Rev. Ed Reading, a priest of the Diocese of Paterson in Clifton, New Jersey, said he reported Newark Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct to his bishop in the 1980’s, who said he’d contact the Vatican’s U.S. representatives. Reading reported the misconduct after seminary students told him they felt pressured into sharing a bed with McCarrick and undressing in front of him.
Church officials removed McCarrick from ministry in June 2018, saying they were made aware of credible allegations that he abused an altar boy. Church officials have claimed they didn’t know of allegations against McCarrick related to child sex abuse until two years ago.
McCarrick became the first American cardinal to be defrocked in 2019, and now faces lawsuits accusing him of abusing children, including one claiming he shared children with other priests.
Victims’ advocate Mark Crawford said he told McCarrick in 1997 that he and his brother were sexually abused and beaten by a Bayonne priest, and that McCarrick failed to follow up on promises he made after being told of the abuse. Crawford sent letters to cardinals across the U.S. afterwards seeking help, and none offered to help.
Crawford, at this point, was aware of rumors about McCarrick’s behavior with seminary students at his beach house. “If I knew, they had to know,” he said about the cardinals.
Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles responded to one of Crawford’s letters, saying McCarrick “is greatly concerned about all these problems and issues, and I know that you can rely upon him to be attentive to these pastoral needs.” Church officials barred Mahoney in 2013 from public ministry, alleging he failed to protect kids from abuse at the hands of priests.
Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston wrote to Crawford, not offering help, but asking Crawford to “pray for the leaders of the Church, that we might do God’s will whenever this awful problem occurs.” Boston Globe reporting revealed four years later that Law moved abusive priests from parish to parish. Law resigned after the accusations and died in 2017.
Rev. Boniface Ramsey said it was widely known that seminary students often had to share a bed with McCarrick.
“There’s always one less bed than there should be so one seminarian has to stay in bed with him,” he said. “Everyone kind of accepted it. This is what McCarrick does.”
Ramsey told the director of the seminary about this in the late 1980s and sent a letter in 2000 about it to a Vatican representative.
McCarrick has denied sexually abusing anyone, writing once that he had “an unfortunate lack of judgment” and “always considered my priests and seminarians as part of my family,” sharing a bed with them like family “without thinking of it as being wrong.”