Council of Cardinals expresses 'full solidarity' with pope

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Members of Pope Francis’ international
Council of Cardinals expressed “full solidarity” with him in the
midst of questions about his handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and
said the Vatican is planning a response to allegations made against him by
a former nuncio.

Only six of the nine cardinals who are members of the
council participated in the meeting Sept. 10.

The six “expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis in
the face of what has happened in the last few weeks, aware that in the current
debate the Holy See is formulating possible and necessary clarifications,”
according to a statement released after the first day of what was expected to
be a three-day meeting.

The September session of the council was the first since
news broke in late June about an investigation finding credible sexual abuse
allegations against then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, since the release in
mid-August of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on how six dioceses handled
abuse allegations and since the publication in late August of a document by
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, alleging
that Pope Francis knew of Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual misconduct yet allowed
him to continue in active ministry.

Pope Francis formed the Council of Cardinals, often referred
to as the C9, shortly after his election in 2013 to advise him on the reform of
the Roman Curia and on church governance generally.

The statement Sept. 10 said that council members asked Pope
Francis for a reflection on “the work, structure and composition of the
council itself, also taking into account the advanced age of some of its

The six present for the September meeting were: Cardinals Pietro
Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa,
Honduras; Sean P. O’Malley of Boston; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard
Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the
commission governing Vatican City State.

The three who were absent were: 85-year-old Cardinal Francisco
Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing
questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo
Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October; and 77-year-old
Australian Cardinal George Pell, who currently is on trial in Australia on sex
abuse charges.

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