VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The defrocking of former USA cardinal Theodore McCarrick is a "very important signal" to the Catholic Church hierarchy that no one is above the law, the Vatican's top sexual crimes investigator said on Saturday.
McCarrick, who in his prestigious red cardinal robes hobnobbed with presidents, other VIP politicians and pontiffs, is now barred from celebrating Mass or other sacraments including confession and from wearing clerical garb. The scandals have eroded Catholics' trust in the Vatican and in church leaders like bishops.
Addressing faithful in the square, Francis asked for prayers for the gathering of the heads of Catholic bishops' conferences worldwide.
Some of Francis' critics contend that as a product of the Catholic Church's hierarchical culture, he, too, has been slow to recognize the hierarchy's role in perpetuating abuse by pedophile priests. That commandment forbids adultery. The Congresso imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. The tribunal originally rendered their decision on January 11, but McCarrick pursued an appeal. A NY native, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of NY in 1958.
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. "Today, he is Mr. McCarrick", said the Rev. Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
The organization, which brings together activists and survivors from more than 17 countries, said any cleric found to have abused a child or covered up abuse - regardless of how long ago the crime took place - should be defrocked.
Grein says "it's time for us to cleanse the church".
"Hundreds of priests, bishops and cardinals are hiding behind man-made law", he said.
Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin said Saturday it's "profoundly disheartening and disturbing" to know that McCarrick acted "contrary to the Christian way of life as well as his vocation as a priest".
McCarrick, who became a powerbroker as Archbishop of Washington, D.C., from 2001 to 2006, is living in seclusion in a remote friary in Kansas.
The ruling makes McCarrick the highest profile Catholic priest to be expelled from the priesthood over abuse allegations.
In mid-September, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis was calling the presidents of all the world's bishops' conferences to a February 21-24, 2019 meeting at the Vatican to address the sexual abuse crisis.
Despite the apparent common knowledge in church circles of his sexual behavior, McCarrick rose to the heights of church power. He even acted as the spokesman for US bishops when they enacted a "zero tolerance" policy against sexually abusive priests in 2002.
An advocate for church accountability over sex abuse is demanding Pope Francis say what he knew about Theodore McCarrick, the disgraced former USA cardinal. Vigano claimed that McCarrick's behavior was reported to then-Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis's predecessor, and that Benedict had issued sanctions against McCarrick.
McCarrick was apparently told Friday that he would be booted from the Vatican's ranks. The Vatican has acknowledged the outcome may produce evidence that mistakes were made and said Francis would "follow the path of truth, wherever it may lead".
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