Retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick led the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., from 2001 to 2006. Today he revealed that he has been instructed not to publicly exercise his priestly ministry or activity until a final decision is made related to charges of sex abuse that have been brought against him. The instruction was given to him by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin at the direction of Pope Francis.
CNN reports that McCarrick was informed months ago that someone had come forward to the Archdiocese of New York with charges of sex abuse involving a teenager “almost fifty years ago.” The cardinal was ordained in that diocese in 1958. The decision to remove him from priestly ministry or activity was made after a board of parents, psychologists, priests, religious sisters, law enforcement experts, and jurists reviewed the allegations and found them “credible and substantiated.” He maintains his innocence but has cooperated with investigators and made this statement regarding the situation.
“While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people.”
Cardinal McCarrick had a reputation as an advocate for the Catholic Church while serving in Washington. He interacted with presidents and other people of power and was known as someone who got on well with people from one end of the political spectrum to the other. As cardinal, he also was part of the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.
The final say that McCarrick now awaits will come from the Holy See. The Archdiocese of New York stated that they may do anything from ordering him to a life of prayer and penance to removing him from the clerical state completely.
In addition to the allegations of sex abuse against a teenager, two archdioceses in New Jersey where the cardinal once served report that three allegations of sexual behavior with adults have also been made. This behavior is also claimed to have happened decades ago. Two of the cases were settled according to Cardinal Joe Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark, who also said,
“While Cardinal McCarrick maintains his innocence and the canonical process continues, we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth.”
Cardinal McCarrick is 87 years old and currently lives in a retirement home in Washington.