Vatican defrocks former cardinal McCarrick over sex abuse

ROME (AP) — The Vatican says Pope Francis has defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing Confession.

The punishment announced on Saturday for the once-powerful prelate and Archbishop of Washington comes a few days before Pope Francis is to lead an extraordinary gathering of bishops from around the world over the sex abuse crisis which has eroded the faith of many Catholics and threatened his papacy.

Defrocking means McCarrick, 88, who now lives in a friary in Kansas after he lost his title of cardinal last year, won't be allowed to celebrate Mass or other sacraments.

The Vatican's press office said that on Jan. 11, the Holy See's doctrinal watchdog office, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, had found McCarrick guilty of "solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power."

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Pope Francis canonizes new saints in ceremony
Pope Francis leaves at the end of a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has praised two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church as prophets who shunned wealth and looked out for the poor as he canonized the modernizing Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Francis declared the two men saints at a Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims, a handful of presidents and some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A view of St. Peter's Square during a canonization ceremony, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has praised two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church as prophets who shunned wealth and looked out for the poor as he canonized the modernizing Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Francis declared the two men saints at a Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims, a handful of presidents and some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A view of St. Peter's Square during a canonization ceremony presided over by Pope Francis, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has lauded new saints Pope Paul VI and slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as prophets of a church that looks out for the poor as he presided over a canonization ceremony. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A view of St. Peter's Square during a canonization ceremony presided over by Pope Francis, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has lauded new saints Pope Paul VI and slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as prophets of a church that looks out for the poor as he presided over a canonization ceremony. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A woman applauds the announcement by Pope Francis that El Salvador's martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero is a Saint, outside the cathedral where Romero's remains are entombed and where people gathered to watch tv live images from the Vatican in San Salvador, El Salvador, early Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. For many in San Salvador, it was the culmination of a fraught and politicized campaign to have the church formally honor a man who publicly denounced the repression by El Salvador's military dictatorship at the start of the country's 1980-1992 civil war. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
Faithful follow a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A tapestry portraying Maria Katharina Kasper hangs from a balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonized two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Nuns wave flags during a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis leaves at the end of a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has praised two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church as prophets who shunned wealth and looked out for the poor as he canonized the modernizing Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Francis declared the two men saints at a Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims, a handful of presidents and some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis leaves at the end of a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has praised two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church as prophets who shunned wealth and looked out for the poor as he canonized the modernizing Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Francis declared the two men saints at a Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims, a handful of presidents and some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Chile President Sebastian Pinera, foreground center, attends a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has lauded new saints Pope Paul VI and slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as prophets of a church that looks out for the poor as he presided over a canonization ceremony. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis leaves at the end of a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has praised two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church as prophets who shunned wealth and looked out for the poor as he canonized the modernizing Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Francis declared the two men saints at a Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims, a handful of presidents and some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A view of St. Peter's Square during a canonization ceremony, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has praised two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church as prophets who shunned wealth and looked out for the poor as he canonized the modernizing Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Francis declared the two men saints at a Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims, a handful of presidents and some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A view of St. Peter's Square during a canonization ceremony, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has praised two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church as prophets who shunned wealth and looked out for the poor as he canonized the modernizing Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Francis declared the two men saints at a Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims, a handful of presidents and some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Tapestries portraying new proclaimed saints hang from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica during a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has lauded new saints Pope Paul VI and slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as prophets of a church that looks out for the poor as he presided over a canonization ceremony. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis presides over a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis has lauded new saints Pope Paul VI and slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as prophets of a church that looks out for the poor as he presided over a canonization ceremony. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Emeritus Queen Sofia of Spain attends a ceremony for the canonization of two towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church: Pope Paul VI, who oversaw church reforms of the 1960s, and Archbishop Oscar Romero, a human rights icon who was murdered for his defense of El Salvador's poor, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis celebrates Sunday's saint-making Mass wearing the blood-stained rope belt that Romero wore when he was gunned down in 1980. He will also be using Paul VI's staff, chalice and vestment. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
El Salvador President Salvador Sanchez Cheren attends a ceremony for the canonization of two towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church: Pope Paul VI, who oversaw church reforms of the 1960s, and Archbishop Oscar Romero, a human rights icon who was murdered for his defense of El Salvador's poor, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis celebrates Sunday's saint-making Mass wearing the blood-stained rope belt that Romero wore when he was gunned down in 1980. He will also be using Paul VI's staff, chalice and vestment. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A priest holds a picture of martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero prior to a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A man holds flag with a picture of martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero prior to a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, center, incenses the relics during a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A man wears an El Salvador scarf prior to a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis presides over a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis presides over a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis incenses the relics during a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Pope Francis canonizes two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Figures of archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero are displayed for sale at a Catholic shop, in San Salvador, El Salvador, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Pope Francis will canonize two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
A pedestrian looks at a banner with the image of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, in San Salvador, El Salvador, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Pope Francis will canonize two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today.(AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
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The officials "imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state."

The Sixth Commandment regards sexual behavior. In addition, McCarrick, when he was ordained a priest in 1958, took a vow of celibacy, in accordance with church rules on priests.

McCarrick appealed the penalty, but the doctrinal officials earlier this week rejected his recourse, and he was notified on Friday, the Vatican announcement said.

The pope "has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accordance with (church) law, rendering it as 'res iudicata,'" the Vatican said, using the Latin phrase for admitting no further recourse.

That meant McCarrick, a one-time "prince of the church," as cardinals are known, becomes the highest-ranking churchman to be laicized, or dismissed from the clerical state. It marks a remarkable downfall for the globe-trotting powerbroker and influential church fundraiser who mingled with presidents and popes but preferred to be called "Uncle Ted" by the young men he courted.

The scandal swirling around McCarrick was even more damning because it apparently was an open secret that he slept with adult seminarians.

 

 

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