The previous two popes were aware of sexual misconduct allegations against American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick but they did not halt the powerful cleric’s rise through the church, according to a Vatican report released Tuesday.
McCarrick, 90, was defrocked by Francis last year after decades of allegations that the globe-trotting envoy had sexually molested adults as well as children.
The 446-page document said that Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II had known for years about claims against McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who was one of the most prominent figures in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.
The report said the previous two popes, as well as senior U.S. Catholic officials, knew about the allegations. These included that McCarrick had shared a bed with seminarians at his New Jersey beach house and that there was “credible evidence” he abused minors when he was a priest in the 1970s, although the report found this didn’t surface until years later.
The Vatican took the extraordinary step Tuesday of publishing its two-year, 400-plus-page internal investigation into the prelate’s rise and fall. It details how McCarrick often shared a bed at his New Jersey home with teenagers he made call him ‘uncle Ted’ and puts the lion’s share of blame on a dead saint: Pope John Paul II.
Now aged 90 and living in seclusion in the U.S., he has previously responded publicly only to the allegations that he abused minors, saying he had “absolutely no recollection” of them.
The report said Pope Francis, who has has consistently denied knowledge of the incidents, was only given evidence of McCarrick’s misconduct in 2017.