By Julie Zauzmer
When Theodore McCarrick was defrocked on Saturday, becoming the first cardinal ever removed from the priesthood because of sexual abuse, he lost his right to the support he has received his entire adult life: housing and income provided by the Catholic Church.
But McCarrick, who is 88 and has been living in a secluded friary in Victoria, Kan., for several months while the Vatican considered the case against him, will be allowed to remain there until his permanent housing is finalized, church officials have said.
“There’s got to be basic sustenance. You can’t turn an almost-89-year-old out on the street,” said Susan Gibbs, who served as McCarrick’s spokeswoman when he was archbishop of Washington. She noted that the decision is now in part McCarrick’s own; for the first time since he entered the seminary and then served 60 years as a priest and bishop, he is not bound to go where the church tells him to go. “Technically, he could walk out the door right now. In the church, you make a promise of obedience. If you’re not a priest, you don’t have that anymore. But in his heart, he’s still there. He’s still a priest in his heart. That’s all I think he knows.”
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