VATICAN CITY – Catholic News Service on Friday published a redacted version of a letter sent in 2006 from a high-ranking official of the Vatican Secretariat of State, which implicitly acknowledges receipt of allegations made against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The October 11, 2006, letter obtained by CNS is from then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who was substitute for the Secretariat of State, to Dominican Father Boniface Ramsey, who had been on the faculty of Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, New Jersey, from 1986 to 1996.
Sandri’s letter refers “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.”
Father Ramsey has said that when McCarrick was appointed archbishop of Washington in 2000, he contacted Archbishop Montalvo to report allegations of McCarrick’s misconduct with seminarians he had heard from his own seminary students.
At the nuncio's request, he said, he put his concerns in writing.
Father Ramsey told CNS that, in his letter, “I complained about McCarrick’s relationships with seminarians and the whole business with sleeping with seminarians.”
“My letter [of] November 22, 2000, was about McCarrick and it wasn’t accusing seminarians of anything; it was accusing McCarrick,” he said.
CNS reported that though Father Ramsey has said he did not receive a formal response to his letter of November 22, 2000, “he was certain the letter had been received because of the note he got from then-Archbishop Sandri in 2006 acknowledging the allegations he had raised in 2000.”
The immediate purpose of Sandri’s 2006 letter was to inquire about a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark who had studied at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University. The priest was being considered for a post at the Vatican.
Sandri is now prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, and a cardinal.
Father Ramsey’s account accords with details of that offered by the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who was apostolic nuncio to the U.S. from 2011 to 2016.
Archbishop Viganò had written that Montalvo (and his successor, Archbishop Pietro Sambi) “did not fail to inform the Holy See immediately, as soon as they learned of Archbishop McCarrick’s gravely immoral behavior with seminarians and priests.”
“Indeed, according to what Nuncio Pietro Sambi wrote, Father Boniface Ramsey, O.P.’s letter, dated November 22, 2000, was written at the request of the late Nuncio Montalvo. In the letter, Father Ramsey, who had been a professor at the diocesan seminary in Newark from the end of the ’80s until 1996, affirms that there was a recurring rumor in the seminary that the Archbishop ‘shared his bed with seminarians,’ inviting five at a time to spend the weekend with him at his beach house. And he added that he knew a certain number of seminarians, some of whom were later ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Newark, who had been invited to this beach house and had shared a bed with the Archbishop.”
Viganò also stated that on December 6, 2006, he wrote and delivered to Sandri a memo which detailed accusations of sexual abuse against McCarrick by Gregory Littleton, a laicized priest, which included “absolution of the accomplices in these depraved acts.” The former nuncio said he proposed in that letter that “an exemplary measure be taken against the Cardinal that could have a medicinal function, to prevent future abuses against innocent victims and alleviate the very serious scandal for the faithful.”