In a move described as unprecedented, Pope Francis has allowed U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick to step down as a cardinal following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy. The Vatican announced on Saturday that Francis ordered McCarrick to conduct a “life of prayer and penance” even before a church trial is held.
Breaking with past practice, Francis decided to act swiftly in the case of the emeritus archbishop of Washington, D.C., even before the accusations can be investigated by church officials. McCarrick was previously one of the highest, most well-known Catholic church officials in the United States and was heavily involved the in church’s response thereto allegations of priestly abuse.
The pope has ordered McCarrick’s “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.”