VATICAN CITY — In an explosive report that calls into question the decision-making of three Catholic popes, the Vatican has revealed a series of institutional failures that led to the repeated promotion of now disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite rumors of his alleged sexual misconduct with young men as early as the 1990s.
The Vatican places an abundance of responsibility on Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick as archbishop of Washington in 2000 and made him a cardinal in 2001.
The report reveals that the late pontiff, now a Catholic saint, made those appointments despite being warned in 1999 by then-New York Cardinal John O’Connor that McCarrick had been the subject of anonymous allegations and was known to invite seminarians to sleep in the same bed as him.
The executive summary of the expansive 450-page text suggests that John Paul may have been blinded by his own prior friendship with McCarrick in the 1970s, and by his experience in communist Poland, where authorities would sometimes level false accusations against bishops in order to try and damage the church’s reputation.
“Though there is no direct evidence, it appears likely from the information obtained that John Paul II’s past experience in Poland regarding the use of spurious allegations against bishops to degrade the standing of the Church played a role in his willingness to believe McCarrick’s denials,” says the summary.
Beyond the Vatican, the text also places substantial blame at the feet of four Catholic bishops with ties to New Jersey, where McCarrick had been serving as Archbishop of Newark before being named to Washington.
It says the four bishops were asked in June 2000 about the allegations against McCarrick. Although the summary of does not name the prelates, the full report does: James McHugh, Vincent Breen, Edward Hughes, and John M. Smith.
“What is now known … is that three of the four American bishops provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the Holy See regarding McCarrick’s sexual conduct with young adults,” states the report’s summary. “This inaccurate information appears likely to have impacted the conclusions of John Paul II’s advisors and, consequently, of John Paul II himself.”
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Source: National Catholic Reporter