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