Pope Francis on the evening of July 27, 2018, received the letter in which Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, presented his resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals, the Vatican reported on July 28, 2018.
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.
Cardinal McCarrick has been the subject of several accusations of abuse in the past weeks. The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, on June 20, 2018, instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry.
In response to national media reporting accusations of Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual improprieties with several adults and his criminal violations of the sexual abuse of minors, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, on July 24, 2018, condemned such “morally unacceptable” behavior, and stressed that it is “urgent” that the Church addresses such matters and protects victims.
In a statement, the Cardinal acknowledged these accusations are understandably a source of great disappointment and anger for many, saying he is “deeply troubled by these reports that have traumatized many Catholics and members of the wider community.”
Cardinal O’Malley stressed his “conviction” that the following three specific actions are required at this time:
- First, a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations
- Second, an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the Church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops
- Third, communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals
“Failure to take these actions will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church and can destroy the trust required for the Church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society.”