Survivor of priest sexual abuse: Defrocking of McCarrick bittersweet

February 16, 2019 - 1:35 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – Theodore McCarrick became the first American cardinal defrocked for his crimes of sexual abuse in an announcement by the Vatican Saturday morning.

Pope Francis expelled McCarrick – once one of the most powerful Catholic leaders in the U.S. – from the priesthood after he was found guilty of sexually abusing minors and seminarians.

Evidence in the case revealed church officials knew about the allegations for at least several months before McCarrick was elevated to cardinal in 2001.

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For McCarrick, 88, the punishment means he can no longer celebrate Mass or any church sacraments. He can’t wear clerical vestments or ever be addressed by a religious title.

McCarrick has been living in a religious residence in Kansas since the investigation began. It’s not clear if he will stay there, and his lawyers aren’t commenting.

Advocates for victims, like Shaun Dougherty, of Queens, are recognize the significance of the news.

But Dougherty tells 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria that the defrocking of McCarrick is bittersweet: on one hand, he’s skeptical and thinks it’s a convenient public relations move by the church before the Vatican’s summit on sex abuse by priests next week.

“The sweet part is – and now it begins. That’s the first one. There’s a long list coming,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty is a survivor of priest sexual abuse himself, as well as a spokesman for a network of survivors in Queens. He plans to be at next week’s summit in Rome.

He says New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan should also be removed, because he says the cardinal’s remarks about church sexual abuse have been cruel and callous.

“’This is toxic for the church,’ or, ‘it’s been the summer of hell for the church,’” Dougherty said, referring to statements by Dolan. “Summer of hell for the church? What do you think it’s been like for the victims?”

Dougherty believes the church won’t really heal until it makes a huge public apology.

“Every one of those bishops will prostrate themselves in St. Peter’s Square. Apologize to the world for the harm they’ve caused. Make a solemn oath that within this amount of time, you will have every document that they have,” Dougherty said.