When Archbishop McCarrick came to the Archdiocese it was the seventh largest diocese in the United States (in population). In a effort to serve the Archdiocese's significant Hispanic population, he implemented a pastoral plan for continued ministry to Hispanics. He also established an office to coordinate the many needed services to people infected with H.I.V., as well as a comprehensive drug prevention program. Additionally, the Archbishop took steps to serve all of the diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the Archdiocese by opening on Office of Evangelization.
Archbishop McCarrick served as chairman of the United States Bishops' Committee of Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe from 1992 to 1997. In this capacity he tried to help the ongoing political and ethnic struggle of the area formerly known as Yugoslavia. He visited this war-torn area many times as part of his official duties. Included in that roster, McCarrick traveled through all of Eastern Europe from the Baltics to Kozahhstan on behalf of the US Bishops Conference.
As a member of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Conference , the Archbishop was twice elected to head its committee on Migration. In this capacity, he asked the U. S. Congress, "to recognize and support the important task of nurturing new citizens so that they may begin to play a full role in the future of this nation." Pope John Paul II appointed the Archbishop as a Member of the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and People on the Move.
During the 1980's, Archbishop McCarrick served as an official observer to the Helsinki Commission many times. In 1987 he traveled to Poland and Romania to observe the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. In 1988 he was asked by the US State Department to observe the Helsinki Commission in Moscow. The State Department called on him again to serve as part of the Commission Delegation in 1991.
Perhaps one of the most ground-breaking events the Archbishop has played a part in was a 1988 meeting with Fidel Castro in Cuba. This was an interfaith meeting and the first of its kind since the Communist Revolution occurred in Cuba (1958). This gathering of religious leaders with Castro was designed to improve the religious atmosphere there.
Because of his experience in overseas affairs, he was elected Chairman of the USCC Committee on International Policy in 1996, and has met with many government leaders including Presidents Bush and Clinton on these matters.
Another great contribution which took place during his service if the Continue the Mission drive, the five year Capital Campaign that has successfully helped to keep the Archdiocese solvent.
McCarrick also serves as President of the Papal Foundation and Chairman of the New Jersey Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is also a Member of the Board of the Loyola Foundation. On December 8, 1990 he was chosen to be placed in the Ellis Island Hall of Fame. McCarrick was given this honor as a representative of Irish Immigrant Families.
He has championed the cause of the unborn. His 1989 Pastoral Letter on Abortion makes his and the Church's view clear as he wrote, "since the media sometimes can confuse and cloud issues, and since political factors can often muddy the waters of discussion, you and I must return time and time again to that one basic message. We are those who believe in life."
Archbishop McCarrick has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America for the cause of human rights. His visits to China in 1992 and to Cuba in 1988 were done as a member of the Appeal to Conscience Foundation.
Additionally, he called for the Tenth Archdiocesan Synod to shape the future of the See of Newark into the next century. In continuation of the Archdiocese's long standing commitment to education, McCarrick stated an important goal in his 1994 Pastoral Letter in Response to the Synod, "the need of greater faith education for young people and their ability to play a role in the Church. I have no doubt that this intensely felt need for greater participation in the life of the archdiocese by young people is truly an impulse of the Holy Spirit and a call to us to provide for the future of the Church of Newark." Archbishop McCarrick thus expressed his concern with the life and welfare of all of the Church people.
In June of 1995, McCarrick had the honor of hosting Mother Teresa at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart where she accepted the vows of ten Sisters. This marked the Nobel prize winning Sister's third visit to Newark.
Pope John Paul II visited in October of that same year. On October 4th, Evening Prayer Serves were held in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, where even cloistered nuns came to join the momentous celebration. President and Mrs. Clinton also attended the service which marked the first time in United States history that a president and a pope were at the same church service.
That night, in a conversation between Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop, the Cathedral received a new honor. The Cathedral would become a minor basilica. This distinction made it the only one in New Jersey and one of a handful in the United States.
The following day, the Pope celebrated mass at Giants Stadium in a tremendous downpour. Despite the rain, the crowd stayed to hear the words of Pope John Paul II and to participate in the Eucharist. This show of faith not only impressed the media, but more importantly, it impressed the Pope himself. At a public audience in Rome several weeks later he declared, " The strong faith, united with hope, of the church of New Jersey was meaningfully expressed...at Giants Stadium where not even the driving rain so badly needed in that state could dampen the enthusiasm and devotion of those present."
The Cathedral, another church of the Archdiocese officially became the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart through a decree from the congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican. Archbishop McCarrick received a fax of the decree on December 24, 1995 making the honor a great Christmas present for the entire Archdiocese. This honor also highlights the strength of the church of Newark which grew from a small faith community to one of great diversity and size.
On November 21, 2000, Archbishop McCarrick was named to head the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. He was installed as the fourth Archbishop of Washington on January 4, 2001. The College of Consultors elected Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski, Vicar General of the Curia, to serve as Administrator Pro-Tem of the Archdiocese while a new Archbishop is chosen.