Vatican Expels Former US Cardinal McCarrick

US cardinal Theodore Edgar Mc Carrick in 2013 at the Vatican

This latest move by Francis is unprecedented by the Vatican, and it is meant to send a strong message, according to Archbishop Charles Scicluna in an interview with Reuters.

He was also found guilty of "solicitation" during confession.

The conference aims to be an opportunity to improve awareness of the global phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors within the Church, despite many in Africa, Asia and the Middle East being in denial of what they call "a Western problem".

"I am absolutely convinced that our credibility in this area is at stake", said Father Federico Lombardi, who Pope Francis has chosen to moderate the meeting. "One thing he distinctly remembers is that McCarrick told him not to tell anyone about it", Noaker said.

An appeals panel set up by the pope had reduced the punishments of a number of Catholic priests found guilty of abusing minors.

Tobin, who was named a cardinal by Francis, expressed gratitude to the pontiff "for his leadership throughout this hard investigation and decision".

Last week the 70-year-old's New Jersey diocese announced he had been removed from ministry after being "credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor". Two of those resulted in settlement.

"For us bishops, it strengthens our resolve to hold ourselves accountable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ", the cardinal said.

Cardinal Cupich said it is clear the majority of clerical abuse cases involve priests abusing boys, but high-level, independent studies, including the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report in the United States and the report of Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, "indicated that homosexuality itself is not a cause".

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The group noted that Pope Francis' summit on sexual abuse starts on Thursday.

McCarrick, who in July became the first Roman Catholic prelate in almost 100 years to lose the title of cardinal, has now become the highest profile church figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, responds to a question during a conference on "Healing the Breach of Trust: The Role of the Laity in Responding to the Crisis" Feb. 6, 2019, at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

The church has always been criticized for protecting predatory priests from the law - but the bishops' statement appeared to signal a shift.

"Raping a child or a vulnerable person and abusing them has been wrong since the 1st century, the Middle Ages, and now", he said.

Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict have dispatched Scicluna over the years to investigate the most sensitive and notorious sex abuse cases, including that of the Legionaries of Christ religious order in Mexico in 2006 and widespread abuse in Chile last year. Francis subsequently promised a fresh investigation into McCarrick, including using Vatican archives. "Canonically, it would not be the first time, but the first for a cardinal who ecclesiologically is one of the members of the presbyterium of the bishop of Rome".

The announcement marks a spectacular fall from grace for the once influential cardinal and comes ahead of a Vatican conference from February 21-24 bringing together bishops from around the world to discuss protecting children within the Church.

He said: "I ask prayers for this appointment, which I wanted as an act of strong pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge of our time".

Robert Ciolek, who was abused by Mr. McCarrick in the 1980s, when Mr. Ciolek was a young seminarian and later a priest, said on Saturday that he viewed the defrocking as "as a very positive step". Following his defrocking, McCarrick will no longer be provided for by the church, so his way of sustenance hangs in a balance now.

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