According to Figueiredo, McCarrick wrote in a letter to Sambi after that meeting that “having studied the letter of Cardinal Re and having shared it with my Archbishop, I pledge again that I shall always try to be a good servant of the Church even if I do not understand its desires in my life. Of course, I am ready to accept the Holy Father’s will in my regard."
“I could find a place to live in one of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Washington. The Archbishop is willing to arrange for that in any area that the Holy See would desire,” McCarrick apparently added.
“In summary, in the future I will make no commitments to accept any public appearances or talks without the express permission of the Apostolic Nuncio or the Holy See itself.”
After leaving the seminary residence in early 2009, McCarrick moved into a specially renovated suite of rooms at the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Woodley Park, an upscale neighborhood in central Washington D.C.
In August, a priest resident in the parish in 2008-2009 told CNA that he been told McCarrick was “no longer allowed” to live in the seminary, and that Cardinal Wuerl had “ordered” the move, but he stressed that he did not have direct knowledge of those circumstances.
In August 2018, Figueiredo made public statements in support of Vigano.
“I know him personally,” Figueuiredo said at the time. “I know him as a man of great integrity, honest to the core.”
The excerpts from Figueiredo’s correspondence also appear to confirm reports that McCarrick played an ongoing, though sometimes unofficial, role in Vatican diplomatic efforts, especially in China, during the pontificates of both Benedict XVI and Francis.
However, sources at the Congregation for Bishops in Rome told CNA that Figueiredo’s excerpts offer only “partial” context for McCarrick’s apparent ability to work around the imposition of restrictions on his ministry.
“McCarrick was very good at exploiting the left and right hands not speaking,” an official at the Congregation for Bishops said.
“[Cardinal] Re could tell [McCarrick] ‘No appearances, no living here,’ and then [McCarrick] would go to Bertone and present himself as being available for discreet use, ask to travel somewhere and use the conflicting instructions to slip through the cracks.”
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Another official close to the Congregation said that McCarrick exploited a curial culture which resisted plain speaking.
“He would talk and write about needing to keep a low profile, about having to change residence, but never explicitly say why. Those that knew didn’t need it to be spelled out, those that didn’t but suspected were smart enough not to ask,” he explained.
The same official told CNA that piecing together McCarrick’s complex engagement with various curial office is part of an investigation now being undertaken by the Congregation for Bishops at the direction of Pope Francis.
“The man made a total mess of the communications with Bishops, State, the Holy Father, the dioceses, everyone,” he said. “Anyone looking to check on him could find three different things in three different places.”
CNA has learned from senior sources in Rome that the Archdiocese of Washington has already completed a review of all of McCarrick’s personal correspondence and forwarded the results to Rome.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington declined to comment about that review.