Pope Francis has been slammed by sex abuse survivors after intervening in the case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and ensuring the United States’ most notorious Catholic pedophile will not serve any time in prison.
Announcing that he has accepted Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis insisted the pedophile cardinal must not be tried under U.S. law, but will instead be sentenced to “a life of prayer and penance” under canon law, according to the Vatican.
Pope Francis has been reducing penalties for pedophile cardinals and priests, unveiling a “prayers not prison” punishment scheme for high-level child molestors within the Catholic church.
The liberal pope claims to be applying his vision of a “merciful church” to pedophile officials by reducing punishments to lighter sentences, in many cases “a lifetime of prayer,” as in the case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
However sex abuse victims are appalled, claiming that Pope Francis is normalizing pedophilia within the Catholic church again, undoing the hard work done by his predecessor Pope Benedict.
Marie Collins, an abuse survivor and founding member of Pope Francis’ sex-abuse advisory commission, expressed dismay that the penalties were being weakened, arguing that pedophiles should be sentenced to jail, not ordered to “pray” in the comfort of their homes.
She said: “All who abuse have made a conscious decision to do so. Even those who are paedophiles, experts will tell you, are still responsible for their actions. They can resist their inclinations.”
According to CNN, the Pope also ordered McCarrick’s suspension from public ministry and instructed him to “remain in a house yet to be indicated to him” until the trial.
Last month US Catholic Church officials admitted the allegations against Cardinal McCarrick were credible.
Mr McCarrick has said he has “absolutely no recollection” of the alleged abuse, however further allegations have since emerged, indicating a pattern of abuse by the disgraced Cardinal.
According to the BBC, Mr McCarrick was one of the most prominent US cardinals and is one of the most high-profile Catholic leaders to face abuse claims.
What are the allegations?
Mr McCarrick is alleged to have assaulted the teenager while working as a priest in New York in the early 1970s. The claims were made public in June by the current Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
He said an independent forensic agency had investigated the allegations. A review board, including legal experts, psychologists, parents and a priest, then found the allegations “credible and substantiated”.
Several more men have since said Mr McCarrick forced them to have sex with him at a beach house in New Jersey, while they studied for the priesthood as adult seminarians. One man has come forward saying he was assaulted while still a minor.
Mr McCarrick has not commented on the more recent allegations.
It has also since emerged that settlements were reached in at least two cases of alleged sexual misconduct with adults involving Mr McCarrick.
They involved “allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago”, while Mr McCarrick was working as a bishop in New Jersey, bishops in the state told US media.
Who is Theodore McCarrick?
He became a priest in 1958 and later worked in New York before becoming Archbishop of Washington between 2001 and 2006.
Despite having officially retired, he has continued to attend events abroad, including those focusing on human rights issues.
He has been heavily involved in the response to allegations of abuse by Catholic priests in the US, local media reports say.
In Washington he was also known for his focus on the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and had a reputation as someone who could work with powerful figures on all sides, US media report.