The disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living since 2018.
A spokesman for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad told CNA Jan. 7 that McCarrick left St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas, just days ago. He has moved to a residential community of priests who have been removed from ministry, senior Church officials said.
The former cardinal made the decision to leave the Kansas friary himself over the Christmas period, sources say, adding that his continued presence in the friary had become a strain on the Franciscan community that was hosting him.
McCarrick moved to the friary shortly after he was accused in 2018 of sexually abusing minors, seminarians, and young priests. McCarrick’s new location remains undisclosed. Sources told CNA that the former cardinal arranged his new accommodation for himself, adding that the residence to which he has moved is “rather secluded and away from public attention.”
“McCarrick remains a guest at his new accommodation, but he is funding his own stay and is there by his own choice – no one can make him stay if he does not wish to,” a Church official said.
Sources familiar with McCarrick’s situation told CNA that both the Kansas friary and McCarrick had been concerned that a forthcoming report on the former cardinal’s career, due to be released by the Vatican in the near future, would bring disruptive media attention to the friary.
McCarrick apparently hopes the new “secluded” location will limit media attempts to contact him in the event of renewed interest in his case, a Church official said.
“It is not a secret where he is, but it is private, and for the good of the community I don’t think there will be a public announcement of it at this point,” the official said.
“He left on his own accord,” Rev. Joseph Mary Elder, a spokesman for the Capuchin province, told CNA Jan. 7. “It was his decision.”
Elder said he was not aware of where McCarrick had moved.
In June 2019 Elder told CNA that McCarrick, 89, “is in poor health and remains under a supervision plan.”
“At this point, the length of his stay is indeterminate, but he is looking for lodgings closer to his family. There is no timetable for when or if that might happen,” Elder said in June of McCarrick’s residence at the friary.
“Mr. McCarrick follows the everyday life and routine of a friar with the exception of public ministry; he lives in the same type of room as the friars, joins in the community prayers and the celebration of the Mass, and participates in community meals and interactions,” the priest added at that time.
In August, McCarrick told Slate magazine that “I’m not as bad as they paint me.”
“I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of,” McCarrick told Slate, in the only interview he has given since allegations regarding his sexual abuse of minors emerged in June 2018.
McCarrick was Archbishop of Washington from 2000 until 2006. He resigned from the College of Cardinals in July 2018, and took up residence in the friary that September.
In February 2019, he was found by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “guilty of the following delicts while a cleric: solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”
McCarrick was laicized in February 2019, but remained in residence at the friary.
McCarrick told Slate in August 2019 that didn’t ever leave the friary while he resided there, even to enter the adjoining Basilica of St. Fidelis; a condition of his residence was that he remain on the grounds of the friary. He indicated that he spendt much of his time in the chapel and the library.
McCarrick discussed in particular the accusations that he had solicited James Grein during confession: “The thing about the confession, it’s a horrible thing. I was a priest for 60 years, and I would never have done anything like that … That was horrible, to take the holy sacrament and to make it a sinful thing.”
The former cleric told Slate that he thinks men who said he abused them while they were seminarians during weekend trips to his New Jersey beach house “were encouraged” to develop similar stories, attributing this encouragement to unnamed “enemies.”
“There were many who were in that situation who never had any problems like that,” he said.