U.S. bishops tell pope abuse scandal 'lacerated' the church


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The leaders of the U.S. bishops’
conference said they shared with Pope Francis how the church in the United
States has been “lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse.”

“He listened very deeply from the heart,” said a
statement released after the meeting Sept. 13.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference
of Catholic Bishops, met the pope at the Vatican along with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley
of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors,
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, and Msgr.
J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference.

The USCCB statement described the encounter as “a
lengthy, fruitful and good exchange,” but did not enter into details about
what was discussed or whether any concrete measures were taken or promised.

“We look forward to actively
continuing our discernment together, identifying the most effective next
steps,” the statement said.

Cardinal DiNardo originally announced that he was requesting
a meeting with Pope Francis last Aug. 16. The request followed the release of
the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse cases in six Pennsylvania
dioceses and the announcement of credible allegations of child sexual abuse
committed by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop
of Washington. Two dioceses also had announced allegations of inappropriate
contact between Archbishop McCarrick and seminarians, resulting in settlements
totaling more than $100,000.

In his Aug. 16 statement, Cardinal DiNardo said that the
USCCB Executive Committee had established three goals: “an investigation
into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and
confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy
for more effective resolution of future complaints.”

The U.S. bishops specifically requested the Vatican to
conduct an apostolic visitation into questions surrounding Archbishop
McCarrick. Opening a new process for reporting complaints against bishops and
the more effective resolution of such complaints also would require the support
and involvement of the Vatican, since only the pope has the authority to
discipline or remove bishops.

Following allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that
Pope Benedict XVI had imposed sanctions on Archbishop McCarrick and that those
sanctions had been ignored by Pope Francis, Cardinal DiNardo issued another
statement Aug. 27 reiterating his call “for a prompt and thorough
examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have
been tolerated for so long.”

Archbishop Vigano’s statement “brings particular focus
and urgency to this examination,” the cardinal’s statement said. “The
questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on

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