The Vatican released a report Tuesday saying that late Pope John Paul II knew about allegations of sexual misconduct against now defrocked Theodore McCarrick and promoted him through the ranks of the Catholic Church anyway.
John Paul II promoted McCarrick to be archbishop of Washington in 2000 and cardinal in 2001. At the time of his promotion to archbishop, the pope had been briefed on allegations that McCarrick engaged in sexual misconduct with adults in various situations and knew that anonymous letters accused him of child sex abuse. The incidents reportedly occurred during his tenure as a bishop (1981 to 1986) and as archbishop of Newark (1986 to 2000).
The Vatican report is based in part on interviews with people who allege that McCarrick abused or assaulted them. It also says that John Paul's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, requested McCarrick resign in 2005 after allegations of harassment and abuse were brought up again. The Vatican's Office for Bishops also asked the archbishop in 2006 and 2008 to resign.
The report says that Pope Francis first received "documentation regarding allegations against McCarrick" in 2017.
"Pope Francis had heard only that there had been allegations and rumors related to immoral conduct with adults occurring prior to McCarrick's appointment to Washington," the report reads, in part.
It also says that Francis believed "that the allegations had already been reviewed and rejected by Pope John Paul II."
It was not until 2018, when McCarrick was directly accused of sexually abusing a child, that the church took decisive action against him. In 2018, Francis terminated him from the clergy, reportedly right after after the accusation arose.
A church proceeding found him guilty of child sex abuse in 2019, and the Catholic Church defrocked him. A lawsuit filed in July accuses McCarrick of running a child sex ring out of a New Jersey beach house in the 1980s.