But Ouellet said the "exhortation" to live a discreet life of prayer stopped short of binding canonical sanctions, precisely because the rumors lacked proof.
Cardinal Ouellet's letter was issued a day after Francis authorised a "thorough study" of all Vatican archives into how McCarrick rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church despite allegations he sexually preyed on seminarians and young priests.
The Holy Father's "pressing invitation to unite forces to fight the grave scourge of abuse within the Church and beyond" has been and will continue to be diligently accepted by the bishops of the United States.
Patrick Hornbeck, chair of the theology department at Fordham University in NY, said in September that many people were "looking to Pope Francis to show a degree of leadership on this matter that he hasn't yet shown".
In 2005, two New Jersey dioceses gave settlements to two men who said they had been sexually molested or harassed by McCarrick.
He accused Francis of knowing about sexual misconduct by a former US cardinal with male adult seminarians but not doing anything about it. But it wasn't until past year that it was informed of an accusation that he had molested a minor - a far more grave canonical crime than merely sleeping with adult seminarians.
Francis ordered McCarrick to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after American Church officials said as part of a separate investigation that allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.
Since then, another man has come forward saying McCarrick molested him when he was a young teenager and other men have said they were harassed by McCarrick as adult seminarians and young priests. However, as Pope Francis has said: "We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead" (Philadelphia, Sept. 27, 2015).
Francis had nothing to do with the promotion of McCarrick to New York, Metuchen, Newark or Washington.
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After stepping down as archbishop of Washington in 2006, McCarrick "had been strongly advised not to travel and not to appear in public, so as not to provoke additional rumours in his regard".
Cardinal Marc Ouellet wrote an open letter to Vigano, calling his claims "blasphemous" and telling the archbishop to "come out of your hiding place", according to the Associated Press.
McCarrick escaped being sanctioned because "at that time, unlike today, there was not sufficient proof of his alleged guilt". "He did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor".
It was the first time a cardinal has resigned in nearly a century.
Vigano released a second statement on September 29 saying that the Vatican has yet to respond to his accusations and that Francis has "compared me to the great accuser, Satan, who sows scandal and division in the Church - though without ever uttering my name".
"Out of respect for the victims and given the need for justice, the inquiry now underway in the United States and in the Roman Curia should provide a comprehensive and critical study of the procedures and the circumstances of this painful case in order to prevent something like it from ever happening in the future", Cardinal Ouellet said.
He said he understood that Archbishop Vigano might be bitter at the way his own career ended and his disagreement with Francis' policies.
Francis has refused to comment on the Vigano accusation.
"You can not end your priestly life in an open and scandalous rebellion that inflicts a painful wound" on the church and divides its people, he ended his letter.