Vatican Investigating Third Accusation of Abuse Against Former Cardinal McCarrick

Tags: Currents, Faith, Pope Francis, World News

By Christopher White, The Tablet’s National Correspondent

NEW YORK – Six months after the scandal surrounding former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick first came to light – wherein accusations of sexual abuse from a former altar boy would prompt subsequent revelations of abuse and misconduct – The Tablet has learned that the Vatican is now investigating a total of three cases of abuse against the former archbishop of Washington, one of which has yet to be publicly reported.

In June 2018, the Archdiocese of New York announced that a review board had substantiated claims of abuse against McCarrick by a former altar boy at Saint Patrick’s who reported two incidents of abuse dating back to 1971 and 1972.

In response, the Vatican suspended McCarrick from public ministry pending an investigation by the Holy See.

The following month, the New York Times first reported the case of James Grein, the child of close family friends of McCarrick, who alleged the then-priest commenced years of abuse against him beginning in the 1970’s when he was 11 years old.

Since then, multiple accusations of abuse and misconduct against adult seminarians have been reported, and on July 28, Pope Francis took the highly unusual step of accepting McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.

Meanwhile, both the unidentified altar boy’s case and that of Grein’s has been under review by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), the Vatican body responsible for handling clergy sex abuse claims.

While many observers have eagerly been awaiting the review of the two cases to see if they result in the eventual laicization of McCarrick, The Tablet has confirmed that a third case is currently being investigated, also from the Archdiocese of New York.

The individual in question, who at this time has chosen to remain anonymous, first reported his case less than three months ago. He is said to be in his 40s and the alleged abuse by McCarrick took place when he was a minor.

While specific details of the alleged abuse are unknown, the individual was known to McCarrick through close family friends, as was Grein.

To date, no criminal or civil charges against the archbishop have been filed.

In response to a request for comment, Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese of New York, told The Tablet that “The Holy See has requested each of the dioceses where McCarrick served to do a review of his time in each diocese. Judge Jones has been asked to do lead that review for the Archdiocese of New York. Any other matters concerning Archbishop McCarrick are being handled by the Holy See.”

Barbara Jones is a former federal court judge tapped by Cardinal Timothy Dolan to oversee the review of all sex abuse cases in New York and related policies and procedures.

A CDF official confirmed to The Tablet that a third case against McCarrick in under review and the general timeline of events but would not comment further.

As previously reported in September, the four dioceses in which McCarrick served – New York; Metuchen, N.J.; Newark, N.J.; and Washington, D.C.  – are all launching independent diocesan investigations into McCarrick’s history of abuse after Pope Francis declined a request from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for a Vatican led investigation into the matter.

Pope Orders ‘Thorough Study’

In addition to the independent diocesan investigations, the Holy See announced on Oct. 6, 2018 that Pope Francis has ordered a “thorough study of the entire documentation present in the archives of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See” in order to ascertain “all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively.”

To date, the Holy See has not issued a report of its findings from its investigation.

On Dec. 28, 2018, the Associated Press reported that Grein had testified before the judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of New York at the request of the CDF for their ongoing investigation into McCarrick. According to Grein’s civil attorney Patrick Noaker, McCarrick’s abuse included sexual misconduct in the confessional.

Barry Coburn, an attorney representing McCarrick in his civil cases, declined a request from The Tablet for comment.

Vatican observers have noted that Grein’s case against McCarrick is, canonically, much stronger, as the original allegations by the altar boy against him took place when the individual was 16 years old and, under the Church’s Code of Canon Law, would not have been considered a minor at the time.

The former cardinal, who is now 88 years old, is living at a Kansas religious residence.

Two sources have confirmed to The Tablet that the CDF will meet in mid-January to review all cases against McCarrick with a potential disposition by the end of the month.