McCarrick Officially Laicized

by Stephen Wynne  •  •  February 16, 2019   

Ex-cardinal stripped of ecclesiastical offices, reduced to lay state

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VATICAN CITY ( - Eight months after his predatory past was exposed to the world, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick — once one of the most powerful prelates in the Church — has been laicized.

The Holy See Press Office announced Saturday that, after decades of sexually assaulting altar boys and seminarians, McCarrick is being stripped of his ecclesiastical offices and dismissed from the clerical state.

According to the official Vatican communiqué, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

On 11 January 2019, the Congress of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the final decree of the criminal trial against Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, DC ... the accused was found guilty of the following delicts while a cleric: solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession and violations of the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue with minors and adults, with the aggravating circumstance of the abuse of power. The Congress imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.

On 13 February 2019, the Ordinary Session (Feria IV) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith considered the recourse and presented against this decision. Having examined the arguments in the recourse, the Ordinary Session confirmed the decree of the Congress. This decision was sent to Theodore McCarrick on 15 February 2019. The Holy Father has recognized the definitive nature of this decision, made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (ie, admitting of no further recourse).

After the Vatican announcement, McCarrick survivor James Grein, whose testimony helped seal the ex-cardinal's fate, issued a statement responding to McCarrick's dismissal from the clerical state.

"For years I have suffered, as many others have, at the hands of Theodore McCarrick," said Grein. "It is with profound sadness that I have had to participate in the canonical trial of my abuser."

Our Lady's work is in process.

"Nothing can give me back my childhood and I have not taken any pleasure in testifying or discussing what happened to me. There are no winners here," he reflected. "With that said, today I am happy that the Pope believed me. I am hopeful now I can pass through my anger for the last time. I hope that Cardinal McCarrick will no longer be able to use the power of Jesus' Church to manipulate families and sexually abuse children."

Grein went on to say that McCarrick's laicization marks a beginning, not an end — the beginning of the purification of the Catholic Church: "This great historical and holy situation is giving rise to all Catholics and victims of abuse across the world. It is time for us to cleanse the Church. Our Lady's work is in process."

James Grein

"McCarrick has haunted the Church for the last 50 years," he continued. "A Church which has been cut off from Jesus. Run by men who have chosen to worship money, power, greed. The exact opposite of God's Holy Teaching. This has to change. It's Jesus' Church."

Echoing calls from across the United States, Grein urged survivors and their advocates to expand statutes of limitations, which have prevented many predator priests from being brought to justice.

"We must continue to pressure state [attorneys general] and senators to open the statutes of limitations. It's these [that have] kept all of the abuse hidden from us. Hundreds of priests, bishops and cardinals are hiding behind manmade law," Grein said. "It is time that we open the books and expose the pure evil of these men."

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