The Vatican said Saturday that Pope Francis has defrocked disgraced former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
In July of last year, Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals following allegations he had sexually abused minor and adult seminarians over a period of decades.
The Vatican said in a statement that in January 2019 it had found McCarrick guilty of ". . . solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power." (The Sixth Commandment says 'Thou shall not commit adultery' and is one of the Ten Commandments the Bible says were given by God. The Commandments are fundamental to Judaism and Christianity.)
McCarrick appealed the decision expelling him from the priesthood, but it was upheld and McCarrick was notified of the decision Friday. .
The Vatican statement said its decision "is definitive and admits of no further recourse or appeal."
This latest move by Francis is unprecedented by the Vatican, and it is intended to send a strong message, according to Archbishop Charles Scicluna in an interview with Reuters.
"It is a very important signal that, if we're talking about accountability for bishops, we are actually doing it," he said. "We are walking the talk. There is also a very important signal for us bishops that we are not above the law. ... We should be judged according to the highest standards."
Scicluna said McCarrick's sexual misconduct with adult seminarians was an open secret in the U.S. church, and Scicluna also noted the decision could lead to "soul searching" by those who may have known about it but did not come forward. Scicluna is an archbishop in Malta and holds a prominent position in the Vatican department that judged McCarrick.
The church repeatedly has faced withering criticism for its mishandling of the sexual abuse crisis, which has documented how predator priests were simply moved from parish to parish in nations around the globe instead of being defrocked or turned over to civilian authorities.
McCarrick had been a highly respected and longtime ambassador of the Catholic Church was was a confidant of popes and U.S. presidents.
McCarrick, 88, was ordained a priest in 1958. His appointments included: auxiliary bishop of New York, bishop of Metuchen, archbishop of Newark, and archbishop of Washington.
In 2001, McCarrick became a cardinal.