From Catholic News Service and staff reports

VATICAN CITY  -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and has ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" until a canonical trial examines accusations that he sexually abused minors.

The announcement came first from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a few minutes later from the Vatican press office.

The press office said July 28 that the previous evening Pope Francis had received Cardinal McCarrick's letter of "resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals."

"Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial," the Vatican statement said.

In a July 28 statement, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, said, "I thank the Holy Father for his leadership in taking this important step. It reflects the priority the Holy Father places on the need for protection and care for all our people and the way failures in this area affect the life of the Church in the United States."

In late June, Cardinal McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent.

In the weeks that followed the announcement, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Cardinal McCarrick and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had.

Cardinal McCarrick was the founding bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, and the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark before going on to lead the Archdiocese of Washington.   He was raised to the cardinalate in 2001, and retired as the cardinal archbishop of Washington in 2006.