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Leaked McCarrick correspondence confirms Vatican restrictions

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2003 (Getty Images)

Letters and emails provided by a former aide also suggest Cardinal Wuerl knew of the restrictions

Leaked correspondence from Theodore McCarrick confirms that the Vatican placed restrictions on the former cardinal in 2008 and strongly suggests that Cardinal Donald Wuerl was aware of those restrictions.

It also shows that McCarrick increasingly disregarded those restrictions and went on to play a notable role in the Vatican-China negotiations.

In the correspondence, obtained by Crux, the ex-cardinal promises not to travel without Vatican permission and to resign from all his roles in the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. However, McCarrick disputes an order not to come to Rome.

He says that he discussed his restrictions with Wuerl in 2008, even sharing a letter with him outlining the restrictions. He also praises Wuerl’s “help and understanding” as a “great help and fraternal support to me”.

Cardinal Wuerl initially denied knowing about abuse claims against McCarrick until they became public in 2018. However, in January he admitted to a “lapse in memory” regarding a different allegation he received in 2004.

The correspondence also shows how McCarrick increasingly disregarded restrictions placed against him, travelling to Rome twice in 2009, the year after they were imposed. In 2010, he visited 11 different countries.

After the election of Pope Francis, McCarrick became involved in the Vatican-China negotiations, travelling multiple times to the country and claiming to have corresponded regularly with several senior church figures about his trips.

Mgr Anthony Figueiredo, a former McCarrick aide provided the documents to Crux. He has also prepared a 10-page report based on the correspondence and plans to publish all the documents on a website.

“As a priest ordained by then-Archbishop McCarrick and one who served him closely, I reflect often upon how much damage to the physical, psychological and spiritual lives of so many might have been avoided had the restrictions been made public and enforced as soon as they were imposed,” Figueiredo says.

A spokesman for Wuerl said: “Cardinal Wuerl has previously stated – and he reiterates again – that he was not aware of any imposition of sanctions or restrictions related to any claim of abuse or inappropriate activity by Theodore McCarrick.

“Based on descriptions, none of the documents released today explicitly indicate that Cardinal Wuerl had any such knowledge.”