Robert Lynam

Cardinal Ted McCarrick, Part II: The New York Times takes a stab at this old story

Cardinal Ted McCarrick, Part II: The New York Times takes a stab at this old story

I’d heard that at least one major newspaper was at work on l’affaire McCarrick. On Tuesday, there it was: A double-bylined piece in the New York Times.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the now-retired head of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was famous in his prime for being a mover, shaker and chief fundraiser in the church. He was also a sexual molester of young, handsome male seminarians; something several of us reporters knew at the time. But, as I explained here, none of us could prove it, and the victims who could have helped us refused to go on the record.

Then in June, two dioceses released the shocking news that McCarrick had been credibly accused of sexually molesting a 16-year-old altar boy 47 years ago.

Now, the Times, via its Sunday magazine, already had this story in 2012 when a freelancer managed to document a number of the important details.

But that story never ran. Six years later -– and with McCarrick in his dotage, and out of power -– the nation's most powerful newspaper has finally published this 3,054-word piece.

Better late than never, I suppose. But there are some odd holes in this narrative.

As a young man studying to be a priest in the 1980s, Robert Ciolek was flattered when his brilliant, charismatic bishop in Metuchen, N.J., Theodore E. McCarrick, told him he was a shining star, cut out to study in Rome and rise high in the church.

Bishop McCarrick began inviting him on overnight trips, sometimes alone and sometimes with other young men training to be priests. There, the bishop would often assign Mr. Ciolek to share his room, which had only one bed. The two men would sometimes say night prayers together, before Bishop McCarrick would make a request — “come over here and rub my shoulders a little”— that extended into unwanted touching in bed.

Mr. Ciolek, who was in his early 20s at the time, said he felt unable to say no, in part because he had been sexually abused by a teacher in his Catholic high school, a trauma he had shared with the bishop.

“I trusted him, I confided in him, I admired him,” Mr. Ciolek said in an interview this month, the first time he has spoken publicly about the abuse, which lasted for several years while Mr. Ciolek was a seminarian and later a priest. “I couldn’t imagine that he would have anything other than my best interests in mind.”

I’m glad the Times finally got Ciolek to fess up. I called him nine years ago and he refused to comment. Other reporters had called him, too.

The Times story later says he was paid an $80,000 settlement by the Church in 2005 that insured his silence on what McCarrick had done to him. Seriously?

Please respect our Commenting Policy