Then-Newark Archbishop Theodore McCarrick in 2000/ (John O'Boyle | Star-Ledger file photo)
What happened in New Jersey?
McCarrick, 87, served as a bishop and archbishop in New Jersey between 1981 and 2001. He was bishop of Metuchen from 1981 to 1986, and then became Newark’s archbishop until 2000, when he was picked by Pope John Paul II to be Washington’s archbishop. He was then elevated to cardinal in 2001.
Both the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen received allegations involving McCarrick, including two that later resulted in legal settlements, according to New Jersey church officials. But, neither the Archdiocese of Newark nor the Diocese of Metuchen offered any details about those allegations, which all involved sexual misconduct with adults.
“The Archdiocese of Newark has never received an accusation that Cardinal McCarrick abused a minor. In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark in a statement. “While Cardinal McCarrick maintains his innocence and the canonical process continues, we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth.”
Pope John Paul II embraces Archbishop Theodore McCarrick in Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1995. (Amanda Brown | Star-Ledger file photo)
Why were those settlements never publicly disclosed?
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark did not respond to questions about why the settlements were not disclosed. It is unclear if the sexual misconduct allegations against McCarrick were made in New Jersey before the Dallas Charter was enacted, or whether they needed to be reported since they did not involve minors.
Critics though, question why the Pope would have promoted McCarrick— a well-known church leader who has served on numerous Vatican councils and traveled world-wide on behalf of the church— had it known of the settlements in New Jersey.
“What is troubling about this news today is the fact that the church, which claims to be open and transparent and does not want to keep any secrets, seems to have kept these issues a secret—which extremely troubling,” said Phillipsburg attorney Greg Gianforcaro, who has represented a number of individuals alleging abuse by priests.
Mark Crawford, New Jersey director of SNAP, during a protest in front of the Statehouse in Trenton in 2011 to remove the statute of limitations in civil cases for sex abuse victims. (Frank H. Conlon | Star-Ledger file photo)
Was there a cover-up?
Mark Crawford, New Jersey state director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, blasted the Archdiocese of Newark for never reporting that three accusations of sexual misconduct had been made against McCarrick and failing to disclose that the church had settled with two victims.
“Was the Vatican never told? Was it covered up here in Newark?” Crawford asked.
He said he personally met with McCarrick in the late 1990s to discuss his accusations that he had been abused by a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark as a child. He said McCarrick seemed sympathetic.
“He told me he never met with another abuse survivor. I opened his eyes, he said,” Crawford recalled.
However, Crawford said he was disappointed that McCarrick seemed to do little to address the priest abuse problem while serving in New Jersey. He said he later heard rumors that McCarrick had been accused of sexual misconduct by adults.
What is the Dallas Charter?
In 2002 in Dallas, American bishops met in an effort to forge a zero-tolerance policy in the wake of the widening scandal over abusive priests that threatened to engulf the Catholic Church in the U.S.
What they came up with was a policy known as the Dallas Charter, or the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which required permanent removal of any priest who has committed sexual abuse involving a minor. The charter also called for American bishops to report all such cases of sexual abuse to civil authorities.