Cardinal Wuerl ‘forgot’ about abuse allegation

Then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Cardinal Donald Wuerl in 2010-CNS-PaulHaring

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Washington’s retired archbishop, has apologised for what he called a “lapse of memory,” clarifying that he knew of at least one abuse allegation against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but had “forgotten” about it. Source: CNS.

In a second letter issued this month about what he knew regarding abuse allegations involving his Washington predecessor, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged that he became aware of the allegation against now-Archbishop McCarrick after receiving a report in 2004 about a different allegation, but the “survivor also indicated that he had observed and experienced ‘inappropriate conduct’ by then-Bishop McCarrick.”

The former cardinal is now an archbishop, having stepped down from the College of Cardinals last July following accusations that he abused minors in the past. Other accusations followed about inappropriate behaviour with seminarians. He has denied the accusations, but the Vatican is reportedly considering whether to laicise him. He now is living in a Capuchin Franciscan friary in Kansas.

Cardinal Wuerl was bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2004 and he said in the January 15 letter to priests of Washington that back then, he received a report from the Pittsburgh Diocesan Review Board, which reviews allegations of abuse, about a separate case and “at the conclusion of this report, the survivor indicated the ‘inappropriate conduct’” he observed by Archbishop McCarrick.

Previously, Cardinal Wuerl had said in a January 12 letter that when “the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was brought against Archbishop McCarrick, I stated publicly that I was never aware of any such allegation or rumours.” But the context, he said, was in discussions about sexual abuse of minors, not adults.

He said in the January 15 letter that the survivor in the Pittsburgh case had asked that the matter be kept confidential, he heard no more about it, “I did not avert to it again,” and “only afterwards was I reminded of the 14-year-old accusation of inappropriate conduct which, by that time, I had forgotten.”

Cardinal Wuerl apologised to the victim and said, “It is important for me to accept personal responsibility and apologise for this lapse of memory. There was never the intention to provide false information.”


Cardinal Wuerl acknowledges he knew of one accusation against predecessor (CNS)


Cardinal Wuerl apologizes to priests, McCarrick victim, says he forgot he knew about harassment allegations (Washington Post)

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