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Cardinal on Sex Abuse Allegations: They Slipped My Mind

One alleged victim isn't buying that story from DC's Donald Wuerl
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2019 7:57 AM CST
In this Sept. 23, 2015, file photo Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, stands in the doorway of the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

(Newser) – Cardinal Donald Wuerl says there's a reason why he hasn't been completely forthcoming about abuse allegations against Theodore McCarrick, the man who held the post before him: He forgot he knew about them, or at least some of them, per the Washington Post. That's the story the DC archbishop—whose resignation was accepted by the pope in October for his mishandling of sex abuse cases—offered in a letter Tuesday to archdiocese priests, noting "there was never the intention to provide false information," although he did apologize "for this lapse of memory." The case Wuerl specifically referred to in the letter was that of Robert Ciolek, an ex-priest who accused McCarrick of sexual misconduct toward him when Ciolek was an adult seminarian and priest in the '80s. When McCarrick was suspended last summer, Wuerl twice denied knowing about any allegations against him, per CNN.

But Ciolek says he told Wuerl about his own accusations in 2004, and that Wuerl himself had forwarded them to the Vatican. Wuerl now says his denials about McCarrick had been about allegedly abused children, and that not mentioning the adult allegations had been an attempt to protect Ciolek's "confidentiality." Ciolek isn't having that, saying he'd asked Wuerl to keep his name out of things if possible, but also that it was OK if his name had to be revealed. He also notes Wuerl could've conceded he knew about the abuse allegations without mentioning his name, calling Wuerl "slippery, calculated, and conniving." Meanwhile, a National Catholic Register post asks: "Why didn't Cardinal Wuerl come clean?," offering four possibilities for his "puzzling and shocking behavior." Among them: He "had more to hide." Wuerl is still the diocese's acting administrator until the pope appoints his successor. (What led to Wuerl's resignation.)

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