Robert Ciolek

The 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick saga continues: A second priest spills all to the Washington Post

The 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick saga continues: A second priest spills all to the Washington Post

The second shoe dropped Saturday when the Washington Post came out with the on-the-record account of another priest who’d been sexually abused by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

By “shoes,” I mean the three former New Jersey priests who filed lawsuits against the Catholic Church or one of its dioceses regarding McCarrick. The first ‘shoe’ was Robert Ciolek, who went public early on in this saga. The other two were refusing to talk until now.

When reading this story, let’s keep the big picture in mind. The key questions remain: Who moved McCarrick higher and higher in the church, while reports circulated about his private affairs? Who protected him later? Who benefited from his favors?

Now, back to the new chapter in this story:

Less than a week after Theodore McCarrick became the first cardinal ever defrocked, a New Jersey priest has for the first time agreed to be interviewed about his accusations that McCarrick sexually abused him in the 1990s and the effect the alleged abuse has had on his life and career.

In exclusive interviews with the Post, the Rev. Lauro Sedlmayer said the interactions with McCarrick, who was then his archbishop, in Newark, set off a downward spiral that severely damaged his psyche and career. Now 61, the priest says he told three bishops but nothing was done.

Note the crucial detail: Bishops were informed about this and nothing happened.

The Post folks have known about this guy since last summer. I wrote about that here, but it’s taken eight months for this guy to go on the record. Better late than never.

The Brazilian-born Sedlmayer has been in a tense stand-off with his superiors for a decade, with both sides filing lawsuits and accusations of sexual and financial impropriety on each side.

Sedlmayer says much of his troubles began with what he recently described in written testimony to Vatican officials investigating McCarrick as “sexual battery.”

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Cardinal Ted McCarrick, Part II: The New York Times takes a stab at this old story

Cardinal Ted McCarrick, Part II: The New York Times takes a stab at this old story

I’d heard that at least one major newspaper was at work on l’affaire McCarrick. On Tuesday, there it was: A double-bylined piece in the New York Times.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the now-retired head of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was famous in his prime for being a mover, shaker and chief fundraiser in the church. He was also a sexual molester of young, handsome male seminarians; something several of us reporters knew at the time. But, as I explained here, none of us could prove it, and the victims who could have helped us refused to go on the record.

Then in June, two dioceses released the shocking news that McCarrick had been credibly accused of sexually molesting a 16-year-old altar boy 47 years ago.

Now, the Times, via its Sunday magazine, already had this story in 2012 when a freelancer managed to document a number of the important details.

But that story never ran. Six years later -– and with McCarrick in his dotage, and out of power -– the nation's most powerful newspaper has finally published this 3,054-word piece.

Better late than never, I suppose. But there are some odd holes in this narrative.

As a young man studying to be a priest in the 1980s, Robert Ciolek was flattered when his brilliant, charismatic bishop in Metuchen, N.J., Theodore E. McCarrick, told him he was a shining star, cut out to study in Rome and rise high in the church.

Bishop McCarrick began inviting him on overnight trips, sometimes alone and sometimes with other young men training to be priests. There, the bishop would often assign Mr. Ciolek to share his room, which had only one bed. The two men would sometimes say night prayers together, before Bishop McCarrick would make a request — “come over here and rub my shoulders a little”— that extended into unwanted touching in bed.

Mr. Ciolek, who was in his early 20s at the time, said he felt unable to say no, in part because he had been sexually abused by a teacher in his Catholic high school, a trauma he had shared with the bishop.

“I trusted him, I confided in him, I admired him,” Mr. Ciolek said in an interview this month, the first time he has spoken publicly about the abuse, which lasted for several years while Mr. Ciolek was a seminarian and later a priest. “I couldn’t imagine that he would have anything other than my best interests in mind.”

I’m glad the Times finally got Ciolek to fess up. I called him nine years ago and he refused to comment. Other reporters had called him, too.

The Times story later says he was paid an $80,000 settlement by the Church in 2005 that insured his silence on what McCarrick had done to him. Seriously?

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The scandal of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and why no major media outed him

The scandal of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and why no major media outed him

On Election Day 2008, I was not following the historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency.

Instead, I was meeting up with a priest. At the time, I was religion editor for the Washington Times.

The documents he gave me were sensational. At first I thought it was about a priest who’d been forced out of the priesthood because he’d been caught fondling two teen-aged boys. Then I read why the priest had done this. In layman’s terms: He said he was an emotional and spiritual mess after having been sexually assaulted in 1987 by none less than then-Newark Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

Now, perhaps many of you have read yesterday’s news about McCarrick, who went on to become cardinal for the see of Washington, D.C., a most prestigious post. This UPI story describes the bare-bones of the matter:

Retired Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Newark, N.J., and Washington, D.C., announced he was stepping down from the ministry Wednesday amid allegations of sexual abuse.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of New York said the Vatican secretary of state, at the direction of Pope Francis, asked McCarrick to step down from the ministry.

Rocco Palmo, the blogmeister for the Vatican-insider blog “Whispers in the Loggia” announced yesterday that McCarrick is the highest-ranking U.S. prelate to be charged with sex misconduct to date. He has some other important details that are a must-read.

More from UPI:

The allegations against McCarrick stem from the abuse of a teenager nearly 50 years ago, while the former archbishop was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York ...

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