The Catholic archbishop of Boston pledged procedural changes after claiming that a letter detailing Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s alleged sexual abuse of seminarians never got to him.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley accepted “full responsibility” for his failure to receive the letter, which Father Boniface Ramsey of New York says he sent to O’Malley’s office in June 2015. O’Malley’s secretary, Father Robert Kickham, received the letter and reportedly told Ramsey that Ramsey’s office had no jurisdiction over the allegations, since the seminarians were young adults and O’Malley led the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. (RELATED: Conservative Catholics Call For Purge Of Gay Priests In Light Of Sex Abuse Scandals)
O’Malley said it was now “clear to Father Kickham and to me” that he should have received the letter and responded differently.
“In retrospect, it is now clear to Father Kickham and to me that I should have seen that letter precisely because it made assertions about the behavior of an Archbishop in the Church. I take responsibility for the procedures followed in my office, and I also am prepared to modify those procedures in light of this experience,” O’Malley said in a Monday statement, according to Crux Now.
O’Malley claimed that he first heard the allegations that McCarrick abused seminarians and others in 2018 news reports. He acknowledged, however, that “not everyone will accept this answer given the way the Church has eroded the trust of our people.”
The archbishop also expressed confusion over how McCarrick became a bishop, given the fact that any doubts about a priest’s commitment to celibacy would automatically preclude him from being named as a bishop.
“The bishops’ conference is anxious to understand how Theodore McCarrick could have been named Bishop, Archbishop and Cardinal. We must be certain that this never happens again. That is why the bishops’ conference is requesting an investigation by the Holy See with the participation of lay people,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley is credited with cleaning house in the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Boston after the Spotlight pedophilia scandal when he took over for the disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law in 2003. More recently, O’Malley canceled his attendance at the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Dublin, at which Pope Francis is scheduled to appear, in order to investigate possible sexual misconduct at St. John’s Seminary.
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