Cardinal Wuerl Allegedly Informed Of McCarrick Allegations In 2017, While Seminarians Took McCarrick To Casinos And A Beach House

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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  • Cardinal Theodore McCarrick lived in a house on the grounds of the Institute of the Incarnate Word seminary during retirement.
  • Seminarians were tasked to live with McCarrick and act as his personal staff, accompanying him on trips to a beach house and a casino.
  • A source affiliated with the seminary claims that Cardinal Donald Wuerl attempted to remove McCarrick from the seminary in 2016 and was informed of allegations against him in 2017.

A source affiliated with the Institute of the Incarnate Word seminary alleged that Cardinal Donald Wuerl was informed in 2017 of allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

A source familiar with McCarrick’s case, who spoke with Catholic News Agency on Aug. 25 on condition of anonymity, claimed that Wuerl was informed that McCarrick was being investigated for alleged sexual abuse in New York in 2017. Wuerl then allegedly communicated directly with McCarrick, who was living in a house on seminary ground with seminarians as aides, and encouraged him to withdraw from public ministry. (RELATED: Cardinal Wuerl Claims Pope Is Under ‘Concentrated Attack’)

Wuerl had previously ordered McCarrick to vacate the house on the seminary’s grounds in 2016, according to a former senior seminary official. The former official said Wuerl had been “hands off” in dealing with McCarrick until the summer of 2016, when Wuerl communicated that he wanted McCarrick “less active and more retired” and for him to “keep a lower profile.”

Wuerl has repeatedly denied knowing about the allegations against McCarrick until the beginning of the New York investigation.

The seminary, meanwhile, had assigned seminarians to live with McCarrick as his aides, or “bedels.” These aides were tasked as McCarrick’s personal drivers and staff, and were obliged to accompany him on various trips. The seminary originally assigned a priest to live with McCarrick, until McCarrick helped the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) whether the revelation that Father Carlos Miguel Buela, the institute’s founder, was suspected of sexual misconduct — allegations that were proven in 2016.

Those who witnessed McCarrick at the seminary during that time said he used his help to the institute as leverage, and summed up his attitude as “If you’re grateful, you’ll shut up.”

The seminary withdrew the priest’s secretary, reportedly saying that priests needed to be engaged in active ministry, and assigned seminarians as McCarrick’s live-in aides from that point forward.

A former IVE seminarian told CNA that the seminary told those tasked with aiding McCarrick to ignore his “worldly” tastes. The bedels were allegedly obliged to accompany McCarrick on trips to a beach house to meet with friends, though it remains unclear whether it is the same beach house in which McCarrick allegedly abused groups of seminarians during overnight trips.

McCarrick’s bedels were also obliged to accompany him on at least one trip to a casino. The casino trip sparked ire among the seminarians and their formators, who reported the incident to officials in Rome.

The seminarians were reassigned once the archdiocese of New York announced in June of 2018 that allegations that McCarrick sexually abused a teenager were credible. The seminarians no longer had to live with McCarrick, but were still tasked with acting as his personal staff.

The Archdiocese of Washington told CNA that it was unaware of the extent to which seminarians were tasked with aiding McCarrick. A spokesman for the archdiocese, Ed McFadden, also said McCarrick’s departure from the house on seminary grounds to a retirement home run by a female religious order was prompted by health concerns.

The archdiocese also repeatedly told CNA that “Archbishop McCarrick typically made his own housing arrangements and did not directly involve the Archdiocese of Washington,” despite reports from IVE that Wuerl tried to have McCarrick removed from the property. CNA also cited alleged evidence that the archdiocese approved renovations to the rectory of the parish for McCarrick.

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