Pope Francis Accepts Cardinal McCarrick’s Resignation From College of Cardinals

Vatican issues short statement announcing that the archbishop emeritus of Washington D.C. is to be suspended from public ministry and confined to a house where he is to live a “life of prayer and penance” until he faces a canonical trial.

(photo: Register Files)

The full text of the Vatican statement:

“Yesterday evening the Holy Father received the letter in which Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington (U.S.A.), presented his resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals. 

Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his 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.” 

By suspending his exercise of any public ministry and confining him to house for a life of prayer and penance, the Vatican is effectively placing the former cardinal on remand until his case is heard in an ecclesiastical court.

The last cardinal to be stripped of all cardinalatial rights and duties was Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, the late emeritus archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, following allegations of sexual misconduct that came to light between 2013 and 2015. He was allowed to retain the title of cardinal but not permitted to vote in a conclave. He faced no canonical trial and died in March this year. 

Before Cardinal O’Brien, the last cardinal to resign was the French Jesuit Louis Billot who renounced his membership of the College of Cardinals in 1927 in protest at the Church’s condemnation of the far-Right anti-Semitic Action Française movement. 

In recent weeks, McCarrick has been credibly accused of sexually abusing a teenager nearly 50 years ago, as well as additional allegations of sexual abuse and harassment over a number of decades. Other victims include three adults who were young priests or seminarians when McCarrick allegedly abused them. 

A Virginia man, now in his 60s, filed a police report last week alleging that from the age of 11 he was sexually abused and assaulted serially by McCarrick. The man said the abuse continued for almost two decades, according to a report in The New York Times.


UPDATE: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a brief statement:

"I thank the Holy Father for his leadership in taking this important step. It 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."

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, an archdiocese headed by Archbishop McCarrick from 1986 to 2000 before he was appointed Archbishop of Washington D.C., issued this statement in response to the news: 

“The somber announcement from the Vatican this morning will impact the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Newark with particular force. This latest news is a necessary step for the Church to hold itself accountable for sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by its ministers, no matter their rank. I ask my brothers and sisters to pray for all who may have been harmed by the former Cardinal, and to pray for him as well.”