The Vatican announced on Saturday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., from the College of Cardinals.
A statement from the Vatican said the pontiff received the letter of resignation a day earlier by the former archbishop.
Besides agreeing to McCarrick's stepping down as a cardinal, Francis ordered him to conduct "a life of prayer and penance" until sex abuse accusations against him are examined in a Catholic church trial.
Cardinal McCarrick, 88, was removed from his post on June 20 over a series of allegations of child abuse. He was accused of fondling a teenager over 40 years ago in New York City.
A man, who was 11 at the time of the first alleged instance of abuse, said a sexually abusive relationship continued for two more decades. McCarrick has denied the initial allegation.
The dioceses of Newark and Metuchen, New Jersey, simultaneously revealed that they had received three complaints of misconduct by McCarrick against adults and had settled two of them.
While most of the scandals involving pedophile clergy have involved rank-and-file priests, some cases involved bishops, and there are a few involving cardinals, including a current case in Australia of one of Pope Francis' closest advisers, Cardinal George Pell, who now faces a criminal trial in his homeland.
Bishops have been implicated in the sexual abuse scandals that have stained the Catholic church's reputation worldwide for decades now, but often for their roles in covering up for pedophile priests by shuffling them from parish to parish and keeping the faithful in the dark about the allegations about clergy whose pastoral duties often bring them into contact with minors.
Earlier this month, an Australia bishop became the most senior Roman Catholic cleric to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse. Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson was sentenced to 12 months in detention by an Australian court in a landmark case welcomed by some abuse survivors as a strong warning to institutions that fail to protect children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.