• Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Ex-US cardinal defrocked over sexual abuse charges

Feb 16, 2019 (3 months ago) |
Rome, Feb 16 : The Vatican on Saturday said it has defrocked former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the high-profile Catholic figure, of the priesthood rights after a Church trial found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over decades.
McCarrick, former leader of the Archdiocese of Washington once recognised as a powerful advocate of the Catholic Church's political priorities, was informed of the decision on Friday, the Vatican said in a statement cited by CNN.

It is the first time that a cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse.

The Vatican said a canonical process had found McCarrick guilty of several charges, including "sins" with minors and adults, "with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power", the Washington Post reported.

McCarrick, now 88, was accused of sexually abusing three minors and harassing adult seminarians and priests.

A New York Times investigation last summer detailed settlements paid to men who had complained of abuse when McCarrick was a bishop in New Jersey in the 1980s and revealed that some church leaders had long known of the accusations.

The Pope accepted McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals in July and suspended him from all priestly duties. He was first removed from ministry in June, after a church panel substantiated a claim that he had abused an altar boy almost 50 years ago. McCarrick has denied accusations.

The judgment was recognised by Pope Francis to be of a "definitive nature" and no longer subject to appeal, the report said.

The defrocking came just days before the Pope plans to gather bishops from around the world for an unprecedented summit on abuse.

The former cardinal may not face criminal prosecution because the allegations related to crimes were beyond statutes of limitations in the US jurisdictions where they were said to have occurred.

The move came as officials in the US ramped up investigations into sexual abuse by the members of clergy. As many as 16 state attorney generals have opened abuse investigations since the summer.

The investigations spread after the release of an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report last year that found that Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing more than 300 minors over decades and that church leaders had covered up the cases.

The outrage over McCarrick -- along with with additional scandals in the US, Europe, Latin America and Australia -- has damaged the reputation of the Pope, who had said in 2013 he wanted the church to act "decisively" on abuse.

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Ex-US cardinal defrocked over sexual abuse charges

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