VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A former nuncio to the
United States acknowledged hearing rumors about the sexual misconduct of
Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick already in 1994.
Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan, who served as pro-nuncio to the
United States from 1990 to 1998, told Catholic News Service Oct. 29 that
he received a phone call from a woman in the months preceding St. John
Paul II's visit to the United States in 1995.
"I remember in 1994, during the preparation of the papal visit to New
York, Newark and Baltimore," Cardinal Cacciavillan said, "I received a
telephone call" at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.
According to the 92-year-old retired papal diplomat, the caller
feared there would be a "media scandal if the pope goes to Newark,"
Archbishop McCarrick's diocese, because of "voices, voices (rumors)
about McCarrick's behavior with seminarians."
"It was not a formal complaint, but the expression of a concern," he said.
Cardinal Cacciavillan said that he took the matter to the
then-archbishop of New York, Cardinal John J. O'Connor, because he was
"the closest bishop. No one better than the archbishop of New York would
know what was happening in the Archdiocese of Newark."
Cardinal O'Connor carried out an "investigation, an inquiry," he
said, and told the nuncio that "there was no obstacle to the visit of
the pope to Newark."
Cardinal Cacciavillan described Cardinal O'Connor, who died in 2000,
as a "very competent person," and the retired nuncio said he had no
reason to doubt the reliability of Cardinal O'Connor's inquiry.
Asked why he thought the phone call warranted an inquiry, Cardinal
Cacciavillan responded, "I thought it was something important."
Cardinal Cacciavillan told CNS that while he encountered Archbishop
McCarrick frequently during the eight years he served as nuncio, he
never spoke to Archbishop McCarrick about the rumors nor did he report
the rumors to the Vatican.
In fact, he said, the first time he spoke to any Vatican official
about the rumors was Oct. 7 during a visit with Canadian Cardinal Marc
Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Earlier that day, the
Canadian cardinal had released an open letter responding to allegations
by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, another former nuncio, that Pope
Francis had known for years about Archbishop McCarrick's behavior and
had done nothing about it until accusations were made about him sexually
Interviewed in his Vatican apartment, Cardinal Cacciavillan denied
reports that he ordered then-Archbishop McCarrick to sell his beach
house in Sea Girt, New Jersey, the house where he allegedly brought
groups of seminarians and would have one share a bed with him.
Archbishop McCarrick sold the house in 1997 while Cardinal Cacciavillan
was still nuncio.
Cardinal Cacciavillan was not mentioned in the long statement
Archbishop Vigano published in August alleging that complaints about
Archbishop McCarrick were mishandled for years; the statement did,
however, mention steps he claimed Cardinal Cacciavillan's successors --
Archbishops Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi -- tried to take.
"The case of McCarrick came out especially after he was transferred
to Washington" in late 2000 and after St. John Paul named him a cardinal
in February 2001, Cardinal Cacciavillan said.