Prominent US Catholic Cardinal McCarrick resigns over abuse claims

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a prominent US cardinal accused of sexually assaulting a teenager nearly 50 years ago.

Theodore McCarrick, 88, a former Archbishop of Washington, has also been suspended from public duties pending a canonical trial, the Vatican said.

Last month US church officials said the allegations were credible. Mr McCarrick has said he has “absolutely no recollection” of the alleged abuse.

Further allegations have since emerged as BBC reported.

Mr McCarrick was one of the most prominent US cardinals and is one of the most high-profile Catholic leaders to face abuse claims.

“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,” a Vatican statement said.

Mr McCarrick is alleged to have assaulted the teenager while working as a priest in New York in the early 1970s. The claims were made public in June by the current Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

He said an independent forensic agency had investigated the allegations. A review board, including legal experts, psychologists, parents and a priest, then found the allegations “credible and substantiated”.

Several more men have since said Mr McCarrick forced them to have sex with him at a beach house in New Jersey, while they studied for the priesthood as adult seminarians. One man has come forward saying he was assaulted while still a minor.

Mr McCarrick has not commented on the more recent allegations.

It has also since emerged that settlements were reached in at least two cases of alleged sexual misconduct with adults involving Mr McCarrick.

They involved “allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago”, while Mr McCarrick was working as a bishop in New Jersey, bishops in the state told US media.

Mr McCarrick became a priest in 1958 and later worked in New York before becoming Archbishop of Washington between 2001 and 2006.

Despite having officially retired, he has continued to attend events abroad, including those focusing on human rights issues.