personal difficulties. The organization was founded in 1947 by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.

        Fr. Fitzgerald started CSP to assist priests who were struggling with alcohol and substance abuse problems, but soon began receiving priests who had sexually abused minors. Initially, Fr. Fitzgerald attempted to treat such priests using the same spiritual methods that he used with others. But by 1948, Fr. Fitzgerald established a policy whereby he refused to take priests who were sexually attracted to children. The policy was changed after Fitzgerald’s death in 1969.

        In a 1964 letter to Bishop Joseph Durick of Nashville, Tennessee, Fr. Fitzgerald expressed “growing concern” about the dramatic change in the nature of problems that were being referred to his order:

        May I take this occasion to bring to your attention what is a growing concern to many of us here in the States. When I was ordained, forty three years ago, homosexuality was a practically unknown rarity. Today it is rampant among men. And whereas seventeen years ago eight out of ten problems here [at the Paraclete facility, Via Coeli] would represent the alcoholic, now in the last year or so our admission ratio would be approximately 5-2-3: five being alcoholic, two would be what we call “heart cases” (natural affection towards women) and three representing aberrations involving homosexuality. More alarming still is that among these of the 3 out of 10 class, 2 out of 3 have been young priests.

        Fr. Fitzgerald became increasingly convinced that such priests could not be cured, could not be trusted to maintain celibacy and should be laicized. He vehemently opposed returning sexual abusers to duties as parish priests. Some bishops chose to ignore Fr. Fitzgerald’s recommendations, preferring instead to rely on the advice of medical and psychological experts who asserted that treatment was feasible.

        CSP was forced to consolidate its operation in Dittmer, Missouri after a series of lawsuits related to sexually abusive priests that had been treated at its facilities. It has been subject of numerous news reports accusing it of essentially becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for sexually abusive priests. Here is a sample of some of the priests who received treatment at CSP facilities:

        John Anthony Salazar Jimenez
        Edmond Parrakow
        Gerald B Fessard
        Lawrence Joseph LJ Lovell
        John F. Fitzpatrick
        Herbert J. McElroy
        Peter E Garcia
        Michael Stephen Baker
        Yusaf Dominic

  2. McCarrick may have been laicized but his acolytes (or “nephews”) are still powerful within the Church, including Cardinal Kevin Farrell (his former Auxiliary who shared a home with him for 6 years) who is Camaralengo, Cardinal Wilton Gregory (who is the current Archbishop of DC), Cardinal Blaise Cupich (of Chicago), Cardinal Joseph Tobin (of Newark, another former McCarrick diocese, Bishp Robert McElroy (of San Diego) all of whom were nobodies until they came under McCarrick’s patronage.

    Anyone remotely connected to the McCarrick network needs to be removed from office.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more….. as lay people have to speak up — Not that I am agree with the way liberals go about speaking up like(BLM) but we need to be more active and clean up our beloved Catholic Church.I pray for good priests.St. Vianney help us.

  3. If the hierarchy of the Church had set out intentionally to destroy the confidence that the faithful have in the Church leadership, they could not have done a better job. How many knew what this creep and others like him were doing and turned a blind eye? Is there a real man among them? Had I been a pastor and received a valid complaint regarding sexual abuse involving one of my priests, I would have borrowed Christ’s whip for the moneychangers before I called the police. They need more real men in the priesthood, but unfortunately, many parents are afraid to encourage their boys to become priests since clowns like McCarrick turned the seminaries into perverted fishing ponds. Pray, clean house, then move forward.

    • Maybe powerful laity were also protecting McCarrick. Could he have been doing off-the-books diplomacy for our government?

    • Michael,

      It is SATAN who has intentionally set out to destroy our Lord’s vineyard, and it begin with the slaughter of the Innocents at Bethlehem. For 2000 plus years we have century after century of seeing how Satan has preyed upon men and women’s sinful weaknesses to divide Our Lord’s Church. Sadly, the recent great sex scandal of many in the Hierarchy is nothing new to the Holy Mother Church. And I take great consolation and hope in our Lord Jesus’ great Holy Ascension proclamation: “The gates of hell will not overtake my Church and know that I am with you all till the end of the Age”. AMEN TO THAT!

  4. He just earned to sit at the right hand of Francis along with Martin ,night night babe and a host of other well fed privileged” men”in red hats. Yukkk.😡while good men like cardinal Sarah mueller Burke etc going about righting their wrong

  5. I would say: May God in His great mercy forgive this carina all his sins but I am not sure if he ever seriously repented. But using the sacrament of confession to lure young boys into sin it is a grave sin. Lord have mercy upon his soul. It incomprehensible how a bishop or a priest may use their ecclesiastical authority to induce people into sin. My unanswered question is why so many men and women kept a sexual abuse hidden and not disclose it immediately. I understand probably to avoid embarrassment and shame, but in a certain way these victim have some guilt because they cooperated to the invitation to sin. Many women accused men for sexually abusing or harass them but I always question their part in this violation of human dignity. If there is no cohers force, then is a cooperation on the abused person. These sad and unacceptable circumstance are very complex.

  6. I would have to speak my heart, always heart breaking to hear about sins in church and sexual abuse. I wnt to ensure and remind all nomatter what gets coverd up or who hides, Truth be told one day we all face our sins and crimes and stand before Jesus nobody gets away!

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