Catholic Cardinal Steps Down Amid Sex Abuse Scandal

In a nearly unprecedented move, one of the most prominent Catholic Cardinals in the United States resigned from his position today amid sexual abuse allegations.

“Pope Francis on Saturday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s most prominent figures who has been at the centre of a widening sexual abuse scandal,” according to Reuters.

McCarrick was the former Archbishop of Washington D.C., and is believed to be the first Cardinal to resign since French theologian Louis Billot in 1927, who had a disagreement with Pope Pius XI.

He stands accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago, accusations which the Catholic Church say are “credible and substantiated.” Another alleged victim has come forward claiming the McCarrick abused him at age 11, and several men have alleged that the Cardinal forced them to sleep with him at his New Jersey home while in seminary school.

“A Vatican statement said the pope ordered McCarrick’s suspension from the exercise of any public ministry,” according to the report. “This means he remains a priest but will be allowed to say Mass only in private. Francis also ordered McCarrick to go into seclusion “for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”

McCarrick said he has “absolutely no recollection” of the alleged abuse from 50 years ago, and has not publicly commented on any other allegations.

“The New York Times reported last week that two dioceses in New Jersey, where McCarrick served as bishop before being promoted to Washington in 2000, had reached financial settlements in 2005 and 2007 with men who said they were abused by McCarrick as adults decades ago,” says the report.

“Last Tuesday, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said he was ‘deeply troubled’ by the McCarrick case, saying it and others pointed to ‘a major gap’ in Church policy on sexual conduct and sexual abuse by bishops or other top officials.”