According to The New York Times, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Theodore McCarrick from the College of Cardinals on Saturday over accusations of sexual abuse, sentencing him to a “life of prayer and penance.”
McCarrick, who is the first cardinal to resign over accusations of sexual abuse, was removed from the ministry last month after the church verified allegations that he sexually abused an altar boy 47 years ago.
While McCarrick is just being disciplined now in 2018, the church had reportedly “known for decades about accusations that he had preyed on men who wanted to become priests, sexually harassing and touching them.”
Mike, whose abuse allegations directly resulted in McCarrick’s resignation, commented, “I am kind of appalled that it has taken this long for him to get caught. But I am glad I am the first one that could open the door to other people,” adding that the new of McCarrick’s resignation felt like a “gut punch.”
Another man, who has identified himself as James, claims that the cardinal abused him for almost two decades, starting when he was 11 years old in 1969.
Additionally, a New York Times investigation revealed that, between 2005 and 2007, tens of thousands of dollars in settlements had been paid to various men, who had accused McCarrick of sexual abuse in the 1980s when he was a bishop in New Jersey.
In light of the numerous allegations against McCarrick, Cardinal Sean O’Malley released a statement on Wednesday, stating, “These cases and others require more than apologies. They raise up the fact that when charges are brought regarding a bishop or a cardinal, a major gap still exists in the church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse.”
While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops addressed the specific allegations against McCarrick, they have yet to call for broader reform. The conference’s president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, only commented that the Pope’s acceptance of McCarrick’s resignation “reflects the priority the Holy Father places on the need for protection and care for all our people and the way failures in this area affect the life of the Church in the United States.”
For now, the president of BishopAccountability.org, Terrence McKiernan, is calling on the Pope to open an investigation into how McCarrick was able to have such a lengthy and prestigious career amid 50 years of sexual abuse allegations. “The officials responsible must be identified and disciplined,” McKiernan said, “and the investigative file must be made public.”