The Vatican’s doctrinal office is preparing to reduce former cardinal Theodore McCarrick to the lay state for his serial homosexual abuse including that of minors, according to reports Friday.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is ready to hand down its most severe sentence for a cleric — that of laicization or “dismissal from the clerical state” — just prior to an upcoming meeting on clerical sex abuse convoked by Pope Francis in the Vatican, Vida Nueva reported.
Last July, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick from the college of cardinals after revelations of sexual impropriety and abuse spanning decades.
“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,” read a statement posted on the Vatican website.
The first accusation of sexual abuse became public on June 20 when the Archdiocese of New York released a statement announcing “credible and substantiated” allegations of abuse by McCarrick when he was a priest of the New York archdiocese.
The alleged victim was a former altar boy at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, who reported two incidents of abuse dating back to 1971 and 1972.
Two other accusations of abuse of minors later surfaced, as well as numerous charges of sexual harassment of seminarians and priests. All of the former cardinal’s alleged victims have been males.
In late December, the Associated Press (AP) released a series of graphic details from the testimony of alleged victim James Grein, who accused McCarrick of sexual abuse over a period of many years beginning when Grein was a boy of 11.
According to Grein’s lawyer, Patrick Noaker, Grein offered “chilling” details about repeated incidents of groping during the sacrament of confession, adding further gravity to the original charges of sexually abusing a minor.
The reduction to the lay state of a former member of the College of Cardinals is an unprecedented measure in the modern history of the Church.
Pope Francis has invited all the presidents of national bishops conferences from around the world to a Vatican summit on sexual abuse from February 21 to 24.
If he is expelled from the clerical state, McCarrick will no longer be able to administer the sacraments, dress as a priest, or receive any economic assignment from ecclesiastical institutions.
The 88-year-old prelate is currently living in a monastery in Kansas, where he was sent to lead a life of prayer and penance.
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