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Abuse accusation against retired DC cardinal found “credible”

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Cardinal McCarrick restricted from priestly ministry; he maintains his innocence

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who turns 88 next month, will no longer exercise public priestly ministry, after an allegation of abuse of a teenager occurring 45 years ago was found “credible and substantiated” by a review board of the Archdiocese of New York.

The abuse is alleged to have happened when McCarrick was a priest of that archdiocese.

The restriction from public ministry is a sanction determined by Pope Francis, and communicated to the cardinal through the pope’s representative in the United States. McCarrick maintains his innocence but has accepted the Vatican decision “in obedience.”

McCarrick was ordained a priest of New York in 1958. He began serving in 1977 as one of the archdiocese’s auxiliary bishops, six years after the alleged abuse is supposed to have occured.

He went on to be named the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey (1981); archbishop of Newark, New Jersey (1986); and the archbishop of Washington, DC, (2000). He retired from that last post in 2006; he was elevated to cardinal in 2001.

According to a statement from the Archdiocese of New York, “This was the first such report of a violation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People ever made against him of which the archdiocese was aware.”

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark said, however, “In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults. This archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.”

The archdiocese of New York explained how the charge of has been handled:

Carefully following the process detailed by the Charter of the American bishops, this allegation was turned over to law enforcement officials, and was then thoroughly investigated by an independent forensic agency. Cardinal McCarrick was advised of the charge, and, while maintaining his innocence, fully cooperated in the investigation. The Holy See was alerted as well, and encouraged us to continue the process.

Again according to our public protocol, the results of the investigation were then given to the Archdiocesan Review Board, a seasoned group of professionals including jurists, law enforcement experts, parents, psychologists, a priest, and a religious sister.

The review board found the allegations credible and substantiated.

The bishops of the three dioceses where McCarrick served as prelate have asked for prayers, as well as renewed their commitment to support victims of abuse.

The president of the conference of US bishops, Houston’s Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, released a statement that notes the need for “continued vigilance” saying that the same duty to protect children falls to all clergy, “no matter the person’s high standing or long service.”

“This morning was a painful reminder of how only through continued vigilance can we keep that promise” of protecting children and young people, Cardinal DiNardo said in a statement, without mentioning Cardinal McCarrick by name. “My prayers are with all who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. May they find healing in Christ’s abundant love.”

The archdiocese of New York has just published an FAQ about the cardinal’s ministry and the accusation. The last question might be of particular note:

7. Isn’t this all just another black eye for the Catholic Church?

This news will certainly be shocking and painful, especially to Catholics, and will cause many to wonder if this tragedy of abuse will ever end. At the same time, however, it should be noted that, fortunately, the policies and procedures put into place by the Church are working. Although this case involves activity from nearly a half-century ago, the allegation was taken seriously, the matter was thoroughly and carefully investigated, and the decision is being publicly announced. No one, not even a cardinal, is above the law or our strict policies. The Church can never be complacent, and must always do all that it can to prevent abuse, and respond with compassion, sensitivity, and respect to victim-survivors who come forward. In this, it can be a model for others who are looking to respond to this sin and crime that affects all segments of society.

Read the whole thing here.

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Abuse
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