Cardinal Donald Wuerl said he had a "lapse of memory" when he denied that he knew of claims of sexual abuse made against his predecessor, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Donald Wuerl is again clarifying, and also apologizing, for his handling of claims of sexual abuse made against his predecessor, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
In multiple interviews, including one in July 2018 with WTOP, McCarrick denied he was aware of any allegations leveled against McCarrick.
Asked specifically about reports at the time that said rumors of impropriety had followed McCarrick for many years, Wuerl told WTOP: “No one ever said to me this person did this to me.”
He then added: “Now there are always out there in that blogosphere all kinds of things being said about everybody and everything, so I don’t know how you sort through that. You would have to spend the rest of your life sorting through all the things that are presented in blogs.”
But records from the Pittsburgh diocese, where Wuerl served as bishop before his arrival in D.C., shows he had forwarded a complaint to the Vatican made by a former priest accusing McCarrick of sexual abuse.
Wuerl explained in a letter sent to priests in the archdiocese, which was obtained by The Washington Post, that he never made mention of the matter again after that, in part because the victim requested that the allegation remain held in confidence.
Eventually, over the next 14 years, he said he forgot about it.
Since then, Wuerl has also argued his previous misstatements were meant to protect the accuser’s privacy, and that other previous denials about McCarrick’s alleged abuse extended only to children.
Tuesday night, Wuerl wrote he “wanted to apologize for any additional grief my failure might have brought the survivor.”
In the letter, the cardinal also conceded “nonetheless, it is important for me to accept personal responsibility and apologize for this lapse of memory. There was never the intention to provide false information.”
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