Theodore McCarrick's Downfall: A Timeline

The disgraced former cardinal was laicized Jan. 11, he was notified his appeal was rejected Feb. 15, and Vatican announced news Feb. 16.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick meets with Pope Francis in July 2018.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick meets with Pope Francis in July 2018. (photo: Vatican News)

WASHINGTON — Theodore McCarrick has been laicized, nearly 10 months after sex abuse allegations against him were first made public. Following is a timeline of the major public events.

June 20 — The Archdiocese of New York announces that an allegation of sexual abuse by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been found to be “credible and substantiated.” 

July 19 — The New York Times reports a new allegation by a man who says he was serially abused by McCarrick beginning in 1969, when he was 11 years old.

July 28 — Pope Francis accepts the resignation of McCarrick from the College of Cardinals and suspends him from the exercise of any public ministry. He directs McCarrick to observe a life of prayer and penance, pending the canonical process against him.

Aug. 16 — The U.S. bishops’ conference calls for a Vatican-led investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up surrounding McCarrick.

Aug. 17 — Numerous priests from Newark, New Jersey, claim McCarrick had a widely-known reputation for sexual advances toward seminarians.

Aug. 25 — Archbishop Carlo Viganò, a former apostolic nuncio to the U.S., releases a “testament” claiming that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

Aug. 26 — Asked during an in-flight interview about Archbishop Viganò’s letter, Pope Francis says he “will not say a single word” on the subject and instructs journalists to use their “journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.”

Aug. 30 — The Archdiocese of Washington confirms that seminarians were permitted to serve as assistants to McCarrick while the archbishop was being investigated for the alleged sexual abuse of a teenager.

Sept. 12 — Pope Francis calls for all the presidents of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the world to meet at the Vatican Feb. 21-24 to address the protection of minors.

Sept. 19 — The administrative committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announces new accountability measures, including a code of conduct for bishops and the creation of an independent reporting mechanism for complaints against bishops. The committee also calls for a full investigation into the allegations against McCarrick and the Church’s response to these allegations.

Sept. 28 — The Diocese of Salina, Kansas, and Archdiocese of Washington announce that McCarrick has begun his life of prayer and penance at St. Fidelis Capuchin Friary in Victoria, Kansas.

Oct. 6 — The Vatican announces that Pope Francis has ordered a review of all Holy See files pertaining to allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of McCarrick.

Nov. 12 — U.S. bishops gather for annual fall meeting in Baltimore; the Vatican instructs them to delay until after the February meeting a vote on two proposals intended to be the foundation of the U.S. Church’s response to the abuse crisis.

Nov. 14 — The U.S. bishops fail to pass a resolution that would have “encouraged” the Holy See to release all documents on the allegations of misconduct against McCarrick.

Dec. 27 — James Grein testifies in a canonical deposition by the Archdiocese of New York, saying he was serially sexually abused by McCarrick, beginning when he was 11 years old.

Jan. 11. — McCarrick is laicized. Also known as losing the clerical state, he no longer has the right to exercise sacred ministry in the Church, except in the extreme situation of encountering someone who is in immediate danger of death. In addition, he no longer has the canonical right to be financially supported by the Church.

Jan. 14 — Archbishop Viganò writes an open letter urging McCarrick to publicly repent of the sexual abuse and misconduct of which he has been accused.

Feb. 13 — Vatican "considered the recourse" from McCarrick.

Feb. 15 — Vatican confirms original decision and informs McCarrick. 

Feb. 16 — Vatican announces decision publicly with the Holy Father's recognition that the decision is definitive and McCarrick has no further recourse.