Francis was subsequently implicated in the cover-up of Theodore McCarrick, the onetime powerful American cardinal who just last week was defrocked for sexually abusing minors as well as adults.
"No bishop, no matter how influential, is above the law of the Church", Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the bishops conference, said in a statement.
He has previously denied the allegations, saying he has "absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse".
"The imposition on former Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of the penalty of his dismissal from the clerical state, thus prohibiting him any type of priestly ministry, underscores the gravity of his actions".
Leaders of the Catholic church in the US and here in our area stand by the pope's decision.
Along with claims he abused minors, the former priest and cardinal has also been the subject to allegations of sexual misconduct against seminarians including asking them to share his bed.
He said an independent forensic agency had investigated the allegations. Coburn also declined to say if McCarrick was still residing at the Kansas friary where he had moved to when Francis ordered him to live in penance and prayer while the investigation continued.
The Vatican on Wednesday provided details about the February 21-24 meeting, saying its main aim is to guarantee that bishops around the world "clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors".
"Now you will see that bishops are also treated like their priests", Martens told The New York Times.
By ordering McCarrick's "dismissal from the clerical state", the decision means that McCarrick loses all rights and duties associated with being a priest, can not present himself as a priest and is forbidden to celebrate the sacraments, except to grant absolution for sins to a person in imminent danger of death.
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In March 2015, Pope Francis allowed Keith O'Brien to keep the title of cardinal after the former Bishop of Edinburgh and former leader of the Catholic church in Scotland resigned over allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour towards priests in the 1980s.
The McCarrick ruling was announced ahead of next week's meeting at the Vatican between the heads of national Catholic Churches and Vatican officials, including Scicluna, on the global abuse crisis.
He said: "I ask prayers for this appointment, which I wanted as an act of strong pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge of our time".
McCarrick appealed the decision expelling him from the priesthood, but it was upheld and McCarrick was notified of the decision Friday.
The scandal swirling around McCarrick was particularly damning to the church's reputation because it apparently was an open secret in some church circles that he slept with adult seminarians.
December 27 - James Grein testifies in a canonical deposition by the Archdiocese of NY, saying he was serially sexually abused by McCarrick, beginning when he was 11 years old.
She says of the 101 accused bishops her group has tracked, McCarrick is only the seventh to be laicized.
The coming days no doubt will bring more questions about what the decision means in the historical spectrum of the Catholic Church at all levels.
Maciel's predatory crimes against children were ignored for decades by the Vatican bureaucracy.
The pope called the meeting in September at the suggestion of his closest advisers, and last month he told reporters it was necessary because some bishops still did not know fully the procedures to put in place to protect the young and how to administer cases of abuse.