Boston cardinal apologizes for process that kept letter from reaching him

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring


(CNS) — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said Aug. 20 that he takes full responsibility
for office procedures that resulted in him never being notified about a June
2015 letter sent to his attention regarding “sexual
abuse/harassment/intimidation” allegations concerning Archbishop Theodore
E. McCarrick.

was sent to the Boston Archdiocese’s Pastoral Center and addressed to Cardinal
O’Malley as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

letter writer was Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church
Yorkville in New York City.

In it,
he described conversations with the rector of a seminary in New Jersey about
trips Archbishop McCarrick, then head of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey,
would take with seminarians to a beach house. Father Ramsey also asked that if
the matter did not fall under his purview, it be forwarded it to the
“proper agency in the Vatican.”

O’Malley said his “first knowledge” of Father Ramsey’s letter occurred when
media reports of the letter were published this July.

knowing what the letter detailed about the archbishop, the cardinal said it is “so
difficult” to understand how, when doubts were raised years ago about his “faithfulness
to his promise of celibacy” as priest, Archbishop McCarrick’s name was ever
considered for a bishop’s appointment.

apologize to Father Ramsey for not having responded to him in an appropriate
way and appreciate the effort that he undertook in seeking to bring his
concerns about Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior to my attention,” he said. “I
also apologize to anyone whose concerns were reflected in Father Ramsey’s

O’Malley explained that his priest-secretary, Father Robert Kickham, received
the 2015 letter on his behalf, “as he does much of the correspondence that
comes to my office at the Pastoral Center.”

Kickham’s response to Father Ramsey noted that individual cases such as he
proposed for review fell outside the mandate of the commission,” the cardinal
said. “Consequently, he did not bring the letter to my attention.

retrospect it is now clear to Father Kickham and to me that I should have seen
that letter precisely because it made assertions about the behavior of an archbishop
in the church,” he continued. “I take responsibility for the procedures
followed in my office and I also am prepared to modify those procedures in
light of this experience.”

O’Malley said that allegations regarding Archbishop McCarrick’s “sexual crimes”
were “unknown to me until the recent media reports.”

understand not everyone will accept this answer given the way the church has
eroded the trust of our people,” he said. “My hope is that we can repair the
trust and faith of all Catholics and the wider community by virtue of our
actions and accountability in how we respond to this crisis.”

added, “What makes all this so difficult to understand is that it has been my
experience that when a priest is being vetted to be named a bishop, any doubt
or question concerning his faithfulness to his promise of celibacy would result
in removing his name from consideration to be named bishop.”

early August Father Ramsey provided a copy of his letter to Catholic News
Service. In it he said it took him “years to write and send” the letter. But
it was the second time he had attempted to tell church officials in writing.

During the time period he mentions
in the letter, 1986 to 1996, he says he was teaching at Immaculate Conception
Seminary at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. He writes of the accounts he’d
heard of Archbishop McCarrick’s repeated trips to a New Jersey beach house
where, after too many seminarians were invited for too few beds, “the
extra seminarian was then told that he could share the archbishop’s bed.”

“Some of these stories were not
presented to me as mere rumors but were told (to) me by persons directly
involved,” he wrote.

his statement Cardinal O’Malley said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “is
anxious to understand how Theodore McCarrick could have been named bishop, archbishop
and cardinal. We must be certain that this never happens again. That is why the
bishops’ conference is requesting an investigation by the Holy See with the
participation of lay people.

quoted Pope Francis’ statement released Aug. 20: “Let us beg forgiveness for
our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sins helps us to
acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows
us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed

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