Saturday, July 28, 2018

Archbishop McCarrick, Ex-Cardinal

Shortly after noon in Rome, the Holy See released the following 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.
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Until now the first member of the College to face substantiated reports of child sex-abuse in nearly a quarter-century, with the 88 year-old prelate's renunciation of the red hat amid two known allegations of abuse of minors and several claims of misconduct with and harassment of adults – two of them the focus of freshly revealed legal settlements in the mid-2000s – the move marks the first full-on flight of a cardinal since 1927, when the Frenchman Louis Billot, a Jesuit theologian, left the papal Senate over his membership of the Action Française, a reactionary movement condemned by the Holy Office (the now-CDF).

As previously reported, following his 2013 admission of serial harassment and misconduct with seminarians and priests, the late Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien was made to resign "the rights and privileges" of the cardinalate, but not the title itself. Likewise, after multiple allegations of abusing minors were aired in the 1990s against the Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Gröer, the Benedictine monk quickly retired as archbishop of Vienna and died in seclusion a decade later with the scarlet intact.

With the loss of the title he's held since 2001 – when he was created a cardinal alongside the now-Pope and 42 others – as McCarrick remains archbishop-emeritus of Washington, all references to him going forward now revert to "Archbishop McCarrick." At the same time, deprivation of the dignity of archbishop remains a potential penalty should he be found guilty at the coming tribunal – the first process of its kind to be held for a onetime "prince of the church."

The highest-ranking US prelate by far ever to be removed over abuse claims, while McCarrick's de facto suspension from ministry already took place on Francis' orders upon the archdiocese of New York's June judgment that his abuse of a 16 year-old boy on two occasions in the early 1970s was "credible and substantiated," today's statement notably refers to "accusations" in plural.

Beyond the finding which spurred the archbishop's initial removal, the specifics of any further canonical charges are unknown.

Archbishop McCarrick's precise whereabouts have remained tightly held since the June allegation was made public, when he was moved out of the Washington nursing home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Weeks before the New York report was revealed – knowing that it was to come, and already under pressure to keep a low profile at home – the fallen cleric chose to make one final trip in active ministry: an early June pilgrimage to the shrine of Poland's Black Madonna at Czestochowa, where he marked the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

SVILUPPO (9am ET): In a rare Saturday release, a significant yet terse statement on McCarrick's resignation from the College was issued by the president of the US bishops, Houston's Cardinal Daniel DiNardo:
"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."