The 1999 letter from O'Connor is included in the 449-page McCarrick Report on pages 131-140. The report indicates that "it is reasonable to infer" that Bishop James T. McHugh, the former auxiliary bishop of Newark, and Bishop Edward T. Hughes, the bishop emeritus of Metuchen, were O'Connor's sources of information regarding these allegations.
O'Connor wrote that John Paul II had made clear to him in a meeting early in the summer of 1999 that he was considering appointing McCarrick to another diocese, potentially as O'Connor's successor in New York.
After this, O'Connor expressed concern to the nuncio Montalvo in late July, saying that he was aware of "some elements of a moral nature that advised against" McCarrick's consideration. Montalvo requested that O'Connor put his concerns in writing.
O'Connor's letter is dated Oct. 28, only weeks after the cardinal's release from hospital following surgery to remove a brain tumor. O'Connor died from this tumor the following May.
In the letter, O'Connor wrote that he was concerned by events related to him by "absolutely impeccable authorities as occurring in the Archdiocese of Newark during this past year."
Among these is that "after Archbishop McCarrick was appointed as Ordinary, it was said that he would frequently invite male visitors for dinner and to stay overnight. Usually they shared a bed, although there were sufficient guestrooms … This did not become known outside the house, but it was a cause of concern for those who live there."
Cardinal O'Connor also recommended to the nuncio several people that he could follow up with for further information regarding McCarrick, including Bishop McHugh and the attorney of the Archdiocese of Newark, Thomas Durkin, noting that the lawyer had "spoken with him [McCarrick] very forthrightly about rumors and allegations cited above."
Upon receiving the letter, Montalvo forwarded it to the Congregation for Bishops and to the Secretariat of State. Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re, at that time the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, informed Pope John Paul II of Cardinal O'Connor's letter, according to the report.
Montalvo left it to Re to "inform the Holy Father as to the matter in the manner you deem appropriate," according to a handwritten note sent to Re.
O'Connor's letter was sent the day after a letter sent by Nuncio Montalvo to the Congregation for Bishops describing Washington Cardinal James Aloysius Hickey's endorsement of McCarrick as his first choice for the New York see, and acknowledging concern from Cardinal Bernard Francis Law that "vague allusions are enough to damage the position of a person."
At the request of John Paul II, in response to the allegations recorded in O'Connor's letter, separate but "substantively identical letters" were sent to Bishops Vincent Breen and Edward Hughes of Metuchen, Bishop James McHugh of Rockville Centre, and Bishop John Smith of Trenton on May 12, 2000, asking for the truth about McCarrick.
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"Three of the four American bishops provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the Holy See regarding McCarrick's sexual conduct with young adults," the report concluded.
The bishops presenting false information were Hughes, Smith, and McHugh.
The letter of Bishop Hughes, who succeeded McCarrick in Metuchen, told the Holy See that: "I have no factual information that would clearly indicate any moral weakness on the part of Archbishop McCarrick."
Hughes' letter dismissed the accounts of some priests who had reported to him being molested or abused by McCarrick, even when, in one case, a psychologist affirmed that the priest had been McCarrick's victim. Hughes noted moral lapses on the part of the priests accusing McCarrick, while dismissing their claims against the archbishop.
In fact, the bishop's letter did not mention at all some incidents of sexual abuse or coercion that had been reported to him by Metuchen priests, according to the report.
While in O'Connor's letter written months before, O'Connor wrote that Hughes, then bishop of Metuchen, had handled the problem by the New Jersey beach house "personally and secretly."