Top U.S. cardinal "welcomed" Pope Francis' steps to address sex abuse

Blanche Robertson
October 10, 2018

Cardinal DiNardo's October 7 statement was a response to the Vatican's announcement that it would review its files pertaining to allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Archbishop McCarrick, who has been accused in recent months of serially sexually abusing two teenage boys, and of sexually coercing and assaulting priests and seminarians during decades of ministry as a bishop.

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, before a private audience September 13 at the Vatican.

Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellett said Vigano's "unjustified attack" was a "political manoeuver without any real foundation" that aimed "to incriminate the pope".

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 Vatican was informed about the seminarian complaints as far back as 2000.

McCarrick resigned in July after an investigation found that he groped a teenage alter boy in the 1970s.

And, unlike what Archbishop Vigano claimed, there are no documents from Cardinal Ouellet's predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, saying that then-Cardinal McCarrick was ordered to live a life of withdrawal and silence under the threat of canonical penalties.

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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". In a document in April on holiness in the modern world, Francis mentioned the devil more than a dozen times.

The reason such measures were not taken then and were only taken in June by Pope Francis, Cardinal Ouellet said, was because there was not "sufficient proof of his presumed guilt".

Ouellet pointed out that the June 2013 meeting occurred as Francis was meeting with all his ambassadors for the first time and was gathering an "enormous quantity of verbal and written information" about the church.

A month after Pope Francis wrote an open letter to all Catholics regarding the "the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years" within the church, he has now laid the blame of that abuse at the feet of the devil itself.

"I strongly doubt that McCarrick concerned him to the degree you'd like to think, given he was an 82-year-old emeritus archbishop who had been out of a job for seven years", Ouellet wrote. As prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Ouellet meets weekly with Francis to discuss nominations, and presumably would have come to understand if McCarrick had Francis' ear.

He said he could not believe Archbishop Vigano had arrived at such a "monstrous" and "blasphemous" conclusion given that Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick's career rise in the previous decades. I understand that bitterness and delusions have been a part of your journey in service to the Holy See, but you can not conclude your priestly life in this way, in open and scandalous rebellion, which is inflicting a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ, whom you claim to serve better, thus aggravating the division and confusion in the People of God!

"He urged Archbishop Vigano to "Come out of hiding, repent for your revolt and return to better feelings towards the Holy Father instead of worsening hostility against him".

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