WASHINGTON — Here is the text of a June 17, 2015, letter written by Father Boniface Ramsey, administrator of a parish in the New York Archdiocese, about Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick and claims of the archbishop’s sexual improprieties with seminarians that Father Ramsey heard from some of the young men themselves. He sent it to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, who has headed the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since it was established in 2014. Father Ramsey provided a copy of the letter to Paul Haring, senior photographer in the Rome bureau of Catholic News Service:
17 June 2015
Sean Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M.Cap.
Archbishop of Boston
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, Massachusetts 02184
Dear Cardinal O’Malley,
I am writing to you about a delicate matter, about which in fact I contacted Archbishop Montalvo, the Apostolic Nuncio, in November 2000. I feel that, after thinking about it for several years, I should make a second contact — this time with you. The matter does not have to do with the abuse of minors, but it does have to do with a form of sexual abuse/harassment/intimidation or maybe simply high-jinks as practiced by Theodore Cardinal McCarrick with his seminarians and perhaps other young men when he was the Archbishop of Newark.
From 1986 to 1996 I taught patrology at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University and for much of that time served there as a mentor and spiritual director. (I was a Dominican at the time and am now a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.) Early on in my tenure at the seminary I heard from several seminarians that Archbishop McCarrick was in the habit of inviting seminarians to his house on the New Jersey Shore — always one more seminarian than there were beds; the extra seminarian was then told that he could share the archbishop’s bed. Archbishop McCarrick would ask the rector of the seminary to find seminarians to go to his beach house, which the rector apparently did with a great deal of reluctance, not knowing how to refuse his ordinary. The rector was a man whom I admired, and a friend. When I had a chance to speak with him about this, I believe that he resolved to resist the archbishop, and I think that he did. I am not sure, however, that the archbishop ceased his invitations. There were also stories of seminarians and seminarian-age young men sharing the archbishop’s residence, of special privileges (like studying in Rome) for his “nephews,” and so forth. Some of these stories were not presented to me as mere rumors but were told me by persons directly involved.
Initially I kept this information to myself, viewing it as a natural secret, but I eventually discovered that it was rather widely known in the archdiocese and even further abroad, which made me feel that I was released from observing any confidentiality. I spoke with Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly of Louisville, a friend of mine, sometime in the 1990s, and he said that stories about Archbishop McCarrick had been circulating among the American bishops, and he himself mentioned one story involving a flight attendant (whom I knew at the seminary and who was expelled for preying on another seminarian).
When Archbishop McCarrick was named Archbishop of Washington in November 2000, I decided to inform the nuncio about what I knew. First I called him, spoke with him directly about the situation, and asked if he would receive a letter from me. He said yes. The next day I reconsidered, and then I called him and said that I had had second thoughts about sending him my letter. He told me in no uncertain terms that I should send it, and so I did. I never received any acknowledgement, although I have certain knowledge that the letter was received and that the information was forwarded to somewhere in the Vatican.
I found it shocking at the time that Archbishop McCarrick was ever advanced to the Archdiocese of Washington, since I have little doubt that many persons in the Vatican were aware of his proclivities before he was named. And then, of course, on to the cardinalate, which was to be expected for the Archbishop of Washington, but still distressing.
These days, when the former nuncio to the Dominican Republic is going to go to trial for child abuse and the Archbishop of Saint Paul has just resigned over the same issue, when a Scottish cardinal has recently been disgraced for sexual misbehavior with his priests, it seems bizarre to me that Cardinal McCarrick is out and about, a conspicuous presence at religious (including papal) events, being interviewed, giving speeches, serving on committees, and the like. Was not what he did at the very least highly questionable? Was it not taking advantage of young men who did not know how to say no to their archbishop? Has it not, for the many laity and clergy who were aware of his actions, contributed to cynicism about the Church and the hierarchy?
I am not sure whether Cardinal McCarrick’s past actions come under your purview, but if they do, all the better. If not, perhaps you would forward this letter to the proper agency in the Vatican.
I am grateful for any attention that you may give to this letter, which it has taken me years to decide to write and send.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
(Rev.) Boniface Ramsey