U.S. Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew about the abuse allegations against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick much earlier than he had publicly acknowledged. The Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where Wuerl worked, confirmed this.
Research to that effect was reported by The Washington Post on Thursday evening. According to the report, Wuerl reported allegations against the prominent cardinal to the Vatican as early as 2004. A concerned party who had been compensated for seminary sexual misconduct by McCarrick had pointed the newspaper to a document obtained by the Pittsburgh diocese that proved Wuerl's knowledge.
Wuerl denied allegations
A Pennsylvania state grand jury last year faulted the diocese for not doing enough, even during Wuerl's tenure, to address abuse and sexual assault cases and remove affected clergy from office.
Wuerl had repeatedly denied knowing anything about allegations against his predecessor in Washington, Theodore McCarrick, 88, before his retirement last fall. Addressing the allegations against the prominent cardinal, the 78-year-old had said in a statement that he had "not heard of it in my years here in Washington and even before that".
The McCarrick case plunged the U.S. Catholic Church into a severe credibility crisis that is now deepened by the revelations. Further reports from The Washington Post that the Vatican plans to remove McCarrick from the priesthood in the near future have not yet been confirmed.
McCarrick dismissed from cardinal's post
Pope Francis had dismissed Theodore McCarrick, 88, from the cardinalate in late July 2018. Since then he has lived in seclusion in a Capuchin monastery in the US state of Kansas. He had previously been accused of abuse of minors in the 1970s.
What is disputed is what was known at the Vatican about McCarrick's sexual dealings with theology students in earlier years. Prior to his time as archbishop of Washington (2001 – 2006), he allegedly seduced numerous adult candidates for the priesthood into sex.
Ex-Vatican diplomat Carlo Maria Vigano had accused Pope Francis and several cardinals of entrusting McCarrick with important duties despite his past record. Francis has ordered a thorough investigation into the case.