Key findings in Vatican report into ex-Cardinal McCarrick

Associated Press

November 10, 2020

The Vatican has taken the extraordinary step of publishing its two-year investigation into the rise and fall of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked in 2019 after a Vatican investigation determined he sexually abused adults as well as children.

Here are key findings from the report, based on documentation and interviews with witnesses, divided into the three papacies that are affected by the McCarrick case: St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.

Pope John Paul II (1978-2005)

McCarrick had generally positive marks during his first two posts as bishop, in Metuchen, N.J. (1981-1986) and Newark, N.J. (1986-2000). But by the mid-1990s, rumors about his behavior were starting to fly, and John Paul passed McCarrick over as archbishop of Chicago in 1997 and New York in 1999.

When the position of archbishop of Washington D.C., opened up, the then-archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor, warned the Vatican in an Oct. 28, 1999 letter that naming McCarrick there would be a mistake, the findings said.

By that time, the allegations against McCarrick included: a 1994 letter by one priest to the Metuchen, N.J., bishop providing eyewitness testimony of McCarrick and other seminarians engaging in sexual acts during a fishing trip, and the priest’s own claims that McCarrick tried to fondle him. It also included anonymous letters sent to various U.S. cardinals that “accused McCarrick of pedophilia with seminarians as well as claims that McCarrick slept with young men in his official residence as well as seminarians at his beach house. O’Connor cited that information and said the risk of scandal would be too great if McCarrick were moved to Washington.

John Paul tasked the Vatican ambassador to the U.S. to investigate. His report confirmed McCarrick bedded seminarians but didn’t find “certainty” that he had engaged in sexual misconduct. The findings didn’t explain what McCarrick and the seminarians were doing in bed together. Instead, they faulted the bishops who were asked to provide information to the ambassador, saying “three of the four bishops provided inaccurate and incomplete information.”

The doubts, however, were enough to persuade John Paul to drop McCarrick as a candidate….

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