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Catholic Church defrocks cardinal over sex abuse charges

Pope Francis has defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing confession and of sexual crimes against minors and adults, the Holy See said Saturday. McCarrick, 88, is the highest-ranking Catholic churchman to be laicized, as the process is called. The punishment for the once-powerful prelate, who had served as the archbishop of Washington, spent years in New Jersey dioceses and had been an influential fundraiser for the church, was announced five days before Francis leads an extraordinary gathering of bishops from around the world to help the church grapple with the crisis of sex abuse by clergy and the systematic cover-ups by church hierarchy. The decades-long scandals have shaken the faith of many Catholics and threaten Francis' papacy. France 24 correspondent Seema Gupta reports from Rome.

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