Pope defrocks former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick over sexual abuse

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was found guilty of sexually abusing both minors and adultsReuters

Former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been defrocked after a Church investigation found him guilty of sexually abusing both minors and adults. 

The Congresso of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is charged with investigating sexual abuse allegations, also found him guilty of soliciting sex while hearing confession. 

The CDF determined that he was guilty of historical sexual abuse 'with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power', adding that it had rejected an appeal by McCarrick against his dismissal. 

McCarrick, who was the Archbishop of Washington DC from 2001 to 2006, is the most senior figure to have been defrocked over sexual abuse in modern times.

He has been living in seclusion in a monastery in Kansas since resigning as cardinal last year after a former altar boy came forward to say he had been abused by McCarrick as a teenager in the 1970s. 

It is not certain whether criminal charges will be brought against him due to the statute of limitations. 

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement: 'No bishop, no matter how influential, is above the law of the Church.

'For all those McCarrick abused, I pray this judgment will be one small step, among many, toward healing.' 

The verdict comes after an indepth investigation carried out by the Archdiocese of New York on the orders of Pope Francis concluded that the allegations against McCarrick were 'credible and substantiated'. 

McCarrick has denied the allegations. 

The case raises difficult questions over the Church's failure to act sooner after the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey revealed last year that they had been aware of past allegations of sexual misconduct by the former cardinal, including two that had resulted in legal settlements.

The announcement on McCarrick comes days before the start of a major Vatican conference next week to address sexual abuse in the Church.