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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In a January 12 letter addressed to the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl offered no apology for months of deceitful statements denying his knowledge of sex abuse allegations against disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Instead, he asked for “understanding.”

The letter (read full letter below) comes after news last week that Wuerl was deceitful about his knowledge of sex abuse allegations against McCarrick, further vindicating the testimony from former Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò on who knew about McCarrick’s serial predation. 

The letter began with Cardinal Wuerl’s admission that “we have all been caught up in the painful revelation” about “then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick,” but then completely failed to acknowledge his own role in causing so much of that pain that has been inflicted on the priests of the archdiocese, who have been thrust into the position of having to defend the duplicitous statements of the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the nation’s capital. 

“[W]hen the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was brought against Archbishop McCarrick,” wrote Cardinal Wuerl, “I stated publicly that I was never aware of any such rumors. This assertion was in the context of the charges of sexual abuse against minors, which at the time was the focus of discussion and media attention.”

An August 14, 2018, CBS video-report posted to Youtube by OnePeterFive today shows Wuerl with a big smile on his face denying that he knew about the abuse of other priests by McCarrick.

Asks the interviewer: “Were you aware of the rumor that McCarrick was having relations with other priests?”

“No, no,” replied Wuerl. 

Cardinal Wuerl concluded his Jan. 12 letter to his priests as follows: “While one may interpret my statement in a different context, the discussion around and adjudication of Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior concern his abuse of minors.” 

“I share this information again with you trusting in your understanding,” he added. 

When allegations against McCarrick erupted last summer, Cardinal Wuerl said he was shocked by the revelations of homosexual predation by McCarrick, repeatedly asserting his claim in the weeks and months that followed. Former Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò testified in August, “The Cardinal’s recent statements that he knew nothing about it … are absolutely laughable. He lies shamelessly.”

Yet Cardinal Wuerl has chosen neither to acknowledge nor apologize for those “lies.”

Wuerl knew about charges of abuse against McCarrick as far back as 2004, according to a Diocese of Pittsburgh file, having reported the charges to the Vatican at the time, even as he’s acted since last June as though he was unaware of any charges involving the former high-profile cardinal.

Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor in Washington, made a statement June 21, the day following the initial allegation of abuse of a minor by McCarrick, the wording of which can be interpreted as pertaining only to his time in the Washington archdiocese and not any time prior – when he’d been made aware of abuse allegations against McCarrick.

“I can report that no claim – credible or otherwise – has been made against Cardinal McCarrick during his time here in Washington,” he said.

The cardinal had also said, “I think we were all shocked and saddened” by the charges of abuse leveled at McCarrick.

Wuerl said he requested a review of the Washington diocese records – but the review focused only on abuse of minors and concerned only McCarrick’s time in Washington.

Wuerl was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.

The Washington Cardinal has been under fire since the Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August said he improperly handled some sexual abuse cases that came before him during his time in Pittsburgh. He has denied the allegations. On October 12 of last year, Pope Francis accepted Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington, although he remains apostolic administrator of the archdiocese until Francis names his successor.

Documentation held by the Pittsburgh diocese contrasts sharply with public statements Wuerl has made about McCarrick since the explosion of sex abuse allegations against the latter began in June, the Washington Post reports

The Pittsburgh file was brought to the news outlet's attention by Robert Ciolek, a former priest who reached a settlement with the Church in 2005 after making abuse allegations against clerics including McCarrick.

Ciolek’s is one of the New Jersey settlements revealed in June with the initial McCarrick allegations.

Ciolek had recently learned that the Pittsburgh diocese had the file showing that Wuerl was aware of his allegations against McCarrick; the file includes documentation that Wuerl had shared the information with then-Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo. Ciolek viewed the document in December.

Wuerl has continually rejected accusations that he had any involvement in the McCarrick matter. 

Both the Archdiocese of Washington and the Pittsburgh diocese acknowledged to the Post Thursday night that Wuerl knew and informed the Vatican, the news outlet’s report said. The dioceses said they were trying to protect Ciolek’s confidentiality in not going public with the information that Wuerl knew of McCarrick's history of abuse.

Ciolek dismissed the confidentiality element, telling the Post, “There was nothing that precluded them from talking to anyone” about his case. “Wuerl at worst could have said: ‘I am aware but I can’t name that person.’”

The full letter of Donald Cardinal Wuerl below: 


Archdiocese of Washington

January 12, 2019

Dear Brother Priest,

Since June 20 of last year, we have all been caught up in the painful revelation of the allegation brought against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of sexual abuse of a minor in New York some 40 years ago. I know this has been disruptive in your ministry and difficult for you personally. My remarks are not intended as a self-defense but as a way to share some thoughts personally with you.

A number of questions have also arisen concerning the alleged conduct of Archbishop McCarrick and how he was promoted to Archbishop of Newark in 1986, then to Archbishop of Washington in 2000, and named a cardinal in 2001.

As part of the investigation into these questions the Archdiocese of Washington involved an independent third party to review all the archdiocesan files, interview those responsible with the oversight of our priest formation program, those serving in our Clergy Office, in our Child Protection Office and on the Archdiocesan Review Board, made up almost entirely of qualified lay persons.

The report at the conclusion of this review confirms that in the years including the tenure of then-Cardinal McCarrick up to the June 2018 allegation, the Archdiocese received no allegation of any type of sexual abuse – of minors or adults – involving Archbishop McCarrick. There is no record of allegations or even rumors of sexual misconduct with minors.

The question “How was Archbishop McCarrick promoted if there was evidence of abusive behavior in his background?” is now being addressed in Rome by the appropriate authorities. The review of the archdiocesan files constitute our contribution to the investigation.

In 2004 a former priest from the Diocese of Metuchen brought to the Diocese of Pittsburgh an allegation against one of its priests who also taught at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, asserting that over a significant length of time he was sexually abused as an adult while studying at the seminary. At the conclusion of the report, the man also alleged what he describes as “inappropriate conduct” by then-Bishop McCarrick. The man asked for confidentiality to protect his own name.

These allegations resulted in the removal from ministry of the priest charged with the abusive relationship. The entire report was also immediately turned over to the Apostolic Nuncio – the Papal Representative in the U.S. Having acted responsibly with the allegation involving Bishop McCarrick's behavior with an adult and hearing nothing more on the matter I did not avert to this again.

Fourteen years later, when the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was brought against Archbishop McCarrick, I stated publicly that I was never aware of any such allegation or rumors. This assertion was in the context of the charges of sexual abuse of minors, which at the time was the focus of discussion and media attention.

While one may interpret my statement in a different context, the discussion around and adjudication of Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior concern his abuse of minors.

I share this information again with you trusting in your understanding. 

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Donald Cardinal Wuerl 

Apostolic Administrator

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