VATICAN CITY (AP) – E-mail correspondence shows disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was placed under Vatican restrictions in 2008 to sleep with seminars, but regularly flooded those travel regulations with the apparent knowledge of Vatican officials under Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis
Francis closed down McCarrick in February after a church investigation confirmed that McCarrick sexually abused minors and adults.
The existence of former Vatican restrictions on McCarrick has been the subject of debate since a retired Vatican diplomat accused Francis of rehabilitating McCarrick from the 2013 restrictions, despite knowing his behavior.
The accusations of the diplomat, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, have b used by Francis & Conservative critics to attack him as they apparently show that Francis ignored information that McCarrick pursued seminars.
The McCarrick scandal has created a credibility crisis in the US and the Vatican hierarchy when it was an open secret in a church circle that McCarrick sexually harassed seminarians and pressed them to sleep with him in the same bed at his beach house.
The emails do not describe what information Francis had or whether he actually lifted the restrictions. But they show that McCarrick regularly ignored them himself during the Benedict Pope, Vigano apparently underestimated the core attempt of placing the lion's share of the cover-up blame on Francis and demanding that he resign as a result.
The excerpts were put online by McCarrick's one-time secretary, Monsignor Anthony Figueriredo, currently a priest in McCarrick's former diocese of Newark, New Jersey. They were first reported by Crux's website and CBS.
The emails make it clear that the restrictions were imposed in writing in August 2008, requiring McCarrick to move out of his seminar residence and request the Palatinate's permission for future public perceptions or talks in the United States or abroad. Wuerl was actively involved in helping him find a new residence they show.
Previously, the correspondents showed that such a travel permit was requested and given for a trip to Rome. But in 2012, while Benedict was still Pope, McCarrick resumed his globe trot journey to Qatar, Ireland, Mideast, Asia, and the Holy Land and Europe. However, it is unclear whether any travel was sought and granted.
During Francis pavilium, the journey continued – China, Iraq, Morocco – and the correspondence shows McCarrick, writing directly to Francis and the Vatican Secretariat with updates at his meetings, suggesting that he at least saw himself as an unofficial missionary working on behalf of the Vatican.
In an independent interview released on Tuesday, Francis refused to know anything about McCarrick, although it is not clear whether he referred to allegations of sexually abusive minors or adults.
"I didn't know anything about McCarrick, nothing natural," he said in an interview with Valentina Alazraki, the Vatican correspondent for Mexico's Televisa.
Vigano said he briefed Francis in June 2013 about McCarrick told the Pope that he "destroyed a generation of seminars" and that there was a thick file on him in the Vatican's congregation for bishops.