Sex abuser Theodore McCarrick defrocked

Former cardinal and convicted sex abuser Theodore McCarrick has been laicised by Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

McCarrick is a former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington and was a powerful figure in ecclesiastical, diplomatic and political circles in the US and around the world.

The 88-year old was publicly accused last year of sexually abusing at least two adolescent boys and of engaging for decades in coercive sexual behaviour toward priests and seminarians.

He is the highest-ranking churchman to be laicised. It means he can no longer celebrate Mass or other sacraments, wear clerical vestments or be addressed by any religious title.

His conviction and laicisation (defrocking) followed an administrative penal process conducted by the CDF. This process is a much-abbreviated penal mechanism used in cases in which the evidence is so clear that a full trial is unnecessary.

McCarrick was found guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power”.

Because Pope Francis personally approved the guilty verdict and the penalty of laicisation, it is formally impossible for the decision to be appealed.

According to a statement from the Vatican on 16 February, the decree finding McCarrick guilty was issued on January 11 and followed by an appeal, which was rejected by the CDF on February 13.

McCarrick was notified of the decision on February 15 and Pope Francis “has recognised the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (ie, admitting of no further recourse)”.

His punishment was announced five days before the opening of Francis’s extraordinary gathering of bishops from around the world to help the church grapple with the crisis of sex abuse by clergy and systematic cover-ups by church hierarchy.

The resultant scandals have shaken the faith of many Catholics and threatened Francis’ papacy.


News category: World.

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