The cardinal who knew — and said nothing

What did Donald Cardinal Weurl, Washington’s retired archbishop, find out about his pervy predecessor, the ex-cardinal Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick, and when did he understand it? That query has agitated American Catholics ever since McCarrick’s depredations got here to mild final summer season.

Well, now we have now a solution: Wuerl knew far more than he first let on. In reality, Wuerl was conscious of allegations of McCarrick’s predatory ­habits going again not less than 15 years, and he misled the Catholic trustworthy within the capital and throughout the nation as a substitute of talking with the honesty ­required of a disciple of Jesus.

That’s in response to the Catholic News Agency, which first reported Thursday’s bombshell assertion from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the place Wuerl was bishop from 1998 to 2006, earlier than he was appointed to Washington.

In 2004, Pittsburgh’s diocesan ­assessment board heard an allegation about McCarrick’s misconduct with seminarians. The allegation made its method to then-Bishop Wuerl’s desk, who, in flip, “made a report of the allegation” to the Vatican’s embassy in Washington inside days.

The Pittsburgh diocese didn’t ­supply particulars. But CNA’s reporters collect they concern “behavior by McCarrick at his New Jersey beach house, where the archbishop is ­alleged to have shared beds with seminarians, and exchanged backrubs with them.”

Back in July, when McCarrick was first unmasked as a collared predator of boys and younger males, Wuerl insisted he knew nothing. Pressed by an interviewer concerning the rumors that for years had swirled round McCarrick, Wuerl said: “In the past month, I have seen some of those now-public ­reports. But in my years here in Washington and even before that, I had not heard them.”

One extra time: “In my years in Washington and even before that, I had not heard” the McCarrick ­rumors. Said by a person who himself reported McCarrick misconduct allegations to the Holy See.

The Washington archdiocese, the place Wuerl stays administrator whereas Pope Francis selects a successor, launched a press release Thursday searching for to justify the unjustifiable: “Cardinal Wuerl has attempted to be accurate in addressing questions about Archbishop McCarrick. His statements previously referred to claims of sexual abuse of a minor by Archbishop McCarrick, as well as rumors of such behavior. The Cardinal stands by those statements, which were not intended to be imprecise.”

Catch that? The July denial associated to McCarrick’s alleged misconduct with minors, but it surely didn’t apply to misconduct with grownup seminarians. Whoops — sorry for imprecision. That’s the cardinal’s and the archdiocese’s lame, legalistic rationalization for Wuerl’s preliminary, unfaithful denials.

It’s particularly galling to recall a telephone name to me by an archdiocesan spokesman, who berated me for earlier columns in these pages during which I insisted Wuerl’s denials don’t move the scent take a look at. How may he not know what “everyone knew”? Well, seems the cardinal did know, and his data was primarily based on reality.

There can be some vindication right here for Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the previous Vatican ambassador to the US whose explosive testimony accused Wuerl, amongst others, of figuring out and hiding the reality about McCarrick. “Cardinal Wuerl,” Viganò wrote, was “well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick.”

The revelation of the lie additionally makes it tougher to credit score Wuerl’s declare that he knew nothing about personal sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI on McCarrick. In 2013, Wuerl canceled a public look by McCarrick, apparently in accord with the pope’s sanctions, however he insists to this present day he hadn’t been knowledgeable of their existence.

Donald Cardinal Wuerl is 78. Whatever his shortcomings, he has devoted a lifetime to serving the Church. I don’t relish becoming a member of the refrain of media detractors jeering: “Aha! Aha!” But his troubles at the moment ought to spur American bishops to come back clear, as soon as and for all, concerning the McCarrick episode.

And let’s pray Wuerl’s seat in Washington doesn’t find yourself going to the reported high contender, Newark’s Joseph Cardinal Tobin, one other prince of the Church who admits he heard the McCarrick rumors — however did nothing.

Sohrab Ahmari is op-ed editor of The Post and creator of the forthcoming memoir of Catholic conversion, “From Fire, by Water.”

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