Diocese denies claim that Wuerl knew years ago about allegations against McCarrick

WASHINGTON — D.C.’s Catholic archdiocese is denying a former Vatican ambassador’s claim that Cardinal Donald Wuerl was aware years ago of sexual-misconduct allegations against former archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the retired Vatican ambassador to the U.S., also alleges that McCarrick had been sanctioned by Pope Benedict XVI over sexual misconduct, that Pope Francis himself knew, and that those sanctions were later repealed by Pope Francis anyway.

McCarrick resigned as cardinal last month, after a church investigation deemed credible an accusation that McCarrick had sexually abused a minor. Other accusers have come forward since then.

Pope Francis himself declined Sunday to confirm or deny knowing about any punishment.

Viganò contends that McCarrick’s successor was “obviously, the first to have been informed of the measures taken by Pope Benedict.”

In its statement Monday, the archdiocese said Viganò has no evidence to back up his claims.

“Cardinal Wuerl has categorically denied that any of this information was communicated to him,” the statement read. “Archbishop Viganò has not produced in his testimony any objectively verifiable proof that he in any way communicated to Cardinal Wuerl restrictions imposed on Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI.

“… Cardinal Wuerl has indicated that during his entire tenure as archbishop of Washington no one has come forward to say to him, ‘Cardinal McCarrick abused me’ or made any other like claim.”

Viganò’s claims add to the intense scrutiny that both Wuerl and the Vatican are already under in the wake of a grand jury’s exhaustive report chronicling 70 years of child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses.

Wuerl served as bishop in the Pittsburgh diocese for 18 years.