Saturday Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the College of Cardinals, and suspended him from the exercise of any public ministry.

Pope Francis accepted Cardinal McCarrick’s resignation from the cardinalate July 28 and applied a suspension a divinis, which according to canon 1333 in the Code of Canon Law, prohibits him from acts of the power of order and governance and from the exercise of the rights or functions attached to his office.

The pope also directed Cardinal McCarrick to observe “a life of prayer and penance in seclusion” until the end of the canonical process against him, stated a July 28 press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

According to a statement from the Vatican, McCarrick submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Francis Friday evening.

Only a pope can approve the resignation of a cardinal from his official status, and it is a measure which, historically, the Church has used very rarely – though this is the second time Pope Francis will have employed similar measures.

The first was in March 2015 when the pope accepted the resignation of now-deceased Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

Cardinal O’Brien lived in similar conditions to those now imposed on McCarrick, until his death in March of this year; though while he resigned the “rights and privileges” of a cardinal, he was allowed to keep the title.

O’Brien stepped down as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland following the February 2014 revelation of allegations that he had participated in inappropriate sexual behavior with other men in the 1980s.

On June 20, the Archdiocese of New York announced that it had concluded an investigation into an allegation that McCarrick had sexually abused a teenager, finding the claim to be “credible and substantiated.” 

Since that announcement, media reports have detailed additional allegations, charging that McCarrick sexually abused, assaulted, or coerced seminarians and young priests during his time as a bishop. The Diocese of Metuchen and Archdiocese of Newark disclosed that they had received reports that McCarrick engaged in sexual misconduct with adults, and reached legal and financial settlements in two cases.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.