UPDATE: USCCB statement link was added at 12:43pm June 20.
NEW YORK — The Archdiocese of New York announced Wednesday that an investigation it conducted into allegations of sexual abuse against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who oversaw multiple major U.S. dioceses, has found the accusations to be “credible and substantiated.”
In the June 20 statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, said the alleged abuse happened nearly 50 years ago while McCarrick was a priest of the New York Archdiocese. It is the only such accusation against the McCarrick that the archdiocese is aware of, Cardinal Dolan said.
Once the archdiocese received the allegation, it turned it over to local law enforcement, and it was “thoroughly investigated” by an independent forensics team, Cardinal Dolan said, noting that Cardinal McCarrick has maintained his innocence but is cooperating in the investigation.
The Vatican has been informed of the accusation, and, as a result, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, by order of Pope Francis, has prohibited Cardinal McCarrick from public ministry. No official statement from the Vatican has been released.
Cardinal McCarrick, 87, is a native of New York and served as the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, from 1982 to 1986, archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, from 1986 to 2000 and archbishop of Washington from 2000 to 2006.
In his own statement on the alleged abuse, Cardinal McCarrick said he was informed by Cardinal Dolan about the allegation of abusing a teenager several months ago.
“While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence,” he said, “I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency, and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York. I fully cooperated in the process.”
The cardinal said he was sad to hear that the allegations had been deemed “credible and substantiated” by law enforcement officials.
He said that he accepts the Holy See’s decision to remove him from public ministry and has pledged obedience to the decision.
“I realize this painful development will shock my many friends, family members and people I have been honored to serve in my 60 years as a priest,” he said, adding that while he has “absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people.”
In his statement, Cardinal Dolan said the Archdiocese of New York is “saddened and shocked” by the accusations and asked for prayers for everyone involved.
Cardinal Dolan also issued a renewed apology to all victims abused by priests and thanked Cardinal McCarrick’s accuser for having the courage to come forward. He voiced hope that this case “can bring a sense of resolution and fairness.”
In a separate statement from the Archdiocese of Newark, Cardinal Joseph Tobin said news of the accusations against Cardinal McCarrick were met with “a range of emotions” and offered his apology to victims of abuse.
“I am thinking particularly of those who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives have been impacted tragically by abuse,” he said. “To those survivors, their families and loved ones, I offer my sincere apologies and my commitment of prayer and action to support you in your healing.”
Cardinal Tobin said the Archdiocese of Newark has never received any report or accusation against Cardinal McCarrick.
He noted that many people in Newark likely know Cardinal McCarrick well from his time leading the archdiocese, and that while the accusations might be hard to comprehend, “we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth.”
“The abuse crisis in our Church has been devastating. We cannot undo the actions of the past, but we must continue to act with vigilance today,” Cardinal Tobin said, and he renewed his commitment to seek forgiveness and healing and to creating a safe environment for children in Newark.
Cardinal Tobin pledged to continue reporting “immediately to civil authorities any accusation of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy and will cooperate fully in the investigation and adjudication.”
He encouraged anyone abused by a priest to come forward “as brave survivors before you have done,” and he urged priests, religious and faithful of the archdiocese to keep the situation in their prayers.
Details of the canonical process of Cardinal McCarrick’s trial have not been released; however, Bishop James Checchio, current Bishop of Metuchen, said Cardinal McCarrick “is appealing this matter through the canonical process.”
After hearing about the “very disturbing” from New York, Bishop Checchio said he had Metuchen’s records re-examined, and no accusations of sexual abuse had ever been raised against McCarrick. However, in the past, allegations of “sexual behavior with adults” had been brought forward.
Both the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark, he said, decades ago received three allegations of “sexual misconduct with adults,” and two of these allegations have resulted in settlements.