Cardinal Theodore Mccarrick Alleged to Have Sexually Abused Minor 47 Years Ago
By Paul C. Grzella
Courier News/My Central New Jersey
June 20, 2018
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, D.C, who also served as the Archbishop of Newark, N.J., and the founding Bishop of Metuchen, N.J., is alleged to have sexually abused a minor 47 years ago when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, Roman Catholic church officials announced Wednesday.
As a result of the allegations, called "credible and substantiated" by church officials, the cardinal is stepping down from active ministry until a definite decision is made through the canonical process, according to a statement from the archdiocese of Washington.
"While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people," McCarrick said in a statement.
|Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington and first Bishop of Metuchen, (center) poses with Bishop Emeritus Paul G. Bootkoski (left) and Bishop James F. Checchio (right). (Photo: Erin Friedlander / Diocese of Metuchen)|
The 87-year-old McCarrick, who has been a priest for 60 years, is believed to be the first cardinal to step down from active ministry following allegations of sexually abusing a minor.
As part of the review process, while no other allegations of abuse with minors were found, allegations that McCarrick engaged in sexual misconduct with adults while he served in New Jersey were revealed.
According to a statement from the Archdiocese of New York, the sexual abuse allegations were reported several months ago, and occurred during the time when McCarrick was private secretary to Cardinal Terence Cooke, a position McCarrick held from 1971 to 1977.
The allegations were reported to law enforcement officials, and were investigated by an independent forensic agency. McCarrick was advised of the charge, and, while maintaining his innocence, fully cooperated in the investigation, according to the statement. The Vatican was alerted as well, and encouraged the archdiocese to continue the review.
The allegations were given to the Archdiocesan Review Board, which includes jurists, law enforcement experts, parents, psychologists, a priest and a religious sister. The board found the allegations to be "credible and substantiated." The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, instructed McCarrick, who retired as the Archbishop of Washington in 2006, that he is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry or activity until a definite decision is made, according to the statement.
"Cardinal McCarrick, while maintaining his innocence, has accepted the decision," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said in the statement.
A statement from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in part, "I express my gratitude to Cardinal Dolan, who has carried forward with clarity, compassion for the victims, and a genuine sense of justice. With him, I express my deep sadness, and on behalf of the Church, I apologize to all who have been harmed by one of her ministers."
In separate statements, Most Reverend James F. Checchio, Bishop of Metuchen, and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, archbishop of Newark, said that a review of church records has found no other allegations of abuse of minors during McCarrick's time in the diocese, which includes Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren counties, or the archdiocese, which includes Union County.
But the prelates reported that the review found previously unreported allegations that McCarrick engaged in sexual behavior with adults.
"This Diocese and the Archdiocese of Newark received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements," Checchio said. A diocesan spokeswoman added that the allegations were reported to law enforcement officials at the time they were made; they had not previously been reported publicly.
Throughout his 60 years as a priest, the New York-born McCarrick has had a storied career. Ordained in 1958, he served as an assistant chaplain at the Catholic University, where he later became dean of students and director of development. From 1965 to 1969, he served as president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. He then returned to the Archdiocese of New York, where he served in leadership capacities and as a parish associate pastor.
He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York in 1977, and in 1982, became the founding bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, which was carved out of the Diocese of Trenton as the number of Roman Catholics grew in Central Jersey. He was named the fourth Archbishop of Newark in 1986, and held that position for 14 years, until he was appointed the fifth Archbishop of Washington in 2000; he was elevated to cardinal in 2001.
McCarrick, long an advocate of social justice issues and fluent in several languages, has continued to work with different Washington, D.C.-based institutions since his retirement, which occurred at the mandatory age of 75.
While in New Jersey, McCarrick was a popular and charismatic leader as bishop of Metuchen, and while leading the Archdiocese of Newark, creating programs that focused on social justice and community-building.
The former St. Mary's High School in South Amboy also was renamed the Cardinal McCarrick High School; the school closed in 2015 because of declining enrollment.
But his accomplishments will now be linked with the sexual abuse scandal which has rocked the Roman Catholic church for decades.
Judy Block-Jones, Midwest Associate Leader for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) hopes that Wednesday's announcement will give other "victims the courage to step forward."
Block-Jones believes that "if he did this, he most likely covered up the sex crimes of other clergy," she said. "Others need to know that it is OK to come forward and speak about what happened to them."
"The abuse of anyone who is vulnerable is both shameful and horrific," Checchio said. "The abuse of a minor by a priest — as is being reported in this case from New York — is an abomination and sickens and saddens us all."
In their three separate statements, Tobin, Checchio and Dolan, offered apologies to anyone ever victimized or abused by clergy, and urged that such abuse be reported to authorities.
"I am thinking particularly of those who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy — whose lives have been impacted tragically by abuse," Tobin said. "To those survivors, their families and loved ones, I offer my sincere apologies and my commitment of prayer and action to support you in your healing."
McCarrick served the archdiocese of Newark for almost 15 years, Tobin noted. "No doubt many of you developed strong relationships with him and appreciate the impact of his service," he said." Those feelings are likely hard to reconcile with the news of a credible and substantiated claim of abuse of a minor. While Cardinal McCarrick maintains his innocence and the canonical process continues, we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth."
Tobin and Checchio said they are committed to maintaining a safe environment for children in their diocese.
"I will continue to report immediately to civil authorities any accusation of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy and will cooperate fully in the investigation and adjudication," Tobin said. "I continue to urge anyone who was abused by clergy to come forward, as brave survivors before you have done. To the priests, religious and all other members of this community, I join you in continued prayer that God carry us together in his love with commitment to our faith and each other."
To report a suspected abuse case in the Diocese of Metuchen, call Diocese of Metuchen Diocesan Response Officer Lawrence Nagle at 732-562-2413 or visit https://diometuchen.org/offices-and-ministries/vicar-general/child-and-youth-protection/report-a-suspected-abuse/.
To report a suspected abuse case in the Archdiocese of Newark, call Karen Clark, director, Safe Environment at 973-497-4254 or visit https://www.rcan.org/offices-and-ministries/child-youth-protection/report-abuse.
Paul C. Grzella, 908-243-6601; firstname.lastname@example.org