Update on death of Chesterfield dad
Bill Cosby sentenced

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick removed from public ministry after sex abuse allegation

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, speaks during a news conference with senators and national religious leaders to respond to attempts at vilifying refugees and to call on lawmakers to engage in policymaking and not 'fear-mongering' at the U.S. Capitol December 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. Following last week's mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calinfornia, leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called on Monday for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who led the Archdiocese of Washington and was a political force in the nation’s capital, said on Wednesday that he has been removed from public ministry by the Vatican because of a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse.

As a cardinal, McCarrick is one of the highest-ranking American leaders in the Catholic Church to be removed from office because of sex abuse charges.

“While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, 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,” McCarrick said in a statement.

McCarrick, who led the Archdiocese of Washington from 2001-2006, was known as a genial and effective advocate for the Catholic Church’s political priorities, particularly focusing on the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

But McCarrick, 87, said, “I will no longer exercise any public ministry.” The Catholic Church has used that form of punishment in the past to discipline clergy who are credibly suspected of sexual abuse. McCarrick said he accepted this penalty from the Holy See, meaning the Vatican.

In his statement, McCarrick said he was informed several months ago that the Archdiocese of New York, where he was a priest decades ago, was investigating an allegation of abuse from a teenager “from almost fifty years ago.”

“While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency, and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York,” McCarrick said. “I fully cooperated in the process,” he added.

“My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible and substantiated,” McCarrick said. “I realize this painful development will shock my many friends, family members, and people I have been honored to serve in my sixty-years as a priest.”