Archbishop Gregory calls for 'transparency and contrition' after McCarrick Report

Gregory in clerics at ambo 1 Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. | Georgia Bulletin/Michael Alexander

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., called for transparency after the Vatican's release of the McCarrick Report last week.

In a statement on Monday, Archbishop Gregory, who will be made a cardinal by Pope Francis later this month, called the report's release on Nov. 10 "a step forward, albeit much delayed" in examining Theodore McCarrick's rise to becoming a cardinal, and the need for "accountability" among bishops.

Gregory said that the Church must overcome "challenges to our integrity" to move forward, which "will require time and transparency, contrition and commitment, prayer and reconciliation, authenticity and humility."

The McCarrick Report, published last Tuesday, covers the Church's "institutional knowledge and decision-making" regarding Theodore McCarrick, the former American cardinal who was laicized in 2019 after a Vatican investigation found him guilty of "sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power."

McCarrick was also found guilty of "solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession."

In his statement on Monday, Gregory said that he "began reading" the report with an eye toward "how our beleaguered Archdiocese would be portrayed," but soon realized that it needed to be read with McCarrick's victims as the primary focus.

The report "demands to be viewed through the eyes of the survivors and their loved ones without prejudice to where they may have first encountered Theodore McCarrick or where they may be today," Gregory said.

McCarrick led the Diocese of Metuchen and Archdiocese of Newark, both in New Jersey, before becoming Archbishop of Washington in 2001. He retired in 2006.

"As has happened too often in recent history, [the report] revealed to me and to you dark corners of our Church of which I am deeply ashamed and profoundly angry – again," Gregory said. 

"It pushed into sunlight a culture that has too often served not to build up our cherished Catholic Church – Jesus Christ's greatest Gift to us – but to undermine it, far beyond the amoral ecclesiastical tenure of a single fallen cleric."

Gregory said that "Those of us in leadership have too often failed to understand, to acknowledge, to respond to, and to prevent the damage done to our innocent faithful – minors and adults."

"In the report there were mercifully no revelations of sexual abuse alleged to have been perpetrated in this Archdiocese [of Washington]," said Gregory, "and while I am of course grateful for that, it provides little comfort." 

"I promise you with all my heart that our vigilance in the Archdiocese of Washington will continue – we will support the healing of those who have been harmed, our protocols for reporting and responding to these crimes will continue unabated and with renewed vigor, our safe environment efforts on behalf of those of every age will reflect the very best practices available."

Archbishop Gregory has frequently emphasized the need for honesty and transparency in his leadership of the Archdiocese of Washington. When he took possession of the archdiocese last year, Gregory told Catholics that "the only way I can serve this local archdiocese is by telling you the truth."

All of McCarrick's previous dioceses conducted their own review of internal records and correspondence concerning McCarrick, and transmitted their findings to the Vatican for inclusion in the McCarrick Report. 

CNA has made several requests to the Archdiocese of Washington, which Gregory has led since May 2019, to release documents and files related to the McCarrick investigation but the archdiocese has thus far declined to do so.

Gregory's statement on Monday did not address archdiocesan files, or indicate if he will order the release of material related to McCarrick's time in charge of the archdiocese.

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The McCarrick Report also mentioned McCarrick's personal finances, and his history as a prolific fundraiser and gift giver within the Catholic hierarchy, but concluded that those things had not played a role in securing his rise through the clerical ranks. 

Details confirmed in the report highlight unanswered questions about McCarrick's personal charitable fund, which he supposedly used for charitable and "miscellaneous" expenses in the Archdiocese of Washington.

McCarrick established his Archbishop's Fund while Archbishop of Newark, and kept control of the fund while Archbishop of Washington until 2018, when abuse allegations against him were publicly reported to be credible.

The Archdiocese of Washington on several occasions has declined to answer questions from CNA about the details of McCarrick's fund-including whether money in the fund was used by McCarrick to pay abuse settlements. 

As CNA has reported, McCarrick moved hundreds of thousands of dollars through the fund and made individual gifts to fellow bishops and even senior Vatican figures.  

In 2018 and 2019, CNA asked the Archdiocese of Washington about the sources, sums, and uses of the money in McCarrick's fund, but did not receive answers to those questions. The archdiocese has also declined to comment on whether Archbishop Gregory would disclose the names of bishop whoe received money from the fund.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this report said that Archbishop Gregory has led the Archdiocese of Washington since February, 2019.

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Archbishop Gregory's appointment was announced in February but he did not take control of the archdiocese until May, 2019. This article has been ammended to clarify this.

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