WASHINGTON, D.C., DC — Theodore McCarrick, the once powerful Catholic church leader and Archbishop of Washington, DC was defrocked Saturday.
The Vatican made the announcement after finding McCarrick guilty of sex abuse, including with minors. The Vatican said McCarrick was also found guilty of solicitation during confession.
The Holy See said in a statement Saturday, “The Congresso imposed on [McCarrick] the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.”
Someone who is dismissed from the clerical state, or defrocked, cannot celebrate the sacraments, wear clerical attire or be addressed by his former title.
McCarrick, who served as Archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006, resigned from the College of Cardinals in July 2018 after allegations were announced by the Catholic Church.
The Archdiocese of Washington said Saturday, “The imposition on former Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of the penalty of his dismissal from the clerical state, thus prohibiting him any type of priestly ministry, underscores the gravity of his actions.
Our hope and prayer is that this decision serves to help the healing process for survivors of abuse, as well as those who have experienced disappointment or disillusionment because of what former Archbishop McCarrick has done. We also pray that the Church may be guided to move forward in her mission.”
The former cardinal is now the highest profile figure in the Catholic Church to ever be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.
One of McCarrick’s accusers, James Grein, released a statement through his attorney on Saturday saying, “There are no winners here.”
Grein went on, “Today I am happy that the Pope believed me. I am hopeful now I can pass through my anger for the last time. I hope that Cardinal McCarrick will no longer be able to use the power of Jesus’ Church to manipulate families and sexually abuse children.”
Grein, who lives in Virginia, says McCarrick started abusing him when he was 11-years-old. He testified against the former cardinal before a Vatican appointed investigator in December.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also released a statement saying, “We are grateful that this case has been somewhat resolved.
Still, we cannot help but notice the timing of this resolution: the Friday before the pope’s much ballyhooed global abuse summit. We believe that this decision was “fast-tracked” by the hierarchy because it’s so damning.”
SNAP Board of Directors member, Becky Ianni, spoke with WUSA9 on Saturday.
“We want to know why are they doing it right now,” said Ianni, who also pointed out Pope Francis’ upcoming summit.
McCarrick’s defrocking comes days before the pope leads a gathering of bishops at the Vatican over the sex abuse crisis that has tainted the church.
“I think part of it is a PR move. ‘Look what we’re doing, we’re taking action.’ And I think it’s done because now there is a crisis in the Catholic Church,” said Ianni, who says she is also a survivor of abuse by a priest in Alexandria, Virginia.
Ianni said she does not believe the investigation should end now that McCarrick is laicized.
“I think that will help the victims heal,” she explained. “But my question is too, who knew and when did they know. And the only way we’re going to find out is if they open up those records.”
In summer 2018, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced it would not pursue charges against 88-year-old McCarrick because the alleged crime was beyond the state’s statute of limitations.
A spokesperson with the Archdiocese of New York said the allegations were turned over to police and investigated by an independent forensic agency. A review board found the accusations against McCarrick to be “substantiated and credible.”
McCarrick said he had “no recollection” of the abuse and believes in his innocence.
He went on to write in a statement, “I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people."
Ianni said she still would like to see more happen to McCarrick.
“I think the best thing that could happen is if McCarrick was prosecuted criminally and put in jail,” said Ianni.
McCarrick now lives in a friary in Kansas.