NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a scandal that has shaken the faith of many Catholics — allegations of sexual abuse of minors and seminarians by former Newark Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.
Now, a long-awaited Vatican report spells out how rumors of misconduct failed to stop his advancement, all the way to the College of Cardinals, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Tuesday.
Pope Francis kept a promise by releasing the 461-page report, which attempts to answer a troubling question about McCarrick.
“How a man who had rumors swirling about him, about how he liked to sleep with seminarians could nevertheless rise to the top of the Catholic church,” AP religion writer Nicole Winfield said.
Charming and well-spoken in five languages, McCarrick was a leading figure in American Catholicism for years. He was the Bishop of Metuchen, Archbishop of Newark, and Cardinal of Washington D.C. Now, the 90-year-old is disgraced, defrocked, and widely viewed as a deceiver.
“So Tony, I wish I could say you were exaggerating it a little. I don’t think you are,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan said.
“(He) deceived the faithful, and at one point perhaps even deceived the Holy Father John Paul II?” Aiello asked.
“(McCarrick) was an extraordinarily persuasive, talented, energetic, manipulative, deceitful person who was an accomplished master, apparently, of keeping this dark side under check and he deceived a lot of people, all the way to the top,” Dolan said.
The report says Pope John Paul II believed McCarrick’s denial, after New York’s John Cardinal O’Connor raised red flags in a 1999 letter.
It also faults several bishops for providing incomplete information about McCarrick to the Vatican.
“We publish the report with sorrow,” said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
McCarrick dismissed earlier anonymous letters accusing him as attempted smears.
“He had a tremendous ability to charm people, including presidents of the United States, including popes,” Dolan said.
The report says Pope Benedict acted to sideline McCarrick, but never pushed for a full accounting of his misdeeds.
Finally in 2017, a victim abused as a minor filed a substantiated complaint with the Archdiocese of New York, and McCarrick’s career ended, almost 30 years after reports of misconduct first surfaced.
The release of the report came a few days before U.S. bishops gather for their annual fall meeting, which has been overshadowed by the McCarrick scandal for two years.
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