Rome: 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.