16 February 2019
Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington..- Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered this week the laicization of
Once a powerful figure in ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and political circles in the U.S. and around the world, McCarrick, 88, is now removed from the clerical state. He was publicly accused last year of sexually abusing at least two adolescent boys, and of engaging for decades in coercive sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians.
The CDF conducted an administrative penal process which found McCarrick guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power,” according to a Feb. 16 Vatican communique.
An administrative penal process is a much-abbreviated penal mechanism used in cases in which the evidence is so clear that a full trial is unnecessary.
Because Pope Francis personally approved the guilty verdict and the penalty of laicization, it is formally impossible for the decision to be appealed.
According to a Feb. 16 statement from the Vatican, the CDF issued the decree Jan. 11 finding McCarrick guilty. This was followed by an appeal, which the CDF rejected Feb. 13.
McCarrick was notified of the decision Feb. 15 and Pope Francis “has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (i.e., admitting of no further recourse.)”
CNA contacted McCarrick’s canonical advocate this week, who declined to comment on the case.
The allegations of sexual abuse against McCarrick became public in June 2018 when the Archdiocese of New York reported that it had received a “credible” allegation that McCarrick sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, while serving as a New York priest. McCarrick stepped down that same month from all public ministry at the direction of the Holy See.
In July, Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals, ordering McCarrick to a life of prayer and penance pending the completion of the canonical process concerning the allegations. Since the end of September, McCarrick has been residing at the St. Fidelis Capuchin Friary in Victoria, Kansas.
Key among McCarrick’s accusers is James Grein, who gave evidence before specially deputized archdiocesan officials in New York on Dec. 27.
As part of the CDF’s investigation, Grein testified that McCarrick, a family friend, sexually abused him over a period of years, beginning when Grein was 11 years old. He also alleged that McCarrick carried out some of the abuse during the sacrament of confession – itself a separate canonical crime that can lead to the penalty of laicization.
The CDF has also reportedly received evidence from an additional alleged victim of McCarrick – 13 at the time the alleged abuse began – and from as many as 8 seminarian-victims in the New Jersey dioceses of Newark and Metuchen, where McCarrick previously served as bishop.
As emeritus Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and also as Bishop of Metuchen and Archbishop of Newark, McCarrick occupied a place of prominence in the US Church.
He was a leading participant in the development of the 2002 Dallas Charter and USCCB Essential Norms, which established procedures for handling allegations of sexual abuse concerning priests.
Though laicized, McCarrick does not cease to be a bishop, sacramentally speaking, since once conferred the sacrament of ordination and episcopal consecration cannot be undone.
The penalty of reduction from the clerical state – often called laicization – prevents McCarrick from referring to himself or functioning as a priest, in public or private. Since ordination imparts a sacramental character, it cannot be undone by an act of the Church; but following laicization he is stripped of all the rights and privileges of a cleric including, in theory, the right to receive financial support from the Church.
Former US cardinal defrocked for sex crimes against minors and adults
In the first ever such penalty, the Pope has defrocked former US cardinal and Archbishop Theodore McCarrick over soliciting sex in the confessional.
News Corp Australia Network
February 17, 20192:15am
Former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been expelled from the Roman Catholic priesthood after he was found guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults.
Pope Francis decided the ruling, which followed an appeal by the man who was a powerbroker as Archbishop of Washington DC from 2001 to 2006, was now final.
A Vatican statement on Saturday said his crimes were made more serious by “the aggravating factor of the abuse of power”.
McCarrick, who in July became the first Roman Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal, has now become the highest-profile church figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.
The decision comes as the Church is still grappling with a decades-long sexual abuse crisis that has exposed how predator priests were moved from parish to parish instead of being defrocked or turned over to civilian authorities in countries across the globe.
The ruling was made by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith three days ago.
The allegations against McCarrick, whose fall from grace stunned the US Church, date back to decades ago when he was still rising to the top of the hierarchy there.
One of his victims expressed relief that Pope Francis believed his accusations of years-long sex abuse.
In a statement released by his lawyer on Saturday, James Grein said he participated in the church trial of McCarrick “with profound sadness”, The Associated Press reported.
Mr Grein, the son of a friend of McCarrick, said that while he can’t regain his childhood, “today I am happy that the Pope believed me”.
He accused McCarrick of sexually abusing him for about two decades from age 11, including during confession.
Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the ruling showed that “different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable”.
McCarrick was also found guilty of the separate crime of solicitation, which refers to when a priest uses the pretext of the sacrament of confession to commit an immoral act with a penitent.
One of the men who has claimed that McCarrick abused him when he was a boy said McCarrick, then a priest, touched his genitalia during confession.
Separately, several priests and ex-priests have come forward alleging McCarrick used his authority to coerce them to sleep with him when they were adult seminarians studying for the priesthood.
McCarrick, who has been living in seclusion in a remote friary in Kansas, has responded publicly to only one of the allegations, saying he has “absolutely no recollection” of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago.
McCarrick has not commented publicly on the allegations of misconduct with adults, which was an open secret in the US Church.
Francis ordered a “thorough study” last year of all documents in Holy See offices concerning McCarrick.
The four US dioceses where he served — New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington DC — have launched independent investigations.
The Pope wanted the case completed before heads of national Catholic churches meet at the Vatican from February 21-24 to discuss the crisis, three sources said.
US ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick defrocked over abuse claims
15 February 2019
A former Roman Catholic cardinal has been defrocked after historical sexual abuse allegations.
Theodore McCarrick is the most senior Catholic figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.
US Church officials said allegations he had sexually assaulted a teenager five decades ago were credible.
Mr McCarrick, 88, had previously resigned but said he had “no recollection” of the alleged abuse.
“No bishop, no matter how influential, is above the law of the Church,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.
“For all those McCarrick abused, I pray this judgment will be one small step, among many, toward healing.”
The alleged abuses may have taken place too long ago for criminal charges to be filed because of the statute of limitations.
Mr McCarrick was the archbishop of Washington DC from 2001 to 2006. Since his resignation last year from the College of Cardinals, he has been living in seclusion in a monastery in Kansas.
He was the first person to resign as a cardinal since 1927.
He is among hundreds of members of the clergy accused of sexually abusing children over several decades and his dismissal comes days before the Vatican hosts a summit on preventing child abuse.
The Vatican said Pope Francis had ruled Mr McCarrick’s expulsion from the clergy as definitive, and would not allow any further appeals against the decision.
Martin Bashir, BBC religion editor
This is a significant moment in the Roman Catholic Church’s effort to address the tide of sex abuse scandals – not least because of the high status this former Cardinal Archbishop once held.
Not only was he the first cleric in more than 100 years to resign from the College of Cardinals, but his removal from the priesthood also confirms Pope Francis’ assertion that anyone found guilty of abuse will be treated with zero tolerance, regardless of their status within the church.
The Vatican has said that the investigative process was completed in January and Mr McCarrick was informed of the decision to dismiss him from the priesthood last night. It comes days before Pope Francis will host all the presidents of bishops conferences around the world at a summit in Rome.
The summit is designed to reflect upon the global challenge of abuse and to develop protocols and procedures that could be applied across continents.
What are the allegations?
Mr McCarrick is alleged to have assaulted the teenager while working as a priest in New York in the early 1970s. The claims were made public by the current Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
He said an independent forensic agency had investigated the allegations. A review board, including legal experts, psychologists, parents and a priest, then found the allegations “credible and substantiated”.
At the time, Mr McCarrick said in a statement that had “no recollection of this reported abuse” and believed in his innocence.
Several more men have since said the cleric forced them to sleep with him at a beach house in New Jersey, while they studied for the priesthood as adult seminarians. One man has come forward saying he was assaulted while still a minor.
It has also since emerged that financial settlements were reached in at least two cases of alleged sexual misconduct with adults involving Mr McCarrick.
They involved “allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago”, while he was working as a bishop in New Jersey, bishops in the state told US media.
How does this fit into the wider sexual abuse scandal?
The dismissal of Mr McCarrick is the latest incident in a series of long-running cases of sexual abuse of children and young men by priests at the Church.
In Germany, more than 3,600 children were assaulted by priests between 1946 and 2014, a leaked report revealed in October 2018.
In the US, a Pennsylvania grand jury named more than 300 clergy in a report which found more than 1,000 children had been abused.
In June 2018, a former Vatican diplomat was sentenced to five years in prison in the Vatican for child pornography offences.
In Chile, 34 Roman Catholic bishops offered to resign in May 2018 in the wake of a child sex scandal and cover-up.
In recent weeks, Pope Francis has also admitted that priests have sexually abused nuns and in one case kept them as sex slaves.