WASHINGTON, D.C., January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Newly released information in the Catholic Church’s clergy sex abuse scandal shows that Washington D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl was deceitful about his knowledge of sex abuse allegations against disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick – also further vindicating the testimony from former Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò on who knew about McCarrick.
Viganò in his original August 2018 testimony had called Wuerl a liar for denying knowledge of McCarrick's abuse.
“I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions, and I certainly didn’t need to go into detail because it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it,” stated Viganò. “The Cardinal’s “recent statements that he knew nothing about it … are absolutely laughable. He lies shamelessly.”
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.
Soon after news broke June 20 of McCarrick’s removal from public ministry for credible and substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor, a number of journalists who’d tried to report on this in the past recounted how McCarrick’s abuse had been a widely-known “secret” for years among journalists and in the Church, and that even Rome had been made aware.
At the time, the allegations were limited to a five-decades-old accusation of abuse of a minor when McCarrick was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, which also brought about revelations of three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago in the Diocese of Metuchen, where McCarrick was bishop from 1982 to 1986, and the Archdiocese of Newark, where he was archbishop from 1986 to 2000, two of those allegations resulting in settlements.
McCarrick was ordained in 1958 for the New York archdiocese, where he became an auxiliary bishop in 1977. He was archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006, and was elevated to cardinal in February 2001.
Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinal July 28 of last year amid the flood of allegations against him. McCarrick has since been living in a friary in Kansas, in proximity to elementary and high schools.
He is currently undergoing an “administrative penal process” for multiple canonical charges of sexual misconduct and abuse involving both minors and adults, which include solicitation in the confessional. A decision from the process is expected prior to the pope’s abuse summit in Rome next month.
Wuerl's duplicitous statement on McCarrick
Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor in Washington, made a statement June 21, the day following the initial allegation of abuse of a minor by McCarrick surfaced, the wording of which pertained 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 similar to that of New York’s 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.
He 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, 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 had 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 had viewed the document in December.
Wuerl has continually rejected accusations that he had any involvement in the McCarrick matter.
Both the Archdiocese of Washington archdiocese 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.
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 Diocese of Pittsburgh sent LifeSiteNews a statement saying it has cooperated with Ciolek to the greatest extent possible.
The statement said:
The Diocese of Pittsburgh learned in August 2004 that the Diocese of Metuchen was in mediation with Mr. Ciolek regarding abuse by a high school teacher of that diocese. During this mediation he also informed the Diocese of Metuchen of abuse by a Pittsburgh priest. Mr. Ciolek was an adult seminarian when this abuse occurred. In July 2018 the Diocese of Pittsburgh learned that it was included in a settlement agreement with four other dioceses, including the Diocese of Metuchen. Prior to July 2018, the Diocese of Pittsburgh had not previously received a copy of the agreement. We were not a party to that agreement and we were not aware that the Diocese of Pittsburgh was mentioned in that agreement.
In November 2004, Mr. Ciolek appeared before the Independent Review Board of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to report the details of the allegation of abuse he made against the Pittsburgh priest. When he appeared before the Independent Review Board Mr. Ciolek also spoke of his abuse by then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. This was the first time the Diocese of Pittsburgh learned of this allegation. In written correspondence to the Diocese of Pittsburgh immediately thereafter, Mr. Ciolek asked that the allegation regarding then-Cardinal McCarrick be shared only with ecclesiastical – that is – Church authorities. A few days later, then-Bishop Donald Wuerl made a report of the allegation to the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Since this time, the Diocese of Pittsburgh continued to respect Mr. Ciolek’s wishes that this information only be shared with Church authorities. In November 2018 Mr. Ciolek authorized the Diocese of Pittsburgh to respond to press inquiries about this matter.
In December 2018, Mr. Ciolek traveled to Pittsburgh to review documents regarding his participation in the Independent Review Board of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. At that time, Mr. Ciolek informed the Diocese of Pittsburgh that he intended to continue his investigation. Yesterday, he informed us that he would reach out to the press.
LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the Archdiocese of Washington by press time.
Aside from the June 21 statement that solely concerned Wuerl’s time in Washington, Wuerl feigned having no knowledge of McCarrick’s abuse in a July 31 interview with the archdiocesan newspaper Catholic Standard.
The Standard had asked Wuerl about “numerous stories or blog posts that repeated long-standing rumors or innuendos that may be out there regarding Archbishop McCarrick.”
“In the past month, I have seen some of those new public reports,” Wuerl responded. “But in my years here in Washington and even before that, I had not heard them. With rumors — especially old rumors going back 30, 40, even 50 years — there is not much we can do unless people come forward to share what they know or what they experienced.”
Wuerl did not mean “to be imprecise” with his public statements, said the Washington Archdiocese in a statement to the Post.
“Furthermore, Cardinal Wuerl has attempted to be accurate in addressing questions about Archbishop McCarrick. His statements previously referred to claims of sexual abuse of a minor by Archbishop McCarrick, as well as rumors of such behavior.”
Ciolek provided the documents to the Post after repeated requests to meet with Wuerl and being refused.
Ciolek’s allegations included abuse at a Catholic high school and as a seminarian in New Jersey, and then again in seminary by a Pittsburgh priest, hence the reason the McCarrick matter came before the Pittsburgh review board and Wuerl.
A Washington archdiocese spokesman had told the Post last fall in response to questions that Wuerl did not know “about the settlement.” This led Ciolek to request a copy of the testimony he’d given the Pittsburgh review board in his case in 2004. Ciolek also asked what else was in the file, which led to discovery of Wuerl having communicated the McCarrick allegations to the papal nuncio.
Ciolek praised Wuerl for taking the McCarrick report to Rome, the Post said, though he criticized Wuerl’s denial of his knowledge of the sex abuse allegations against the former cardinal.
“Reading the document, I felt Wuerl did the right thing,” Ciolek said. “But that good feeling of what he had done has been overshadowed completely by his lying about his knowledge of that.”
The news that Wuerl did know about sexual abuse allegations against McCarrick also confirms charges from former Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who’d said in his August testimony that he raised the issue of McCarrick with Wuerl more than once, and Wuerl was clearly aware of McCarrick’s abuse.
“He lies shamelessly,” wrote Viganò.
“Cardinal Wuerl, well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick and the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict, transgressing the Pope’s order, also allowed him to reside at a seminary in Washington D.C.,” Vigano stated as well. “In doing so, he put other seminarians at risk.”
The Vigano testimony, also implicating Francis and other senior prelates in covering for McCarrick, has yet to be refuted.
Lay Catholics remain angry over Church leadership’s handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal.
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