Nuns say "Me Too": McCarrick Resigns Amid Claims of Global Abuse in the Catholic Church

The Vatican
Pictured is the reflection of St. Peter's Basilica in a puddle along Via della Conciliazione in Rome on July 17, 2018. Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal McCarrick on Friday as other allegations of abuse begin to surface. TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

Former Washington D.C. archbishop, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, stood down from his position amid decades-old abuse allegations, the Vatican announced on Saturday. He had been removed him from public ministry in June.

McCarrick, one of the most senior Catholic figures in the United States, sent his resignation to Pope Francis on Friday. The Pope accepted McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals the same day and ordered him to "a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial."

McCarrick, 88, was accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old altar boy in the 1970s and that the allegations were being investigated by the Archdiocese in New York, where he was ordained in 1958. The Vatican said the claims were "credible and substantiated." McCarrick has "absolutely no recollection" of the alleged abuse. Since the allegations there have been others to come forward with claims that McCarrick abused them as well, according to CNN.

"Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial," a Vatican spokesperson said.

Archbishop of Boston Sean O'Malley called on the Catholic Church to tighten its policy on sexual abuse allegations. "The church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops' violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults," he said. "The church needs to swiftly and decisively take action regarding these matters of critical importance."

McCarrick's case is not the only instance of abuse from prominent Catholic figures. In the wake of scandals over the sexual abuse of children and adults, nuns from across the globe are stepping forward to say, "Me too."

The abuse of nuns in Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia by priests and bishops has been reported to the Vatican since the 1990s, The Associated Press reported on Saturday. The news might indicate a new front in the global epidemic of abuse within the Church.

Encouraged by the MeToo movement, nuns are going public, denouncing years of inaction by church leaders.

"It opened a great wound inside of me," one nun told AP. "I pretended it didn't happen."

This week, half a dozen sisters in a small religious congregation in Chile went on national television to tell their stories of abuse by priests and how their religious leaders did nothing to stop it.

Karlijn Demasure, one of the church's leading experts on clergy sexual abuse and power and the former executive director of the church's Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, said that being taken seriously is the biggest obstacle for these religious sisters.

"They (the priests) can always say 'she wanted it,'" Demasure said to AP. "It is also difficult to get rid of the opinion that it is always the woman who seduces the man, and not vice versa."

"I am so sad that it took so long for this to come into the open, because there were reports long ago," Demasure said. "I hope that now actions will be taken to take care of the victims and put an end to this kind of abuse."