As Joan Desmond at National Catholic Register points out, one of the key issues in regard to the Cardinal McCarrick scandal is what did the Vatican know, and when did the Vatican know it:
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., was suspended from public ministry on Wednesday, after an allegation that he had sexually abused a minor was found to be credible.
According to a statement released by the Archdiocese of New York, McCarrick was accused of abusing a teenage altar boy almost 50 years ago, while serving as a priest in the Archdiocese of New York. The Vatican had directed Cardinal Timothy Dolan to investigate the claim and it was found to be “credible and substantiated.”
But that was not the only disturbing news to be disclosed about McCarrick’s record.
In a statement issued by Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, the public learned that McCarrick had faced three accusations of sexual misconduct involving adults.
“In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults,” read Cardinal Tobin’s statement, which referenced McCarrick’s previous posts as archbishop of Newark (1986–2000) and bishop of Metuchen (1981–1986).
“This Archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.”
The shocking statement raised additional questions about whether the Vatican learned of the three allegations of sexual misconduct before or after McCarrick was named archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2001, serving until 2006.
The Register contacted the Archdiocese of Newark and was told that neither the settlement dates, nor details about identity of the victims—whether they might have been seminarians or young priests—would be provided.
“We don’t release that kind of information because of confidentiality issues,” Jim Goodness, the spokesman or the Archdiocese of Newark, told the Register.
Without the dates of the three allegations and two settlements, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to know if the Vatican knew about the allegations in time to stop the appointment.