Bombshell, from NCR:
In a shocking announcement, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who served as the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., before retiring in 2006, has announced that he is stepping down from active ministry after allegations of sexual abuse were found “credible and substantiated.”
“The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry,” according to a statement from the New York Archdiocese where the complaint was lodged.
He is likely the first cardinal to step down from active ministry for sexually abusing a minor.
“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,” McCarrick said in a statement.
The incident of sexual abuse of a teenager occurred 47 years ago, when McCarrick was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, the statement said. No other details about the allegations were given.
Three other allegations of sexual misconduct with adults in the Archdiocese of Newark and Diocese of Metuchen were revealed in a statement by Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark. Two of those allegations resulted in settlements.
McCarrick released a statement this morning:
Some months ago, I was advised by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, that an allegation of sexual abuse of a teenager from almost fifty-years ago had been made against me. At that time I was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
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. I fully cooperated in the process.
My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible and substantiated.
In obedience I accept the decision of The Holy See, that I no longer exercise any public ministry.
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.
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.
And there is this, from Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark:
The Archdiocese of Newark has never received an accusation that Cardinal McCarrick abused a minor. In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults. This Archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.
Cardinal McCarrick served this Archdiocese for almost fifteen years. No doubt many of you developed strong relationships with him and appreciate the impact of his service. Those feelings are likely hard to reconcile with the news of a credible and substantiated claim of abuse of a minor. While Cardinal McCarrick maintains his innocence and the canonical process continues, we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth.
The abuse crisis in our Church has been devastating. We cannot undo the actions of the past, but we must continue to act with vigilance today. I renew my commitment to seek forgiveness and healing, while ensuring a safe environment for children in this Archdiocese. I will continue to report immediately to civil authorities any accusation of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy and will cooperate fully in the investigation and adjudication. I continue to urge anyone who was abused by clergy to come forward, as brave survivors before you have done. To the priests, religious and all other members of this community, I join you in continued prayer that God carry us together in his love with commitment to our faith and each other.
You can read other statements about this here.
UPDATE: Rod Dreher has been following Cardinal McCarrick’s story for many years, and has more of the ugly details and background in The American Conservative.
UPDATE II: The New York Times Thursday morning offers additional details. It includes information about the accuser and when this happened:
The man whose allegations led to the downfall of the cardinal is now a 62-year-old businessman who is married and lives in northern New Jersey, his lawyer, Patrick Noaker, said in an interview. The victim wished to remain anonymous, Mr. Noaker said.
The abuse, he said, started in 1971, when the young man had just turned 16 and was a student at Cathedral Prep Seminary in Manhattan and planning to become a priest. He was selected to serve at the Christmas Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a great honor, and as part of that, was called in to be measured for a special cassock. In the sacristy at the cathedral, Cardinal McCarrick, then a monsignor who was the secretary to Cardinal Terence Cooke, personally began to measure him.
The monsignor, “under the guise of measuring his inseam, unzipped his pants, and sexually assaulted him,” Mr. Noaker said. “The kid had just turned 16, and kind of pulled back, and McCarrick was a little surprised by that.”
“Let’s not tell anyone about this,” the monsignor told the student, according to Mr. Noaker.
Over the following year, Monsignor McCarrick occasionally saw the teenager and told him how good-looking he was. The young man was again selected in 1972 to be a Christmas Mass altar boy, and vowed to be more cautious this time, his lawyer said. Another man did the measuring, but Monsignor McCarrick was there and cornered him in a bathroom, Mr. Noaker said.
“He just came in, grabbed him, shoved his hand into his pants and tried to get his hand into his underwear, and the kid had to struggle and push him away,” the lawyer said.
…Cardinal McCarrick is the highest American prelate to be publicly accused of sexually abusing a minor since 1993, when an allegation was made against Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, then archbishop of Chicago, who denied it. The accuser later retracted his allegation, saying it stemmed from an “unreliable” memory recovered under hypnosis. Cardinals from other countries have previously faced public accusations, and one, Cardinal George Pell of Australia, is facing trial there.