Vatican City, Oct 13: Pope Francis on Saturday accepted the resignation as a cardinal of Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington DC and one of the most prominent figures in the US Catholic church, following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy.
The Vatican said in a statement that McCarrick, 88, sent his resignation letter to the pope on Friday night, reported The Guardian. Recent weeks have brought a spate of allegations that in the course of his distinguished career, McCarrick sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians.
A man, who was 11 at the time of the first alleged instance of abuse, says a sexually abusive relationship continued for two more decades. McCarrick has denied the initial allegation. Several men have come forward to allege McCarrick forced them to sleep with him at a beach house in New Jersey when they were adult seminarians studying for the priesthood.
Besides agreeing to McCarrick’s stepping down as a cardinal, Francis ordered him to conduct “a life of prayer and penance” until accusations against him are examined in a church trial. McCarrick rose steadily through the US church, from auxiliary bishop in New York City to bishop in Metuchen, New Jersey, to archbishop of Newark, New Jersey and then to Archbishop of Washington DC, where the papal ambassador to the US is based.
In its statement on McCarrick, the Vatican said “Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”