NEWARK, NJ -- The Vatican announced on Saturday that Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, formerly the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, has been defrocked. It is believed to be the first time an American archbishop has been removed from the ministry following accusations of sexual abuse. 

According to the Catholic Standard, The Vatican announced that the 88-year-old McCarrick was found guilty of "solicitation in the sacrament of confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power" following an investigation by a panel of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith.

The Archdiocese of Washington, where McCarrick served after he left Newark, issued a statement:

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“The imposition on former Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of the penalty of his dismissal from the clerical state, thus prohibiting him any type of priestly ministry, underscores the gravity of his actions.

“Our hope and prayer is that this decision serves to help the healing process for survivors of abuse, as well as those who have experienced disappointment or disillusionment because of what former Archbishop McCarrick has done. We also pray that the Church may be guided to move forward in her mission.”

In recent years, McCarrick has been accused of sexual misconduct by adult seminarians, according to reports by media including the New York Times, and by a New Jersey minor, according to a report by

McCarrick served as Bishop of Metuchen from 1981 to 1986, Archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000, and was appointed Archbishop of Washington late in 2000 and elevated to Cardinal in 2001. He served in Washington until 2006, when he submitted his resignation at age 75. Since his resignation last year from the College of Cardinals, he has been living in seclusion in a monastery in Kansas, according to a report by the BBC.