Cardinal Theodore McCarrick dismissed by Vatican in sex abuse scandal

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By Linda Givetash  with NBC News World News
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McCarrick, 88, is a well-known religious figure around the world.   -   Copyright  Chip Somodevilla

Disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was defrocked by the Vatican on Saturday after an investigation into sex abuse allegations.

The church is penalising McCarrick, the former head of the Archdiocese of Washington, with "dismissal from the clerical state," it said in a statement early Saturday.

He had already become one of the highest-ranking Americans to be removed from public ministry because of sex abuse allegations earlier last summer. Pope Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals in July and ordered him to observe a life of prayer and penance in seclusion.

In October Francis authorized a "thorough study" of Vatican archives into how McCarrick advanced through church ranks despite allegations that he slept with seminarians and young priests.