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The Journal Gazette

Friday, January 11, 2019 1:00 am

DC cardinal knew of sex allegations

Washington Post

Despite public denials, District of Columbia Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew of sexual misconduct allegations against ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick and reported them to the Vatican in 2004, church officials confirmed Thursday evening.

Robert Ciolek, a former priest who reached a settlement with the church in 2005 after reporting abuse and misconduct by clerics including McCarrick, told the Washington Post he recently learned that the Pittsburgh Diocese has a file that shows Wuerl's initials next to a firsthand account of Wuerl bringing Ciolek's complaint to the then-Vatican ambassador, Gabriel Montalvo. At the time, Wuerl was the bishop in Pittsburgh.

The document Ciolek said he saw in December clashes with Wuerl's public statements about McCarrick since the older cleric was suspended in June due to a complaint he groped an altar boy decades ago.

As the U.S. Catholic Church since summer has erupted into a full-blown clergy sex abuse scandal, Wuerl has largely rejected charges that he played a role in it, portraying himself as unaware about the allegations against McCarrick that set off the crisis.

McCarrick's case, which includes allegations of youth abuse and harassment of seminarians, is reportedly now about to be decided in one of the highest-profile clergy sex abuse trial processes to come before Rome.

Both the D.C. archdiocese and the Pittsburgh diocese Thursday night acknowledged Wuerl knew and told the Vatican, and said they were simply trying to protect Ciolek's confidentiality.

Ciolek dismissed that Thursday. “There was nothing that precluded them from talking to anyone” about his case. Wuerl at worst could have said: 'I am aware but I can't name that person.' ”

Wuerl was forced to retire early in the fall due to his alleged mishandling of clergy sexual misconduct when he was bishop of Pittsburgh and his replacement is rumored to be named in coming weeks.