Pope Francis dismissed former Cardinal and Archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick from the clerical state Feb. 16 after a Vatican tribunal found McCarrick guilty of abusing minors and seminarians over several decades. It’s the first time a cardinal has been defrocked or laicized from the Catholic Church over sexual misconduct.
“Pope Francis and our church took appropriate action and sent a strong message by dismissing former Cardinal McCarrick from the clerical state,” Bishop Thomas John Paprocki said. “Sexual abuse of any kind will never be tolerated no matter how high ranking in the church hierarchy someone may be. No one is above God’s eternal law as reflected in the laws of civil society and of the church. It’s my hope this action shows the world the church is making progress on this issue, holding abusers accountable and helping victims and survivors. The church must continue an aggressive approach in purging this evil from its ranks.
“This decision, however, leaves unanswered critically important questions such as how somebody like McCarrick could rise through the ranks of the church hierarchy when he apparently ‘had a reputation’ of sexual misconduct. It does not address who else in church leadership knew about McCarrick’s behavior and did nothing. Those individuals must also be brought to some kind of justice. In this regard, we continue to await the results of the ‘thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives’ of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick as announced by Pope Francis last Oct. 6 when he promised, ‘We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.’
“Let us continue to pray for all those who have been abused and for their healing and pray that church leaders remain steadfast in their resolve to reform our church on this issue.”