Reactions from Catholics in Washington, D.C., are pouring in following the news that Pope Francis had defrocked former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick on Saturday after Vatican officials found him guilty of sex crimes.
McCarrick, a former Archbishop of Washington, D.C., was an influential American Catholic figure who frequently advised former presidents, politicians and popes.
He first resigned his title of cardinal in July after allegations of abuse emerged.
The decision by Pope Francis on Saturday now means McCarrick is the highest-ranking clergy member and first cardinal to be dismissed from the clerical state because of alleged sex abuse.
The Archdiocese of Washington responded to the news, saying the decision "underscores the gravity of his actions."
"Our hope and prayer is that this decision serves to help the healing process for survivors of abuse, as well as those who have experienced disappointment or disillusionment because of what former Archbishop McCarrick has done," the archdiocese's statement said.
Some Catholics in D.C. said they were relieved the Vatican was taking stronger action against sex abuse and their cover-ups.
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"I think it's long in coming," Ellen Toups said. "I think the Holy Father has sent a very direct and final message that sexual abuse and its cover-up will not be tolerated, ever."
Toups and other Catholics rallied outside the Papal Nunciature in Northwest D.C. to ask for clearer communication from Catholic officials.
"I think it's the right decision," Suzanne Pearson said. "I feel sorry for him, but I think it's the right decision. I think a lot of people have been upset."
Revelations about priests who have sexually abused juveniles and cover-ups by their superiors have come to light over the past two decades.
McCarrick was removed from public ministry in June after he was found to have abused a teen decades ago, the Archdiocese of New York said.
In July, News4 spoke to a man from Loudoun County, Virginia, who said McCarrick abused him for many years.
That man, James Grein, went public in December.