© 2021 WLRN
MIAMI | SOUTH FLORIDA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Vatican Report Says Pope John Paul II Knew About Allegations Against Former Cardinal

A new Vatican report details the church's handling of abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, shown here in 2015.
A new Vatican report details the church's handling of abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, shown here in 2015.

A new Vatican report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct that spanned decades, shows that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were aware of the accusations against him.

The Vatican on Tuesday made public a detailed 461-page report on an internal investigation revealing that the Holy See repeatedly downplayed or dismissed reports of McCarrick's alleged sexual transgressions involving both minors and adults.

Last year, Pope Francis dismissed McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., after a church tribunal found him guilty of abusing minors and adults.

The most striking revelation is that Pope John Paul II, who was made a saint in 2014, appointed McCarrick to the position of archbishop of Washington despite a letter from the late New York Cardinal John O'Connor in 1999 detailing allegations against him.

Among other things, the new report reveals that at the time of McCarrick's appointment as archbishop of Washington in late 2000, the Vatican was aware of allegations that included a report dating to 1987 by a priest who claimed to have observed sexual conduct between McCarrick and another priest, and an anonymous letter charging the McCarrick with pedophilia with his "nephews."

The report says that at the time, McCarrick was also "known to have shared a bed" with multiple men at his residences and a beach house in New Jersey.

That information had led over the years "to the conclusion that it would be imprudent to transfer" McCarrick. "However, Pope John Paul II seems to have changed his mind in August/September 2000, ultimately leading to his decision to appoint McCarrick to Washington in November 2000," the report states.

It wasn't until 2017, when a former altar boy came forward with allegations that McCarrick had groped him in the 1970s, that a canonical trial was set in motion that resulted in his defrocking two years later.

James Grein, who testified that he was abused by McCarrick for two decades starting at age 11, told The Associated Press that he was pleased with the release of the report.

"There are so many people suffering out there because of one man," Grein told the AP. "And he thinks that he's more important than the rest of us. He's destroyed me and he's destroyed thousands of other lives. ... It's time that the Catholic Church comes clean with all of its destruction."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.