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    Polish archbishop defends John Paul II over revelations the late pope dismissed sexual abuse allegations against ex-cardinal for years

    St. John Paul II was “cynically deceived” by a number of U.S. bishops when he downplayed sexual abuse allegations against ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, according to the president of the Polish bishops conference

    On Friday, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki refuted the findings of an explosive report released by the Vatican earlier this week that explicitly blamed the late pontiff in a cover-up scandal involving the disgraced former archbishop of Washington, D.C.

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    The once-influential American cardinal was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019, after a Vatican investigation found him guilty of “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,” the National Catholic Reporter reported at the time.

    John Paul II, now a Catholic saint, knew about sexual misconduct allegations against McCarrick, according to the Vatican report. But to Gadecki, his blame is unfounded.

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    “Before McCarrick’s nomination to Washington, the pope did not receive from the American bishops full and complete information about his moral behavior, and McCarrick himself lied — in a letter of Aug. 6, 2000 — that he had no sexual relations with anyone,” the statement reads, according to a translation by the Catholic News Agency.

    Pope John Paul II
    Pope John Paul II (GERARD JULIEN/AFP via Getty Images)

    Gadecki was referring to some of the findings revealed in the 449-page report, which was published by the Secretariat of State on Tuesday after a two-year-long investigation.

    Specifically, the archbishop was referring to a section in the report that said that John Paul II asked an ecclesiastical diplomat to the U.S. in 2000 to contact four New Jersey bishops to ask whether McCarrick had acted improperly with young adults.

    Even though the bishops confirmed that McCarrick, then the archbishop of Newark, did share a bed with young men, they “did not indicate with certainty that McCarrick had engaged in any sexual misconduct.”

    The Aug. 6, 2000 letter referred by Gadecki shows McCarrick lying, while firmly denying all accusations.

    “In the 70 years of my life, I have never had sexual relations with any person, male or female, young or old, cleric or lay, nor have I ever abused another person or treated them with disrespect,” he wrote.

    McCarrick rose to the top of the Catholic Church in the U.S. after he was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York in 1958.

    According to the Vatican report, the late Polish pontiff appointed McCarrick as archbishop of Washington in 2000, and then a cardinal in 2001, despite knowing about repeated misconduct allegations against him.

    In February 2019, Pope Francis confirmed the removal from the priesthood of McCarrick, who was then 88, after a panel of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty on Jan. 11.

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