Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick was born in New York City on July 7, 1930 to Theodore Egan McCarrick and Margaret McLaughlin. The young McCarrick attended Catholic elementary school and Fordham Preparatory School. He studied in Europe for a year and a half before returning to Fordham University, his mind already made up to study for the priesthood. He entered St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, where he earned a BA in 1954 and a Master’s Degree in History in 1958. Francis Cardinal Spellman ordained him to the priesthood on May 31, 1958 in New York City. He went on to earn a second Master’s degree in Social Sciences and a Ph.D. in Sociology from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Father McCarrick’s first assignment was as assistant chaplain of Catholic University where he went on to serve as dean of students and as director of development. He was named president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce in 1965, where he was responsible for the intense development of the school as a major institution. That same year he received the title of monsignor from Pope Paul VI. In 1969, Terence Cardinal Cooke recalled Msgr. McCarrick to New York to serve as associate secretary for education and an assistant priest at Blessed Sacrament parish from 1969-1971 and then as the Cardinal’s Secretary from 1971-1977.
In 1977, Pope Paul VI named Msgr. McCarrick Auxiliary Bishop of New York. While auxiliary bishop, he served as Vicar of East Manhattan and the Harlems. In 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed him to be the first Bishop of Metuchen, a newly-established diocese in New Jersey. From 1986 until his appointment to the Archdiocese of Washington, he served as the fourth Archbishop of Newark.
In 1986 and again in 1992, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) elected then-Archbishop McCarrick to head its Committee on Migration. In 1992, he also was named to head the Committee for Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe; in 1996, as chair of the Committee on International Policy; and in 2001, as Chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee. Other USCCB committees on which the Cardinal has served are Administrative, Doctrine, Laity, Latin America and the Missions. He was elected one of 15 U.S. bishops to serve as a member of the Synod for America held in 1997. At the conclusion of that Synod, the bishops elected him to serve on the Post Synodal Council.
A founding member of the Papal Foundation, he has served as its president since 1997. Cardinal McCarrick also is a member of the Board of Catholic Relief Services. For the Vatican, he serves on the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.
He has visited many nations as a human rights advocate and to survey humanitarian needs. These include China, Cuba, Iran, Vietnam, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Rwanda and Burundi. He also has traveled extensively in Eastern Europe and Central America. In November 1996, then-Archbishop McCarrick was invited to serve on the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad and from 1999-2001, he was a member of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom.
In January 2000, the President of Lebanon named him an Officer of the Order of the Cedars of Lebanon and in December 2000, the president of the United States presented him with the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights, just two of many honors he has received.
On January 2, 2001, he was installed as Archbishop of Washington, a position he held until May 16, 2006.