The leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for an investigation Thursday into the former archbishop of Washington who resigned in July after sexual abuse allegations.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, announced Thursday that a committee will investigate the allegations made against former archbishop Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick served as Washington’s archbishop from 2001 to 2006 and became a cardinal in 2001.
“We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report,” DiNardo said, announcing the committee’s establishment and investigation into McCarrick. (RELATED: Report: Pennsylvania Bishop Covered For Priest Who Allegedly Raped A Girl And Forced Her To Abort)
The committee will investigate McCarrick’s actions while he served as archbishop and establish channels by which victims and privy parties can file complaints against bishops. The committee will also advocate for a more effective and timely resolution of any future complaints, according to the announcement.
“Experts, laity, and clergy, as well as the Vatican” will assist in the committee’s investigation.
The College of Cardinals ordered McCarrick to a “life of prayer and penance” following accusations that he’d abused an 11-year-old boy while serving as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, according to The New York Times. McCarrick was removed from his post June 20.
“I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse,” 88-year-old McCarrick said in a June statement, claiming he is innocent. He did not resign until July 28.
McCarrick is the first cardinal to resign from the College of Cardinals over sexual abuse allegations. He will no longer travel on the pope’s behalf or act as an advisor. His highest honors have been removed.
“This is a moral catastrophe,” DiNardo said, The Washington Post reported Thursday. “Whatever the details may turn out to be regarding Archbishop McCarrick or the many abuses in Pennsylvania [or anywhere else], we already know that one root cause is the failure of episcopal leadership.”
DiNardo will present a fuller plan of action to all U.S. bishops in November, WaPo reported.
DiNardo’s statements come after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a grand jury report detailing decades of child sexual abuse Tuesday. The report, which spans 70 years of sexual misconduct and coverups by Catholic priests and officials, identified more than 1,000 child victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The report also identifies more than 300 accused “predator priests” across six dioceses in the state.
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