WASHINGTON, D.C., July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew nothing of the abuse settlements paid to sex abuse victims of his predecessor Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, according to a letter sent to priests of the Archdiocese of Washington.
The letter, which came from Archdiocesan Vicar General Monsignor Charles Antonicelli, informed priests in the Archdiocese: “Neither the Archdiocese of Washington nor Cardinal Wuerl knew about these confidential settlements until this most recent credible and substantiated allegation against Cardinal McCarrick was made public.”
Antonicelli was McCarrick’s secretary when the cardinal was the Archbishop of Washington.
These settlements, for $100,000 and $80,000, were paid by the Dioceses of Trenton, Metuchen, and Newark in 2004 and 2006 to two men who had been abused by McCarrick while they were in the seminary as well as after they had become priests. McCarrick, known for being left-wing and supporting the distribution of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, was installed as Archbishop of Washington at the beginning of 2001. He retired in 2006; Wuerl succeeded him.
“For clarity, the Archdiocese of Washington did not participate in, make any contributions to, nor was involved in any way with these settlement agreements,” wrote Antonicelli. He said the Archdiocese of Washington found out about these settlements – which occurred when McCarrick was its leader – the same way as the public did, via recent media reports.
Since McCarrick was removed from public ministry over a credible allegation he molested an altar boy 50 years ago, whistleblowers and victims have come forward to describe McCarrick’s predatory behavior and the disregard they received from Church officials when reporting it.
Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals this weekend. On Saturday morning, the Vatican issued a short statement that McCarrick would stay at an undisclosed location and live “a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”
Julia Duin at Get Religion wrote that she found Wuerl’s statement to local station WTOP in reaction to McCarrick’s resignation suspicious.
Wuerl told WTOP: “I think this was a big step forward in trying to act quickly, decisively, even though the whole procedure isn’t concluded yet. The pope is saying that we need to show that we are hearing these things, paying attention and acting.”
“Oddly, I could not find any video of Wuerl’s remarks on WTOP’s site, so I could not tell if he answered all the questions he was asked or whether he dodged any,” Duin wrote.
WTOP reported that Wuerl said he had “never been approached with allegations of abuse by McCarrick and was unaware of the rumors that have been associated with his predecessor.”
“What? Seriously? I can’t believe any reporter let him get away with that statement,” Duin continued. “This mess has been going on for more than a month and Cardinal Wuerl has yet to give a press conference about it. History's being made here and Wuerl's now camera shy?”
“I can possibly buy the first part of that sentence in that the dioceses that were approached were Metuchen and Newark. McCarrick hopefully ceased his sexual activity after becoming archbishop of Washington in 2000,” Duin allowed. “But the second part? That he didn’t know what the rumors were? He didn't know about any financial settlements? And ‘abuse of a minor’? How about the reports about the abuse of seminarians?”
She expressed doubt that Wuerl had never heard any rumors of McCarrick assaulting or harassing seminarians:
Reporters must not give Wuerl a pass on this. I can understand how maybe, just maybe in 2006, when he was made archbishop of Washington, he might not have known the specifics on McCarrick. But not knowing the rumors after 12 years? This is a man who's known as a power player in the Vatican. You think the folks over there just forgot to tell him about McCarrick?
One also wonders whether when Wuerl took office, any of the New Jersey bishops who had to shell out money to McCarrick’s victims warned Wuerl of the liability his predecessor posed.
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, appointed by Pope Francis to run a new commission on child sex abuse, also says he didn’t know about allegations against McCarrick even though a priest sent him a letter about it in 2015.
“Recent media reports also have referenced a letter sent to me from Rev. Boniface Ramsey, O.P. in June of 2015, which I did not personally receive,” O’Malley wrote in the Boston Pilot. “In keeping with the practice for matters concerning the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, at the staff level the letter was reviewed and determined that the matters presented did not fall under the purview of the Commission or the Archdiocese of Boston, which was shared with Fr. Ramsey in reply.”
The Archdiocese of Boston has strict mandatory reporting policies when it comes child abuse, but those apparently do not compel clergy to report allegations against senior church officials outside the diocese. O’Malley’s statement did not indicate that his secretary, Father Robert Kickham, who responded to Ramsey’s letter, did anything beyond telling the fellow priest that the matter was not under their “purview.”
McCarrick reportedly lived on the grounds of a seminary during retirement. Allowing the cardinal to be in such a close proximity to young men actually seems consistent with the Archdiocese’s claim to not have known about his proclivities. However, as Duin pointed out in an earlier piece:
I covered the Pope Benedict’s 2008 visit to Washington, D.C. (and other cities) and I remember McCarrick was sidelined during those festivities. Rumor was that he was not happy about being deprived of a bigger role.
Look for this fact: Whose idea was it to take McCarrick down a peg, especially since McCarrick has always been a key source for national media?
Despite the statements from Wuerl and O’Malley, there are more questions than answers about who knew of McCarrick’s abuse, when they knew, and why they remained silent.
That McCarrick’s former secretary Antonicelli, now Washington’s Vicar General, is the one insisting of the archdiocese’s ignorance will almost certainly raise even more questions.