Archdiocese of Washington releases statement following resignation of Archbishop McCarrick

The Archdiocese of Washington released a statement on Sunday, after recent accusations made against former Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

McCarrick's resignation was accepted on Saturday by Pope Francis. This comes as new details emerged in the accusations against McCarrick. FOX 5 was the first news outlet in Washington to speak to a man called "James" who relayed the emotional details, stating McCarrick sexually abused him for two decades.

Cardinal McCarrick was removed from public ministry last month after allegations came out that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old altar boy in the early 1970s.

In a new statement, Cardinal Donald Wuerl says the victims coming forward are courageous.

The archdiocese is encouraging all those coming forward to share their experiences with the Archdiocese where they reside so church authorities can review.

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I think we were all shocked and saddened when we learned this past week when Cardinal Theodore McCarrick issued a public statement that a decades-old but credible and substantiated claim of abuse of a minor had been made against him in the Archdiocese of New York when he served there as a priest.

While the Archdiocese of New York investigated this claim, at the same time, I requested that a similar review be made of all Archdiocese of Washington's records. Based on that review, I can report that no claim - credible or otherwise - has been made against Cardinal McCarrick during his time here in Washington.

We must now wait for a final determination of this case to be made in Rome. In matters such as this our first priority as a Church is to continue to offer spiritual and pastoral support for the survivors of abuse and their families, and to provide assistance to help them heal and find peace. The abuse of children is a terrible tragedy, and the Church, even as we offer profound apologies, can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition.

At the same time, it is also important that we encourage survivors of abuse to come forward. The Archdiocese of Washington and its Office of Child and Youth Protection offer resources and confidential support to any who have suffered from abuse and who seek our help. We work diligently to ensure that our parishes, schools and youth programs remain safe and secure for the young people that are entrusted to our care.

I encourage all of the members of our Archdiocesan Church to join me in prayer for everyone involved in this matter, including the survivor who stepped forward, for all those who have been victimized by abuse, and for our Church, that everyone may experience the healing power of God's grace."

The Archdiocese also addressed the allegations made by "James" to media outlets since the initial reports came out in June, saying that those speaking out have "courageously" stepped forward and are reviewing the new claims.

"For more than 30 years, the Archdiocese of Washington has encouraged survivors of sexual abuse to come forward, and has sought to not only address claims of abuse swiftly, but to also offer assistance to survivors of abuse in the hope of bringing healing to those who have been harmed.

When the first claim against Archbishop McCarrick was filed in the Archdiocese of New York, the Archdiocese of Washington reviewed its own files and found no complaints of any kind made against Archbishop McCarrick. Further, the confidential settlements involving acts by Archbishop McCarrick in the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark were not known previously to Cardinal Wuerl or the Archdiocese of Washington.

In the aftermath of these claims in New York, Newark and Metuchen, we now have individuals courageously stepping forward - though anonymously due to understandable privacy concerns - and speaking to the media regarding additional claims of abuse by Archbishop McCarrick that heretofore were not known to the Archdiocese of Washington. These experiences shared by survivors are profoundly troubling and represent a breach of trust and wounding that no person should bear alone. Cardinal Wuerl again recently affirmed that those coming forward with new allegations show also a confidence in the Church to take seriously these charges and act quickly in responding.

We continue to pray for the survivors of such abuse and understand how difficult it is to share such painful memories. While the struggle to confront such experiences is difficult for survivors, the Archdiocese wishes to accompany them and help them through this process. The Archdiocese encourages all coming forward to share these experiences with any diocese in which they reside so that these grave issues can be reviewed promptly by Church authorities, and that we can offer assistance to begin the process for healing and peace."

Pope Francis said Saturday that McCarrick should conduct a life of prayer and penance, confirming he should not exercise any public ministry.