Former aide details how McCarrick ignored Benedict’s sanctions, met with Francis
May 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Today, in a historic move, Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo — a long-term aide of then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick in the U.S. and later in Rome — published excerpts of McCarrick’s correspondence over the years 2008–2017. In various letters, it becomes clear that under Pope Benedict XVI, McCarrick was told to live a private life away from “any public appearances or talks,” not to visit Rome, and to change his residence.
The correspondence also makes it clear that Cardinal Donald Wuerl — then the archbishop of Washington, D.C. — was informed about the restrictions and was intimately involved in some of the practical matters pertaining to them, such as a change of residence.
The Catholic news site Crux reached out to Cardinal Wuerl’s office and received the following comment: “Cardinal Wuerl has previously stated — and he reiterates it again — that he was not aware of any imposition of sanctions or restrictions related to any claim of abuse or inappropriate activity by Theodore McCarrick.”
Monsignor Figueiredo’s revelations also show that McCarrick defied Benedict’s restrictions while under Benedict’s reign and then, under Pope Francis, had numerous missions “on behalf of the Church.” Additionally, he kept writing letters to Pope Francis so as to inform him about his various travels, for example to China.
Concerning his role with regard to China, Crux comments: “Although nothing in the emails and letter examined by Crux directly proves that McCarrick had a hand in a controversial September 2018 deal between Beijing and Rome over the appointments of bishops, the record is nevertheless suggestive.”
The report reveals that McCarrick denied having had any sexual relations with minors or adults.
Various letters show that several high-ranking prelates in Rome and Washington, D.C. were informed of the private restrictions placed on McCarrick.
Crux, together with CBS, was the first to report on the Figueiredo report.
Monsignor Figueiredo, a priest from Great Britain who lives in Rome, is incardinated in the U.S. diocese of Newark, New Jersey. He says he feels “encouraged by the Holy Father’s motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi,” which encourages people to report sexual abuse, even if revealing matters of confidentiality thereby, and puts those who reveal abuse under special protection.
“It is my firm hope that this information will help the Church as she further endeavors to create a culture of transparency.”
Figueiredo was ordained by McCarrick in 1994, was his personal secretary in 1994–1995, and was later his aide for 19 years while residing in Rome. He translated letters for McCarrick and delivered personal letters to different high-ranking members of the Vatican.
As Figueiredo shows, McCarrick never stopped traveling to Rome for visits in spite of the restrictions placed upon him by Pope Benedict. As Figueiredo writes in his report: “As a priest ordained by then Archbishop McCarrick and one who served him closely, I reflect upon how much damage to the physical, psychological and spiritual lives of so many might have been avoided had the restrictions been made public and enforced as soon as they were imposed.”
The Figueiredo report is divided into two parts. First, it deals with the restrictions placed upon McCarrick, and then it shows how much he ignored these restrictions.
As becomes clear, it was Cardinal Battista Re, then the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who, in 2008, informed McCarrick about the private restrictions. In an August 25, 2008 letter to Archbishop Pietro Sambi — then the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C. — McCarrick acknowledges the instructions and says about Cardinal Wuerl: “I could find a place to live in one of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Washington. The Archbishop [Wuerl] is willing to arrange for that in any area that the Holy See would desire.”
“In summary,” he continues, “in the future, I will make no commitments to accept any public appearances or talks without the express permission of the Apostolic Nuncio or the Holy See itself.”
According to the draft of a September 1 letter to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone — about which Monsignor Figueiredo does not know whether it ever reached its destination — McCarrick claims his innocence concerning the accusations against him. He merely accuses himself of a “lack of judgment” with regard to sleeping in the same bed with priests and seminarians. “In no case were there minors involved, but men in their twenties and thirties,” he states. “I have never had sexual relations with anyone, man, woman or child, nor have I ever sought such acts.”
In the same letter, he acknowledges that “I can be less public a figure,” thus once more indicating the nature of the restrictions.
In an email to Monsignor Figueiredo in October 2008, McCarrick tells his aide that he has received permission from Rome to move “to a parish, and my Archbishop has been great in beginning to work that out.” He also agreed to “resign from all Roman and USCCB entities,” adding that he has been forbidden by Cardinal Re “to come to Rome.”
As sources have told LifeSiteNews, this was never the case. “McCarrick never stopped traveling and coming to Rome,” one well informed source in Rome said. McCarrick would stay in the North American College in Rome and continue his work relationships with numerous high-ranking prelates in the Vatican.
This also can be seen in the second part of the Figueiredo report. It states: “Since the restrictions imposed were not made public and despite McCarrick’s promises, he continued his public ministry, including taking a highly visible role, interacting with high-ranking Vatican officials (including Cardinals Sodano and Bertone and heads of dicasteries), public officials in the United States and around the globe.”
For example, McCarrick in 2009 came to Rome for an APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See) meeting. In 2010, he wrote to Monsignor Figueiredo that he had seen “the Holy Father after more than two years.” In 2012, he traveled on behalf of Catholic Relief Services to Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as to Ireland to the International Eucharistic Congress.
As Monsignor Figueiredo is able to show, “without any sense of the lifting of the restrictions, McCarrick continues his foreign travel after the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013.”
Always in touch with then-archbishop Pietro Parolin — Pope Francis’s secretary of state — McCarrick traveled to China, Central Asia, the Balkans, the Middle East, Lebanon, the Holy Land, and many more places. He continually wrote letters to Pope Francis, informing him of his initiatives.
For example, on November 24, 2013, not long after Francis’s election, McCarrick told him: “I have put off my return trip to China and will make sure that I speak to Archbishop Parolin before I go the next time.”
He mentions also in his letters his collaboration with “Cardinal Tauran who is a dear friend and a very wise counsellor.” “I always feel better,” McCarrick wrote to Pope Francis in January of 2016, “if I know that You are aware of what I am trying to do.”
Two major projects were close to McCarrick’s heart in this time: relations with Muslims and China. He wrote on March 23, 2016 to Monsignor Figueiredo: “My visit [to Rome] was so very helpful and it looks as if two projects — China and Islam — continue to move forward slowly.” He added that “I will try to be in contact with Cardinal Turkson and Cardinal Parolin to check on the progress of the planned meeting with the Chinese.”
Archbishop Peter Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, was also one of McCarrick’s close collaborators at that time. This prelate had “a bit about the idea of a special study group that might discuss the problems of the Middle East, even as the China group does now,” according to an email to Figueiredo dated November 21, 2014.
McCarrick even met with the Pope in person. On February 11, 2016, McCarrick told Monsignor Figueiredo that Pope Francis wished to meet him. “I just received a note from the Nuncio enclosing a message he had received from the Substitute to me indicating that the Holy Father would receive me when I come to Rome,” he wrote.
Thus are the important revelations by Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, who, according to his own witness, has been greatly damaged by his collaboration with McCarrick, “seeking consolation in alcohol.” In 2018, he had a car accident while under the influence, in which a pregnant woman was involved. On his new website, he invites others who have similar problems due to the culture of sexual abuse and cover-up of abuse to contact him.
LifeSiteNews reached out to Monsignor Figueiredo for further comment, but he declined, saying, “Thank you for your response and request regarding ‘The Figueiredo Report’. Further comments and interviews are not being given for now as the Report stands for itself, based on facts and the authentication of the correspondence.”