NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - The current pastor at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan said that he warned church leaders 30 years ago about the inappropriate behavior of the now disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Father Boniface Ramsey told Fox 5 that his complaints about McCarrick's inappropriate behavior with young seminarians were ignored. He said he even sent a letter about his concerns to the Vatican.
But McCarrick's career in the church grew.
"It was certainly entirely inappropriate if nothing else," Ramsey said. "Even if there was no sexual contact, it was so inappropriate as to be astonishing."
McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in July following shocking allegations he sexually abused children and young seminarians for decades. McCarrick has denied these accusations and remains in seclusion.
In 1988, Ramsey was teaching at Seton Hall University in Newark, New Jersey. At that time, McCarrick was the archbishop of Newark. Ramsey told Fox 5 that he heard disturbing information from young men studying to become priests.
"McCarrick would invite seminarians to his beach house in, I believe, Sea Girt, New Jersey. He would always invite five seminarians and there were five beds," Ramsey said. "There were six people, in other words, McCarrick and five seminarians—meaning one of those seminarians had to sleep McCarrick."
Ramsey reported what he heard to the rector of the seminary. Instead of being punished, McCarrick moved on to become the archbishop in Washington, D.C.
Ramsey was so concerned that in 2000 he warned the pope's representative in Washington about McCarrick. Not only did nothing happen to McCarrick, a year later Pope John Paul II elevated McCarrick to cardinal.
"People knew, including the hierarchy," Ramsey said. "They knew that this was going on."
Ramsey would not see McCarrick again until March 2015 at the funeral for Cardinal Edward Egan at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. His anger prompted Ramsey once again for the third time in three decades to make his concerns about McCarrick known to the church hierarchy.
He wrote a letter to Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, who was in charge of investigating and setting policy for the widening priest sex abuse scandal. O'Malley's secretary never gave him Ramsey's letter. O'Malley has since apologized for never reading the letter.
McCarrick would stay on the job for three more years before resigning in disgrace last month.
Ramsey said he never heard reports that McCarrick had sexually abused children until a month ago. His concern was at the time for the young seminarians who he felt were being put in harm's way.