The Archdiocese of Washington on Sunday called allegations of sexual abuse against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick “profoundly troubling” and encouraged other potential victims to step forward.
In the local archdiocese’s first public remarks since its former archbishop became the first cardinal in history to resign because of sexual abuse allegations, the church said it did not know of any sexual abuse cases that stemmed from McCarrick’s tenure as archbishop of Washington from 2001 until 2006.
McCarrick stepped down from the College of Cardinals on Saturday. Pope Francis has ordered him to remain in seclusion until a canonical trial.
Saying McCarrick’s reported actions “represent a breach of trust and wounding that no person should bear alone,” the statement from the archdiocese sought to assure potential additional victims that allegations would be thoroughly investigated and handled with sensitivity.
In June, the Catholic Church found McCarrick to be credibly accused of sexually abusing a teenager almost 50 years ago when he was a priest in New York. Additional reports of sexual abuse and harassment have surfaced since then, including from a then-minor and three adults.
Each of the adult victims were young priests or seminarians when McCarrick allegedly abused them. The Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey and the Archdiocese of Newark have said they reached settlements in the 2000s with two men who alleged that McCarrick sexually harassed them when they were adults.
“We continue to pray for the survivors of such abuse and understand how difficult it is to share such painful memories,” the Washington Archdiocese said in its written statement. “The archdiocese encourages all coming forward to share these experiences with any diocese in which they reside so that these grave issues can be reviewed promptly by Church authorities, and that we can offer assistance to begin the process for healing and peace.”
The Washington Archdiocese said reviews of its records triggered by the New York case turned up “no complaints of any kind” against McCarrick.
The archdiocese further said that before June, it did not have any knowledge of the confidential settlements that had been reached by the dioceses in Metuchen and Newark.