Published: Thu, October 11, 2018

Pope meets top US cardinal in shadow of abuse scandal

Pope meets top US cardinal in shadow of abuse scandal

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, conference vice president, also is in Rome for the synod, and the two USA leaders were expected to meet privately with Pope Francis Oct. 8 as questions continue over the handling of years of allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington.

The letter, addressed to Archbishop Vigano but identified as an open letter to the faithful, marked an extraordinary and decisive end to the official Vatican silence about the claims.

Cardinal Ouellet, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, said in his rebuttal that Archbishop Vigano had spoken untruths and was guilty of a "scandalous rebellion", Catholic News Service reports.

The cardinal said a review of his files showed there were no documents about any sanctions imposed on McCarrick and that it was "false" to suggest Francis had annulled any such measures.

The McCarrick scandal has thrown the United States and Vatican hierarchy into turmoil, given it was apparently an open secret in some USA church circles that he would invite seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed. Adult priests and seminarians also claimed that McCarrick harassed them.

US Catholics have been reeling in recent months from allegations that McCarrick, a former top American cardinal, sexually abused seminarians and an altar boy.

Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as a cardinal in July after a U.S. church investigation determined that an allegation that he groped a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible. Another man also claimed that McCarrick had molested him when the man was a teenager.

According to Vatican News, Ouellet wrote to Viganò: "Dear Pontifical Representative Emeritus, I tell you frankly that I believe it is incredible and unlikely from many points of view to accuse Pope Francis of having covered up after having full knowledge of the facts of this presumed sexual predator, and therefore of being an accomplice in the corruption rampant in the Church, to the point of considering him unfit to continue his reforms as the first Shepherd of the Church".

Pope Francis met the president of the US bishops' conference Monday as his supporters closed ranks over the pontiff's handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by a USA cardinal. Archbishop Vigano later explained that Pope Benedict issued the sanctions "privately" perhaps "due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey".

Cardinal DiNardo said he and all the USA bishops "offer our prayers and solidarity for the Holy Father".

In the letter, Vigano accused Francis of making McCarrick a "trusted counselor".

"The congregation's decision was inspired by prudence, and the letters from my predecessor and my own letters urged him, first through the apostolic nuncio, (Archbishop) Pietro Sambi, and then through you (Archbishop Viganò), to lead a life of prayer and penance for his own good and for the good of the church", Cardinal Ouellet wrote in an open letter to Archbishop Viganò.

Ouellet said the claims were "monstrous" and "blasphemous", telling Vigano in his letter, "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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