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Pope Francis defrocks ex-Cardinal McCarrick over sexual abuse allegations
Pope Francis has dismissed ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood after an investigation found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over a decades-long period, the Vatican said Saturday.
The New York Times reported that McCarrick's expulsion likely marks the first time a cardinal or bishop in the U.S. has been defrocked by the Roman Catholic Church and represents the first instance of a cardinal being dismissed over sexual abuse.
In a statement from the church's doctrinal watchdog, the Vatican said the church had found McCarrick, 88, guilty of several charges, including "sins" with minors and adults, "with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power."
The Vatican said in its statement that an expedited investigation found McCarrick guilty of the charges on Jan. 11, but "considered the recourse" for the ex-Cardinal on Feb. 13.
Pope Francis affirmed the ruling, leaving McCarrick no further recourse, The Washington Post reported.
McCarrick is unlikely to face criminal prosecution, the Post noted, because the allegations leveled against him publicly relate to crimes that would fall outside of the statutes of limitations in the U.S. jurisdictions where they are said to have taken place.
McCarrick has previously denied the allegations.
The punishment comes just days before Pope Francis is set to host a summit on abuse at a gathering of bishops from around the world.
The Vatican removed the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., from public ministry in June after allegations surfaced he sexually abused a teenager nearly 50 years ago while he was a priest in New York City.
McCarrick also served in New Jersey and as D.C.'s archbishop from 2001 to 2006. He was once a global fixture in the Catholic Church, representing the church globally.