WASHINGTON — Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, stated June 20 he will no longer exercise any public ministry “in obedience” to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.
“While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence,” Cardinal McCarrick wrote in his statement, “I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York. I fully cooperated in the process.”
Cardinal McCarrick stated that “some months ago” he was informed of the allegation by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.
“My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible and substantiated,” Cardinal McCarrick stated.
Cardinal Dolan, in a June 20 statement, wrote that it was “the first such report of a violation” against Cardinal McCarrick “of which the archdiocese was aware.”
In separate statements, Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, New Jersey — where Cardinal McCarrick served as its first bishop — and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey — where Cardinal McCarrick served prior to his appointment to Washington — wrote this was their first notice that Cardinal McCarrick had been accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
“In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults,” Cardinal Tobin stated. “This archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.”
Cardinal McCarrick, who turns 88 on July 7, was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese in 1958. He was ordained auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977, six years after the alleged incident of abuse is believed to have occurred.
He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001. He was made a cardinal Feb. 21, 2001, and retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese May 16, 2006.
Cardinal Dolan stated the alleged abuse occurred during the time Cardinal McCarrick served as an archdiocesan priest in New York.
He added the allegation was turned over to law enforcement officials, and was then thoroughly investigated by an independent forensic agency, as per the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” first approved by the U.S. bishops in 2002.
“The Holy See was alerted as well, and encouraged us to continue the process,” he added. “Again according to our public protocol, the results of the investigation were then given to the Archdiocesan Review Board, a seasoned group of professionals including jurists, law enforcement experts, parents, psychologists, a priest and a religious sister.”
The Archdiocese of New York “renews its apology to all victims abused by priests,” Cardinal Dolan stated. “We also thank the victim for courage in coming forward and participating in our independent reconciliation and compensation program, as we hope this can bring a sense of resolution and fairness.”
The Archdiocese of Washington wrote June 20 that “the Holy See … has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal” and referred the matter to the New York Archdiocese.
It added the instruction for Cardinal McCarrick to refrain from exercising public ministry came “at the direction of our Holy Father, Pope Francis,” and was delivered by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.
“The abuse of anyone who is vulnerable is both shameful and horrific. The abuse of a minor by a priest — as is being reported in this case from New York — is an abomination and sickens and saddens us all,” Bishop Checchio stated.
Cardinals Dolan, Tobin and Wuerl and Bishop Checchio all asked for prayers for those involved, and recommitted themselves to support of clergy sexual abuse victims.