The former secretary to defrocked American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has released excerpts from private and confidential correspondence among top Vatican leaders which reveal details of restrictions placed on McCarrick by the Holy See following allegations of sexual misconduct. The communications reveal the extent to which the restrictions were known among senior church leaders – and particularly by his successor Cardinal Donald Wuerl – but not enforced.
That lack of enforcement meant McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington D.C., was allowed to continue traveling on behalf of the Holy See despite limitations implemented as part of the church punishment.
The personal letters and emails include correspondence between McCarrick and other senior church figures, including cardinals, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and Pope Francis.
“I would be part of the cover-up if I simply kept that correspondence to myself,” Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo told CBS News regarding his decision to release the excerpts of letters in his report on Tuesday.
Figueiredo, a long-time consultant to CBS News, chose to go public with the private correspondence on the 25th anniversary of the date he was ordained to the priesthood by McCarrick. Figueiredo served as McCarrick’s personal secretary in Newark from September 1994 to June 1995, and assisted McCarrick during his frequent visits to Rome, where Figueiredo served as a spiritual advisor to the North American College, an American seminary.
In the 11-page document, available online, the Monsignor writes that, “after long consideration, I have made the decision to place in the public domain some of the correspondence and other information related to McCarrick that I possess in my many years of service to him.”
Figueiredo says in his report that as a “priest ordained by… McCarrick and one who served him closely, I reflect often upon how much damage to the physical, psychological and spiritual lives of so many might have been avoided had the restrictions been made public and enforced as soon as they were imposed.”
“Trying for months”
Figueiredo writes that his decision “to release letters to the public follow attempts since September 2018 to share, discuss and make these public through the Holy See and other Church leaders.”
“I’ve been trying for months to share this correspondence with church leaders,” Figueiredo said in an on-camera interview with CBS News. He said he was urged by Pope Francis’ call for transparency, adding “he’s saying: make it public, report it.”
Figueiredo shared nearly two dozen of the letters and emails, which date from 2008 to 2017, with CBS News and the Catholic website Crux for review.
When asked about what change could result from releasing the documents, he said, “we’re talking about future cases… perhaps there are other bishops out there who have had restrictions imposed on them. This is why this needs to come out.”
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SOURCE: CBS News, Anna Matranga and Seth Doane