Prominent US cardinal with ties to NJ resigns amid sex abuse allegations

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NEWARK -

Pope Francis effectively stripped a former cardinal's title following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy.

The former cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, also has ties to New Jersey, serving at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark from 1986 to 2001.

On Friday, McCarrick became the first Catholic cardinal ever to resign his post amid allegations of sexual abuse against adults and children.

The Vatican is in the midst of an investigation that will lead to a canonical trial.

For right now, Pope Francis has ordered McCarrick into seclusion and reflection pending a church trial on the abuse charges.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin gave a statement about the situation Saturday.

"This latest news is a necessary step for the Church to hold itself accountable for sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by its ministers, no matter their rank," says Cardinal Tobin. "I ask my brothers and sisters to pray for all who may have been harmed by the former Cardinal, and to pray for him as well."

Tobin has asked parishioners to pray for McCarrick and his potential victims.

Both the Newark and Metuchen archdiocese confirmed they reached settlements with adults who alleged abuse by McCarrick.

Churchgoers coming out of Sunday services at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark had mixed reactions to the allegations.

"Only God has that answer," said Jose Chaparro of Newark. "I can't judge anybody."

Others say they find the news of McCarrick's abuse "hard to believe."

Robert Hoatson, a former priest and abuse survivor, claims that rumors surrounding McCarrick went back decades. He believes that prosecution for McCarrick should be the next step.

"The reason why we need the secular authorities to come forward is because the church cannot monitor itself--it cannot police itself," Hoatson said.

Hoatson feuded with archdiocese leadership, resigned as a priest and now counsels abuse victims.

McCarrick, on the other hand, was eventually promoted to be archbishop of Washington D.C. and left Newark. He was suspended there in June after allegations surfaced that he abused a child while he was a priest in upstate New York 47 years ago.

The statute of limitations has long expired in many of these alleged cases, so there is a chance McCarrick could be prosecuted.

The church investigation is ongoing. The last time a member of the College of Cardinals resigned was 1927.

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