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Pope Francis accepts Cardinal resignation

Pope Francis accepts Cardinal resignation

Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement: "I thank the Holy Father for his leadership in taking this important step".

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who once led the Archdiocese of Washington and was a force in American politics, after a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse of a teenage altar boy forced the Vatican to remove him from public ministry. The revelations posed a test to Francis's recently declared resolve to battle what he called a "culture of cover-up" of such abuse in the Catholic's church's hierarchy.

He acknowledged what the Archdiocese of NY called "a credible and substantiated allegation" involving a minor and Cardinal McCarrick when the prelate was a priest in that archdiocese, and its investigation of a second incident there also involving a minor and then-Father McCarrick.

Since that announcement, media reports have detailed additional allegations, charging that McCarrick sexually abused, assaulted, or coerced seminarians and young priests during his time as a bishop.

Then in 2005 and again in 2007, two New Jersey dioceses settled privately with two men alleging abuse or harassment at McCarrick's hands. McCarrick has not responded publicly to these claims. Pope Francis announced today that he has accepted the resignation.

Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal's resignation as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh after reports that three priests and a former priest had accused the cardinal of "inappropriate conduct" with them going back to the 1980s.

Both the Newark and Metuchen archdiocese confirmed they reached settlements with adults who alleged abuse by McCarrick. Edward Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery in 2009.

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McCarrick, 88, is one of the most prominent American cardinals active on the global stage and the charges make him one of the most high-profile Catholic leaders to face abuse claims. The trial was the first time in modern history that the Vatican's own tribunal had handed down a sentence in a clerical abuse case.

Bishops have been implicated in the sexual abuse scandals that have stained the Catholic church's reputation worldwide for decades, but often for their roles in covering up for paedophile priests by shuffling them from parish to parish and keeping the faithful in the dark about the allegations about clergy whose pastoral duties often bring them into contact with minors.

Last month US Church officials said the allegations were credible.

The pope appears to "understand the gravity of the situation and further harm to the Catholic church's status", he told the AP.

The Vatican on Saturday released a statement confirming the pope's acceptance of the resignation. The cardinal, who retired a decade ago, said he had "absolutely no recollection", of this. "(Still) it's a remarkable development".

McCarrick, 88, was informed several months ago that the Archdiocese of NY, where he was ordained in 1958, was investigating an allegation of abuse from a teenager "from nearly fifty years ago", McCarrick said in June, when the Pope ordered him to cease his priestly ministry in public. He later renounced rights and privileges of being a cardinal but kept his red hat and title until his death earlier this year.