WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Donald Wuerl is refusing to apologize after having been caught deceiving Catholics about his knowledge of Abp. Theodore McCarrick's sexual predation.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Wuerl, as bishop of Pittsburgh, was made aware of a claim of sexual misconduct against McCarrick in 2004, and passed along the information to then-Vatican ambassador Gabriel Montalvo. Both the Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. dioceses have confirmed this.
The news has generated further backlash against Wuerl, who resigned in disgrace in October after months of withering criticism, in part owing to Wuerl's repeated protestations that he knew nothing about McCarrick's notorious sexual misconduct.
In a Jan. 12 letter to clergy acquired by LifeSiteNews, Wuerl claims that any denials of knowledge of McCarrick's crimes referred specifically to his crimes with minors, not with adults.
"While one may interpret my statement in a different context," Wuerl wrote, "the discussion around and adjudication of Archbishop McCarrick's behavior concern his abuse of minors."
But this contradicts a claim he made to CBS News reporter Nicki Battiste, where she asked him directly whether Wuerl had heard rumors of McCarrick's misconduct with priests (not minors).
"No, no," Wuerl answered at the time.
"My remarks are not intended as a self-defense but as a way to share some thoughts personally with you," Wuerl explains in his Jan. 12 letter.
He says that the archdiocese, where McCarrick served as archbishop from 2000–2006, "received no allegation of any type of sexual abuse — of minors or adults" involving McCarrick.
"The question 'How was Archbishop McCarrick promoted if there was evidence of abusive behavior in his background?' is now being addressed in Rome by the appropriate authorities," Wuerl continues.
Church Militant broke the news earlier this month that Vatican investigators have concluded that the altar boy's claims against McCarrick are not credible, claiming that under the current code of canon law, he was not technically a minor at the time of abuse (16 is the age of consent). In addition, the investigators concluded that the altar boy's claim lacked credibility because he sought out McCarrick at the Christmas Mass where the abuse took place — even though the boy did not seek him out for sexual contact.
The report provoked outrage and frustration from Catholics, who viewed the result as further evidence the Vatican is not serious about the McCarrick investigation.
In addition to a petition to have Wuerl removed from public ministry and calls for Wuerl to be removed from the College of Cardinals, once-friendly secular news outfits have turned against Wuerl, slamming him for his dishonesty.
In an article published Monday titled "Cardinal Wuerl Knew About Theodore McCarrick. And He Lied About It," the editorial board of The Washington Post issued a blistering critique of the archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., noting that his attempts to justify his "imprecise" statements about McCarrick ring hollow.
In fact, the cardinal's comments last summer were unequivocal. In response to a broad question about "long-standing rumors or innuendos" posed by a reporter for the archdiocesan newspaper Catholic Standard, he said, "I had not heard them" before or during his tenure in Washington. That was untrue.
The Post also did not spare Pope Francis.
"Pope Francis himself has displayed a gaping blind spot on the issue of clergy sex abuse," the editors wrote, "at times condemning it and taking resolute action, at other times directing contempt and lip service at victims."
The pontiff has remained silent so far on Wuerl.