Published: Mon, February 18, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Pope Francis makes unprecedented decision in defrocking Theodore McCarrick

Pope Francis makes unprecedented decision in defrocking Theodore McCarrick

Pope Francis has defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing confession and of sexual crimes against minors and adults, the Holy See said Saturday.

A statement from the congregation said McCarrick had also been found guilty of sexual sins against both minors and adults along with an "abuse of power". Scicluna is an archbishop in Malta and holds a prominent position in the Vatican department that judged McCarrick.

Francis has summoned bishops to Rome to help him chart a way forward after decades of abuse by priests and prelates and systematic coverups by their superiors.

Along with claims he abused minors, the former priest and cardinal has also been the subject to allegations of sexual misconduct against seminarians including asking them to share his bed.

He is the highest profile figure to be dismissed from the Church in modern times, as it continues to struggle with a decades-long sexual abuse crisis. He is the first churchman who reached the rank of cardinal to be expelled from the priesthood due to sex abuse.

But it criticises the timing of the move, days before what it calls "the Pope's much ballyhooed global abuse summit" and accuses the Vatican of not practicing transparency.

McCarrick, who in his prestigious red cardinal robes hobnobbed with presidents, other VIP politicians and pontiffs, is now barred from celebrating Mass or other sacraments including confession and from wearing clerical garb.

The cardinal of Newark, New Jersey, is thanking Pope Francis for his leadership on the church investigation of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The four US dioceses where he served - New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington, D.C. - have launched independent investigations.

The defrocking strips McCarrick off his rights of priesthood and also marks the conclusion of a closed-door Vatican proceeding.

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Revelations in many countries about priests raping and committing other kinds of sexual abuse against children and a pattern of bishops hiding the crimes have shaken the faith of many Catholics.

Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz, who is coordinating the survivor meeting, told The Associated Press he hopes for a "constructive and open dialogue" and for summit committee members to convey the survivors' demand that bishops stop pleading ignorance about abuse.

"The fact. that there is still awareness-raising that has to be done [among bishops] is a measure of what a low priority this has truly been for the Vatican", said Anne Barrett-Doyle of the US -based abuse tracking group bishopaccountability.org.

McCarrick, who became a power-broker as archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006, has been living in seclusion in a remote friary in Kansas.

McCarrick had already received one of the most severe punishments short of defrocking.

In a statement then, the Archdiocese of Washington noted, "While saddened and shocked, this archdiocese awaits the final outcome of the canonical process and in the meantime asks for prayers for all involved".

Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said in an email to the AP that church officials have repeatedly shown "they are incapable of accurately determining the credibility of accusations, being transparent with the public, and understanding the pain that survivors go through".

"Today I am happy that the pope believed me", Grein said in a statement issued through his lawyer. He testified in December in NY before a Vatican-appointed investigator.

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