The Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal has just claimed its highest-ranking American church official. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of 88-year-old Cardinal Theodore McCarrick while an investigation into multiple allegations of abuse continues, reports the AP. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, DC, had been removed from public ministry in June after the Archdiocese of New York ruled that an accusation that he sexually abused a teenager in the 1970s was credible, reports Slate. That seemed to open the floodgates for more allegations, as recounted in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox5DC.
“I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence," wrote McCarrick after the first allegation emerged. However, he said he accepted the decision to step down from public ministry. The accusations against him involve both minors and adult seminarians. One of the accusers says he was 11 when the abuse first took place, and it led to a sexually abusive relationship for more than 20 years. Francis acted quickly after receiving McCarrick's resignation letter on Friday evening, and he ordered McCarrick to lead a "life of prayer and penance" until a church trial can take place.
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