NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington DC, has been removed from public ministry after an accusation he abused a teen nearly 50 years ago while serving as a priest in New York archdiocese.

McCarrick, now at age 87, previously served as archbishop of Newark in New Jersey.

The cardinal maintains his innocence but has accepted the ruling that the accusation was credible.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was tasked to investigate the allegation with a board from the Archdiocese of New York. After finding the allegations credible, Dolan recommended McCarrick be kept from public ministry until a final decision by the Vatican is made.

“While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency, and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York,” McCarrick said in a statement. “I fully cooperated in the process.”

“My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible and substantiated,” McCarrick said. “In obedience I accept the decision of The Holy See, that I no longer exercise any public ministry.”

In New Jersey, two diocese where McCarrick served said they knew of three alleged sexual encounters involving the priest, but all were reported with adults.

“The Archdiocese of Newark has never received an accusation that Cardinal McCarrick abused a minor,” said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin in a statement from the Archdiocese of Newark.

“In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults,” said Tobin. “This Archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.”

“This very disturbing report has prompted me to direct that the records of our Diocese be re-examined, and I can report to you that there has never been any report or allegation that Cardinal McCarrick ever abused any minor during his time here in Metuchen,” said Erin Friedlander, communications director for the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey.

mccarrick 500437054 Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Steps Down Amid Abuse Accusation

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, speaks about refugees on Dec. 8, 2015, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults,” said Friedlander. “This Diocese and the Archdiocese of Newark received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.”

READ:
Statement of Archdiocese of Washington
Statement of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
Statement of Cardinal Timothy Dolan

McCarrick’s statement echoes an official release by the Washington DC archdiocese:

“Holy See, which has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal, delegated Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to investigate the allegation, engaging the review board of the Archdiocese of New York.

In the end the review board found the allegations credible and substantiated.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is to refrain from any public ministry or activity until a definite decision is made.

Cardinal McCarrick, while maintaining his innocence, has accepted the decision.

While saddened and shocked, this archdiocese awaits the final outcome of the canonical process and in the meantime asks for prayers for all involved.

At the same time, we renew our commitment to care for the victims who have suffered abuse, to prevent abuse before it occurs, and to identify and report child abuse once it has happened.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York also released a statement about the investigation into charges against McCarrick.

“This archdiocese, while saddened and shocked, asks prayers for all involved, and renews its apology to all victims abused by priests,” said Dolan.

McCarrick was born in New York City in 1930 and attended Fordham Preparatory School. After a year of study in Europe, he returned and enrolled in Fordham University prior to joining the priesthood.

He also served as the president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico during the late 1960s and returned to serve in New York City in 1969.

An outspoken champion of humanitarian causes, McCarrick traveled the world and served as a member of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom under President Bill Clinton.

As archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006, McCarrick oversaw an archdiocese of more than 500,000 Catholics and 115 parochial schools in the District and Maryland. Pope John Paul II later elevated McCarrick to the College of Cardinals.