Credible Allegations of Sexual Abuse Against Cardinal McCarrick Force Removal from Ministry

The Vatican says sex abuse allegations against American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick are credible and has removed him from public ministry. McCarrick, now 87, is accused of sexually abusing a teenager 50 years ago, when McCarrick was a priest.

Rumors have circulated about McCarrick and young seminarians since he was the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey in the 1980s. Renowned pries sex abuse expert Richard Sipe documented some of the allegations against this “prince of the church” (as Cardinals are called) on his website. McCarrick went on to serve as the Archbishop of Newark. He was serving as the Archbishop emeritus of Washington, DC at the time of his suspension.

News of McCarrick’s suspension has fired up concerns about McCarrick’s past. Michael Brendan Dougherty tweeted: “Every bishop who worked closely with McCarrick should be asked, ‘What did you know and when did you know it? Can you document expressing your concerns to Rome?’”

Rod Dreher writes in American Conservative that when McCarrick was up for consideration to become a Cardinal in 2000, prominent Catholic laymen from the US flew to Rome to warn the Vatican that McCarrick was a serial sexual harasser of seminarians who liked to crawl in bed and cuddle with young men. Dreher said he had a tip back in 2002 about McCarrick’s double life as “Uncle Ted” but didn’t publish a story because he couldn’t get anyone to go on the record.

The new accusation that prompted the church finally to remove McCrary from ministry involves a teenager he allegedly abused almost 50 years ago, while he was a priest in New York. Also, it has now come out that the church settled earlier sexual misconduct claims involving McCarrick and young adults. Newark’s Archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, and Metuchen’s bishop, James Checchio, confirmed these accusations and the settlements.

The church continues to deny it had any notice about McCarrick and minors, acknowledging only that he acted inappropriately with “adult” seminarians. First, the fact that these young men may have been over the age of majority (which in in New Jersey is only 16 and in New York is only 17), does not excuse McCarrick’s conduct. The young seminarians were under his authority and he got into their beds so he could cuddle with them for his own sexual pleasure. More important, it is unlikely that he abused only one under-aged teen.

In spite of the rumors, McCarrick climbed to the top of the ecclesiastical perch in the USA. He was created a cardinal and retired as the Archbishop of Washington. This demonstrates the depth of corruption within the Catholic Church and the character of McCarrick himself.

It’s time for all victims of exploitation and abuse by priests to tell their stories. And even more important, it’s time for all those priests, bishops, and others within the Church who covered up wrongdoing – either actively or by turning a blind eye – to speak up. The Church will not recover from its vocation shortage as long as it demands moral compromise with sexual misconduct.


Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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