Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]
November 23, 2021
By Kevin J. Jones
A former Catholic priest who has previously alleged that ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abused him when he was a seminarian has filed a lawsuit against McCarrick and the Newark archdiocese.
“I’m only doing the lawsuit mainly because three years ago when I did that, I also wrote a letter to Cardinal (Joseph) Tobin, and the Archdiocese of Newark and I never heard anything back,” plaintiff Michael Reading said in a video message posted to his attorneys’ website. “The whole thing is disappointing, but I’m just very disappointed that I never heard anything and got no response from the Church.”
When he sees media coverage of McCarrick’s court appearances, he said, “it all comes back again.”
“Today is actually the anniversary of the day I was ordained by him, 35 years ago today,” he said in the Nov. 22 video, adding that he “felt like telling my story could be helpful.”
Reading, who now lives near Seattle, is represented by Jeff Anderson of the Minnesota-based firm Jeff Anderson & Associates.
“When he was in formation, in preparation for becoming a priest, in the Archdiocese of Newark, it was then-Archbishop Ted McCarrick who was mentoring him and ultimately had the power over him to become a priest,” Anderson said at a Nov. 23 press conference. “McCarrick used his position as the archbishop, over him, to assault and coerce and exploit him.”
McCarrick’s civil attorney, Barry Coburn of the Washington, D.C. firm Coburn & Greenbaum, declined to comment to CNA. For its part, the Newark archdiocese said it takes all allegations seriously and has programs in place to prevent abuse and work with survivors.
“Although we are limited in what information we can share given pending litigation, it is important to note that the Archdiocese of Newark takes seriously all allegations of abuse,” Maria Margiotta, communications director for the Newark archdiocese, told CNA Nov. 23.
“We remain fully committed to our comprehensive programs and protocols to protect the faithful and to working with survivors of abuse, their legal representatives and law enforcement authorities in an ongoing effort to resolve allegations of past abuse,” she said.
At the Tuesday press conference with Anderson’s law firm, Reading said he initially wanted to remain anonymous because he was worried about others’ perceptions. However, he decided to use his real name to encourage other victims in New Jersey to come forward.
“I feel a sense of relief, and of a burden being lifted,” he said. “It’s a long way to go with that, but it’s a start.”
The New Jersey legislature created a special window for victims who suffered sex abuse as adults or children to file lawsuits, but this legal window closes on Nov. 30.
Reading’s lawsuit is the eighth lawsuit that Anderson’s law firm has filed against McCarrick.
Anderson has filed abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church for decades. While some say he has been an advocate for victims, critics characterize him as a self-promoter who has sensationalized and embellished claims in order to attract media attention to litigation.
In statements about other lawsuits he has claimed papal power is to blame for abuse, and has blamed Pope Francis himself. He has cited unproven claims by the controversial Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano about the Holy See’s response to McCarrick.
Anderson’s lawsuit on behalf of Reading also cites the Vatican’s 2020 report on its investigation into what church officials knew about McCarrick.
Reading, known as Doe 308 in the lawsuit, was ordained a priest on Nov. 22, 1986. He served as a priest for only seven years.