Theodore McCarrick created 'a culture of fear and intimidation,' Seton Hall review finds

McCarrick created 'culture of fear and intimidation,' Seton Hall review finds

President's Hall, Seton Hall University. Credit: wikimedia/cc by sa 3.0
President's Hall, Seton Hall University. Credit: wikimedia/cc by sa 3.0

.- Disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick created a “culture of fear and intimidation” at the Seton Hall University seminary, according to a report released by the university on Aug. 27. 

“McCarrick used his position of power as then-Archbishop of Newark to sexually harass seminarians. No minors or other University students were determined to have been affected by McCarrick,” said the statement. 

Seton Hall is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Newark, which McCarrick led from 1988-2000. The Archbishop of Newark serves as president of the university’s board of trustees.

It is one of the oldest diocesan-run Catholic universities in the country and has about 10,000 students, including 6,000 undergraduates. Seton Hall is also home to Immaculate Conception Seminary and St. Andrew’s Hall college seminary.

The “independent, unrestricted review” was announced by interim university president Mary J. Meehan on Aug. 23 last year. It followed an Aug. 17 report published by CNA that detailed a series of allegations made by priests in the Archdiocese of Newark. 

Some of the priest’s accounts related to former archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Others detailed allegations of recent or ongoing behavior at the two seminaries, including a specific allegation concerning a former rector of St. Andrew’s Hall.

The review was conducted by the law firm Lantham & Watkins. It found that while Seton Hall University’s present Title IX policies are “consistent with state and federal law,” they were “not always followed” at Immaculate Conception Seminary or St. Andrew's Hall.

These policy lapses “resulted in incidents of sexual harassment going unreported to the University,” said the statement. 

“Individuals, communities and parishes across the country have been affected by former archbishop McCarrick and others who have profoundly and forever negatively altered so many lives,” the University statement said.

“The University community prays for all victims of harassment and abuse of any kind. Seton Hall remains committed to advancing its mission and providing seminarians, students, faculty, priests, staff and administrators with a safe and welcoming environment to learn, live and grow.”

Both seminaries and Seton Hall University are now fully in line with Title IX regulations, said the statement. 

The university also announced that it had developed a “series of proactive measures” to address the fallout of the McCarrick scandal among the community, and that “progress” had been made. 

The measures included a commitment to sharing as much of the report’s findings with the university community as is possible under privacy law. 

Additionally, the university announced that a new Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer would be hired to “ensure University-wide adherence to Title IX laws, policies, and practices” and the school will require Title IX training each year for everyone within the Seton Hall community. The school pledged to conduct “prompt reviews” of allegations of sexual harassment. 

The university also said that efforts were underway to “improve the structural relationship” between the main university, Immaculate Conception Seminary, and the Archdiocese of Newark, that will “enhance oversight, control and compliance to prevent recurrence” of past problems.

In October last year, the university was forced to respond to several reports that seminarians had been subjected to harassment on campus by other students, following the public scandal surrounding McCarrick.

“Recently my office has been informed of several instances of foul language and incivility being aimed at members of our Immaculate Conception Seminary,” wrote Meehan in an email sent to the university community on Oct. 15.

This behavior is “unacceptable,” she said, and “cannot be tolerated.”

The August 27 statement said that steps had been taken to “underscore the importance of Immaculate Conception Seminary and St. Andrew’s Seminary to Seton Hall’s Catholic identity,” and work to “better integrate” these schools with the university. 

Seton Hall University’s Board of Regents unanimously endorsed all of the proactive measures.

Tags: Archdiocese of Newark, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Seton Hall University