US cardinal resigns as sex abuse scandal spirals

US cardinal resigns as sex abuse scandal spirals
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as he faces an array of allegations of sexual abuse, and has ordered him to observe a “life of prayer and penance” until his canonical trial.

The former archbishop of Washington DC faces a litany of allegations, sparked after he was accused of sexually abusing an altar boy in 1971. The American Catholic Church said last month that, after an independent forensic investigation, it found the allegation was credible. The cardinal, who retired a decade ago, said he had “absolutely no recollection,” of this.

A second victim has since come forward to say that he suffered serial abuse by McCarrick, starting when he was 11. A number of men have also come forward to say that, when they were studying to become priests, McCarrick forced them to have sex with him at a New Jersey beach house.

The New York Times then revealed that two dioceses in New Jersey reached settlements with men who said they had been abused by him when he worked there. It also revealed the church knew for decades of allegations about him harassing seminarians.

The Vatican said McCarrick is 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 allegations serve as an additional blow to Catholics in the US as, after the Boston Globe exposed the Church’s sexual abuse epidemic in 2002, McCarrick played a prominent role in addressing the scandal, including calling for a national policy of “zero tolerance” for priests who abuse minors and claiming that US cardinals had agreed on a “one strike and you’re out” policy.

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