The canonical investigation found McCarrick guilty of "sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power."
According to a statement from the Vatican, Pope Francis has defrocked disgraced U.S. ex-cardinal and former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, by way of a "dismissal from the clerical state.”
The unprecedented action marks the first time a cardinal or bishop in the United States has been defrocked or laicized from the Roman Catholic Church, and the first time any cardinal has been laicized for sexual abuse. Laicization strips a person of all priestly identity and also revokes church-sponsored resources like housing and financial benefits.
McCarrick is effectively expelled following an investigation into multiple sex abuse allegations, the Vatican said Saturday.
Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, remarked that to defrock McCarrick is “almost revolutionary,” adding that “bishops, and former cardinals, are no longer immune to punishment. The reverence that was shown in the past to bishops no longer applies.”
The canonical investigation deemed McCarrick guilty of "sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power." The Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith found McCarrick guilty on Jan. 11, the Vatican disclosed.
The former cardinal filed an appealed, but the motion was rejected on Feb. 13 and was promptly informed of the decision on Feb. 15, following which Pope Francis "recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law," making a further appeal impossible.
The ousted high-ranking clergyman was also found guilty of "solicitation.”
Francis had initially accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals, in July, and suspended him from all priestly duties.
McCarrick served the Washington diocese from 1981 to 1986.
Church officials revealed that the 88-year-old ex-cardinal had been accused of sexual misconduct by adults, three times, which resulted in two secret settlements.
In December, Pope Francis pleaded with sexual abusers, within the church, to surrender to authority while promising the church will "spare no efforts" to seek justice for sexual abuse victims.