VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Newly released letters vindicate Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, proving that Pope Benedict imposed restrictions on Theodore McCarrick and that Cdl. Donald Wuerl knew of these restrictions, in spite of his claims to the contrary. They also prove that McCarrick ignored those restrictions.
Correspondence published Tuesday by Msgr. Anthony J. Figueiredo, former personal secretary to McCarrick when he served as head of the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, detail the extent of the penalties imposed by Benedict.
"After long consideration, I have made the decision to place in the public domain some of the correspondence and other information related to McCarrick that I possess in my many years of service to him," Figueiredo wrote. "My decision follows attempts since September 2018 to share and discuss these with the Holy See and other Church leaders."
Figueiredo clarifies that the "documents used in this report have been vetted for their authenticity by lawyers and journalists."
An Aug. 25, 2008 letter from McCarrick to then-papal nuncio Abp. Pietro Sambi, reveal McCarrick's acknowledgment of the restrictions imposed on him:
However, having studied the letter of Cardinal Re and having shared it with my Archbishop, I pledge again that I shall always try to be a good servant of the Church even if I do not understand its desires in my life. Of course, I am ready to accept the Holy Father’s will in my regard.
I could find a place to live in one of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Washington. The Archbishop is willing to arrange for that in any area that the Holy See would desire.
In summary, in the future I will make no commitments to accept any public appearances or talks without the express permission of the Apostolic Nuncio or the Holy See itself.
At the time, McCarrick's archbishop was Wuerl; thus his comment that he had "shared it [the letter] with my Archbishop" proves Wuerl was made aware of the restrictions imposed on McCarrick.
This contradicts Wuerl's public statements from last year, in which Washington, D.C. archdiocesan spokesman Ed McFadden told Catholic News Agency, "Cardinal Wuerl did not receive documentation or information from the Holy See specific to Cardinal McCarrick's behavior or any of the prohibitions on his life and ministry suggested by Archbishop Vigano."
Vigano himself called out Wuerl in his August 2018 testimony, accusing him of lying, saying that his "recent statements that he knew nothing about it, even though at first he cunningly referred to compensation for the two victims, are absolutely laughable. The Cardinal lies shamelessly."
A Sept. 1, 2008 letter from McCarrick sent to Cdl. Tarcisio Bertone, then-Vatican Secretary of State, and translated by Figueiredo, shows McCarrick acknowledging his habit of sharing a bed with other men.
I have always considered my priests and seminarians as part of my family, and just as I have shared a bed with my cousins and uncles and other relatives without thinking of it being wrong, I had done this on occasion when the Diocesan Summer House was overcrowded. In no case were there minors involved, but men in their twenties and thirties.
He denies any wrongdoing.
"I have never had sexual relations with anyone, man, woman or child, nor have I ever sought such acts," McCarrick claimed in the letter — claims that have since been proven to be false, in light of James Greins' testimony of decades-long physical and spiritual abuse at the hands of McCarrick, as well as the allegation from a former alter server, whose claim led to McCarrick's suspension and laicization.
"I have replied to the Cardinal's directive by suggesting ways in which I can be less public a figure," McCarrick continues.
An Oct. 7, 2008 email from McCarrick to Figueiredo further clarifies his restrictions:
Cardinal Re has approved my moving to a parish and my Archbishop has been great in beginning to work that out.
I've agreed to make no public appearances either here or abroad without his permission and resign from all Roman and USCCB entities.
[Cardinal Re] has forbidden me to come to Rome.
A follow-up email from McCarrick two days later confirms: "I have sent the copy directly to Archbishop Wuerl."
Further correspondence proves that McCarrick ignored the restrictions, traveling freely under the reign of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, as early as 2009 and through 2017, although travel seems to have increased under Francis. These travels include trips to "Mainland China, Central Asia, Cyprus, the Balkans, the Middle East, Lebanon, the Holy Land, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, and the Philippines."
"I have been traveling a good deal, perhaps more than I should, during these last few weeks … Cyprus … the Balkans … the Middle East, both in Lebanon and in the Holy Land," McCarrick wries in a letter to Pope Francis on Nov. 24, 2013. "[L]ast week I had the great privilege of going to the Philippines."
The letters prove McCarrick suspended his travel to China for about five years under Benedict, but resumed them in force under Francis. In light of reports that McCarrick was the architect of last year's Vatican-China accord, which has proven disastrous for the underground Church, it's noteworthy that McCarrick expresses his wish to Pope Francis to bring him China.
"With God's help, before He calls me home, I will help to bring you China and the great dream of Matteo Ricci will begin to be realized once again," McCarrick wrote in a Sept. 30, 2015 letter to Pope Francis.
He reveals in a Feb. 9, 2016 letter further reasons for visiting China: "The reason for the China trip was an invitation by the son of a former Communist Party General Secretary who is still very close to [President] Xi."
After further voluminous documentation of McCarrick's travels, including his interaction with current papal nuncio Abp. Christophe Pierre and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Figueiredo concludes with a warning.
It is clear that for far too long, a culture has existed in the Church that allowed those like McCarrick to continue their public activity after serious and even settled allegations had come to the attention of Church leaders. Moreover, it is all too evident that Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops — in their cover up — until quite recently have enjoyed the propitious benefit of a more "forgiving" and "lenient" standard of evaluation as compared to those applied to lower ranking clerics and religious. A double standard and non-independent accountability harm the credibility of Church leadership and impede efforts to reestablish fundamental trust in the Catholic clergy.
The saddening nature of the allegations against McCarrick, as well as the silence by Church leaders who ignored or enabled his actions, illustrates anew the moral imperative to all people of good will, and especially leaders of the Church, to address and inform all appropriate persons of this type of behavior at the earliest opportunity, first and foremost for the safety of minors and vulnerable persons, and ultimately for the salvation of every soul. For this very purpose, Jesus Christ came into the world.