After many sex abuse cases and cover up scandals which happened in the Catholic church in 2018, the church officials now have to deal with another one. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, one of the most respected U.S. cardinals, is facing allegations that he repeatedly sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians. Once again questions are raised about who in the Catholic church hierarchy knew and what Pope Francis is going to do about it.
The pope has already spent the better part of 2018 dealing with a spiraling child sex abuse, adult gay sex and cover-up scandal in Chile, and he openly denounced a "culture of cover-up" in the church, so the question is whether he is going to take the investigation all the way to the top. If the accusations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick bear out then he could be defrocked — sanctioned to a lifetime of penance and prayers or sanctioned with some other punishment.
Pope Francis recently accepted the resignation of the Honduran deputy to Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who is one of Pope’s top advisers. Maradiaga is under pressure to reveal what he knew about Bishop Juan Jose Pineda's sexual misconduct with seminarians, and the question arose whether or not he intentionally covered this case up. The McCarrick case arouses the same questions, his colleagues also kept silent about what they might have known.
The U.S. church announced on June 20 that Pope Francis ordered to remove McCarrick from public ministry because of allegations that he fondled a teenager more than 40 years ago in New York City. And the dioceses of Newark and Metuchen, New Jersey, revealed that they received three complaints of misconduct by McCarrick against adults, settling two of them. McCarrick denied the initial allegation of abuse against a minor, but he accepted the pope's decision to remove him from public ministry.
It is uncertain what would be the punishment for McCarrick if he is found guilty. One of the problems the Pope has to solve is discrimination among clergy regarding their canonical sanctions. The hardest punishment a member of a clergy could face is dismissal from the clerical state, or defrocking. The Vatican rarely, if ever, imposes such a penalty on elderly members, but this sanction is something an ordinary priest could expect in similar situation. If McCarrick is found guilty of abusing a minor in a church trial, a lifetime of penance and prayer is the most likely canonical sanction for him.
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