“In a move seen as unprecedented, Pope Francis has effectively stripped U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick of his cardinal’s title following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy. The Vatican announced Saturday that Francis ordered McCarrick to conduct a ‘life of prayer and penance’ before a church trial is held.
“Breaking with past practice, Francis decided to act swiftly on the resignation offered by the emeritus archbishop of Washington, D.C., even before the accusations are investigated by church officials. McCarrick was previously one of the highest, most visible Catholic Church officials in the United States and was heavily involved in the church’s yearslong response to allegations of priestly abuse there.
“Francis received McCarrick’s letter offering to resign from the College of Cardinals on Friday evening [June 27], after a spate of allegations that the 88-year-old prelate had for years sexually abused boys and had sexual misconduct with adult seminarians.
“The pope then ordered McCarrick’s ‘suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial,’ the Vatican said.
“The McCarrick case posed a test of the pontiff’s recently declared resolve to battle what he called a ‘culture of cover-up’ of similar abuses in the Catholic church’s hierarchy. McCarrick had already been removed from public ministry since June 20, pending a full investigation into allegations that he fondled a teenager more than 40 years ago in New York City. McCarrick has denied these allegations.
“Two dioceses in New Jersey, Newark and Metuchen, say they have settled two of three complaints of misconduct by McCarrick toward adults.
“The Vatican on Saturday didn’t say where McCarrick would be confined nor when a church trial might begin, and its brief statement did not even allude to the grave accusations against the prelate.
“Bishops have been implicated in the sexual abuse scandals that have stained the Catholic church’s reputation worldwide for decades, most often for their roles in covering up for pedophile priests by shuffling them from parish to parish and keeping the faithful in the dark about the allegations.
“Critics of the Vatican’s handling of abuse cases point out that despite recommendations from its advisory panel, the Holy See still hasn’t set up a tribunal or other system to deal with accused bishops or cardinals.”
“The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power—all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven.” The Great Controversy, page 606.