A Vatican letter to a New York priest confirms the Holy See knew of sexual abuse allegations against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2000, Catholic News Service reported Friday.
The U.S. bishops’ official news service, Catholic News Service (CNS) also says the 12-year-old letter “confirms elements” of the explosive 11-page testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.
Viganò’s principal allegation is that Pope Francis and a number of high-ranking prelates covered up McCarrick’s serial sexual abuse of seminarians.
He stated the Vatican knew as early as 2000, when he was an official at the Secretariat of State under Cardinal Angelo Sodano, of allegations that McCarrick “shared his bed with seminarians.”
Viganò testified the Vatican heard the allegations from both Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, U.S. nuncio from 1998 to 2005, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, U.S. nuncio from 2005 to 2011.
The letter obtained by CNS was sent in 2006 from Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, then Vatican substitute for general affairs, to Father James Boniface Ramsay, a whistleblower on McCarrick.
Sandri has since been made a cardinal and serves as prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
Now a pastor in New York City, Ramsay was professor at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Newark’s Seton Hall University from 1986 to 1996.
Ramsey told CNS he sent a letter to nuncio Montalvo dated November 22, 2000, detailing complaints from seminarians about McCarrick — a letter which Viganò refers to in his testimony.
“I complained about McCarrick’s relationships with seminarians and the whole business with sleeping with seminarians and all of that; the whole business that everyone knows about,” Ramsey said.
Sandri’s letter, sent six years later, delicately referred to these allegations when he asked Ramsey for information on a Newark diocese priest and former Immaculate Conception student he was vetting for a Vatican post.
“I ask with particular reference to the serious matters involving some of the students of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, which in November 2000 you were good enough to bring confidentially to the attention of the then Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, the late Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo,” writes Sandri.
Ramsey told CNS he assumed Sandri euphemistically referred to “serious matters involving” students because the accusations against McCarrick were so sensitive.
While he didn’t get a formal response to his 2000 letter to Montalvo, the 2006 letter from Sandri proves the Vatican received the information, Ramsey said.
Viganò testified that “the office that I held at the time was not informed of any measure taken by the Holy See after those charges were brought by Nuncio Montalvo at the end of 2000, when Cardinal Angelo Sodano was Secretary of State.”
Viganò alleged Pope Francis not only disregarded sanctions Pope Benedict put on McCarrick, but that the pope took counsel from the now-disgraced one-time archbishop of Washington.
Viganò asserts that McCarrick, along with Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, was instrumental in the appointments of Cardinal Blase Cupich to Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin to Newark.
McCarrick’s decades’ long sexual predation was finally brought to light when the New York archdiocese announced in June there were credible allegations the now 88-year-old archbishop sexually abused a teenaged boy while a priest in New York.
Since his testimony was published August 25, Viganò has been under fire from critics and his document, character and motives scrutinized.
CNS produced an August 29 video casting doubt on whether Benedict had placed sanctions on McCarrick. Vigano subsequently clarified the sanctions were private and McCarrick simply defied them.
Pope Francis has refused so far to directly address or launch an investigation into Viganò’s testimony, despite calls for him to do so from nearly 30 bishops and thousands of laypeople.
Almost 14,000 people have signed a LifeSiteNews pledge to support and offer prayers for Viganò, who according to an August 28 tweet by National Catholic Register’s Ed Pentin, fears for his life and has gone into hiding.