Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a U.S. cardinal accused of sexually abusing altar boys and ordered him to a “life of prayer and penance.” Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., officially stepped down from the College of Cardinals on Friday evening, the Vatican said Saturday. The pontiff issued a statement demanding that McCarrick be suspended from public ministry and remain in seclusion “until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.” McCarrick, the first cardinal ever to step down from the College of Cardinals over sexual abuse allegations, was first removed from public ministry late last month following accusations that he sexually abused a teenage altar boy in New York several decades ago. Several other accusers then came forward, and a New York Times investigation revealed that some members of the church hierarchy had long been aware of the allegations against McCarrick. On Saturday, the former altar boy who first spoke out about the alleged abuse said news of McCarrick’s resignation had him like a “gut punch,” according to The New York Times. “I am kind of appalled that it has taken this long for him to get caught,” he was quoted as saying.
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