An allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., has been found credible and substantiated.
The allegation, which dates back over 45 years, came during Cardinal McCarrick’s tenure as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Dolan said in a statement released on the archdiocesan website June 20.
Cardinal McCarrick becomes the first U.S. cardinal to have a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor leveled against him.
The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is no longer to publicly exercise his priestly ministry.
The 87-year-old cardinal, while maintaining his innocence, has accepted the decision.
“While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people,” Cardinal McCarrick said in a statement released June 20.
The allegation came to the Archdiocese of New York through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which was established by the archdiocese two years ago in its efforts to renew contrition to those who suffered sexual abuse as a minor by a priest or deacon of the archdiocese, and to bring healing, resolution and compensation to victim-survivors.
Out of respect for the privacy of the victim, no specific details about the allegation have been released. The victim may choose to speak about any aspect of the case.
Cardinal Dolan, as the archbishop of the archdiocese where the alleged abuse occurred, was delegated by the Holy See to investigate the matter. Since the allegation involved a cardinal, the archdiocese contacted the Holy See, which has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal.
The allegation was turned over to law enforcement officials and investigated by an independent forensics agency, according to the terms of the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
According to Cardinal Dolan’s statement on the archdiocesan website, 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 review board found the allegations credible and substantiated.
“This archdiocese, while saddened and shocked, asks prayers for all involved, and renews its apology to all victims abused by priests,” said Cardinal Dolan in his statement.
“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 substantiated allegation, Cardinal Dolan added, was “the first such report of a violation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People ever made against (Cardinal McCarrick) of which the archdiocese was aware.”
A statement released by Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, said that although the Archdiocese of Newark has never received an accusation that Cardinal McCarrick abused a minor, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults. “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 Tobin said.
“Cardinal McCarrick served this Archdiocese for almost 15 years. No doubt many of you developed strong relationships with him and appreciate the impact of his service. Those feelings are likely hard to reconcile with the news of a credible and substantiated claim of abuse of a minor,” Cardinal Tobin said.
“While Cardinal McCarrick maintains his innocence and the canonical process continues, we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth.”
Cardinal McCarrick served as Archbishop of Washington from 2001 until his retirement in 2006, when Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation at age 75, the normal retirement age for bishops. He was elevated to cardinal in 2001.
From 1986 to 2000, Cardinal McCarrick served as Archbishop of Newark. In 1981, he was appointed the first Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J.
Cardinal McCarrick served for 23 years as a priest and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New York. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1958, his assignments as a New York priest included serving as assistant chaplain, dean and director of development at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., 1958-1965; president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce, 1965-1969; associate secretary for education in the archdiocese and parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament parish, Manhattan, 1969-1971. He was priest secretary to Cardinal Terence Cooke, 1971-1977, and served as an auxiliary bishop of New York, 1977-1981.
A native New Yorker, he grew up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.