NEW YORK — The retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., has been removed from public ministry over allegations he sexually abused a teenager in New York more than 40 years ago.

The Catholic Church said Wednesday that the allegations against 87-year-old Cardinal Theodore McCarrick were found to be "credible" and that Pope Francis ordered his removal.

McCarrick said in a statement released through the church that he accepted the decision but is innocent and has no recollection of abusing anyone.

He was a priest in New York from 1958 until 1981 when he was named the founding Bishop of the Metuchen diocese. In 1986 was promoted to Archbishop of Newark and then served as archbishop in Washington from 2000 to 2006 before his mandatory retirement at the age of 75.

Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin in a statement said no accusations were made against McCarrick during his time as archbishop.

"No doubt many of you developed strong relationships with him and appreciate the impact of his service. Those feelings are likely hard to reconcile with the news of a credible and substantiated claim of abuse of a minor. While Cardinal McCarrick maintains his innocence and the canonical process continues, we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth," Tobin wrote.

Metuchen Bishop James Cheechio said in a statement he was "saddened" at hearing of the allegation. While no allegations had been made against McCarric in Metuchen, Cheechio said he has ordered his Diocese's records be checked.

"I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who has ever been victimized, and I ask anyone who has been abused by any clergy to report it directly to law enforcement," Cheechio said. "I want all victims to know that they are always in my prayers, and I ask everyone in the Diocese to join with me in praying that the Lord will bring them courage, healing and consolation."

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said the New York archdiocese knew of no other such allegations against McCarrick.

The Newark Archdiocese said it previously settled two allegations of sexual misconduct involving adults.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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