Criminal statutes of limitation may prevent McCarrick from being charged with crimes relating to the abuse alleged Monday. A canonical statute of limitations, known technically as prescription, might also preclude the possibility that McCarrick face canonical charges for the alleged abuse, although the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is authorized to waive that statute in certain circumstances.
Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, told CNA Thursday that the archdiocese learned of these allegations only when the New York Times article was published.
The archdiocese has not heard from law enforcement agencies about this matter, or from the alleged victim or his attorney, Zwilling said, adding that he hopes the victim or his attorney will contact the archdiocese, directly, or through the archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, an independently managed entity designed to assist victims of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of New York.
A source close to McCarrick told CNA that he had not received any official notification of the allegation and is therefore unable to respond. The source said the cardinal is committed to following the processes put in place by Church authorities regarding the allegations.
On June 20, the Archdiocese of New York, announced that it had concluded an investigation into a different allegation that McCarrick had sexually abused a teenager, finding the claim to be “credible and substantiated.”
The Vatican was informed of that accusation, and as a result, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, by order of Pope Francis, prohibited McCarrick, 88, from public ministry.
Since that announcement, media reports have detailed additional allegations, charging that McCarrick sexually abused, assaulted, or coerced seminarians and young priests during his time as a bishop. The Diocese of Metuchen and Archdiocese of Newark disclosed that they had recevied reports that McCarrick engaged in sexual misconduct with adults, and reached legal and financial settlements in two cases.
The cardinal is prohibited from contact with minors in the Archdiocese of Washington, pursuant to the archdiocesan safe environment polices, a spokesman for the archdiocese told CNA, though that prohibition was not been publicly announced when McCarrick's prohibition from public ministry June 20.
Until recently, McCarrick was resident at a DC-area Catholic nursing-care facility administered by religious sisters, sources tell CNA that he is no longer living there.
The Vatican has not announced if McCarrick will face canonical charges related to the initial allegation of sexual abuse. Sources tell CNA that the matter is being addressed at the Vatican under the direct supervision of Pope Francis.
This story was updated July 20 and is developing.