The Vatican Press Office has announced that Pope Francis will meet on Thursday with American bishops who are insisting upon a full investigation of questions surrounding the sex abuse case involving Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, including what the Vatican knew and when it became aware of his abuses.
“The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, will be received in audience along with Archbishop Jóse Horacio Gómez, the Vice-president of the Conference; and Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield, the General Secretary,” said the statement issued by Greg Burke, director of the Holy See’s Press Office.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who serves as the President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, will also take part in the meeting.
Since the details of McCarrick’s alleged crimes were released, Cardinal DiNardo has been asking for a full investigation of the matter.
In a statement issued on August 16, DiNardo outlined the plan of action he will be presenting to the Vatican as well as to the bishops during their annual meeting in November.
“The Executive Committee has established three goals: (1) an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; (2) an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and (3) advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity.”
DiNardo is insisting that any investigation of complaints against bishops be “free from bias or undue influence by a bishop” and include “substantial involvement of the laity.”
“Lay people bring expertise in areas of investigation, law enforcement, psychology, and other relevant disciplines, and their presence reinforces our commitment to the first criterion of independence.”
During Thursday’s meeting, the American bishops have promised that their first goal will be a full investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, including those raised in an 11-page statement by a former papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano which alleges that Pope Francis and other high-ranking officials at the Vatican knew about McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse and did nothing about it.
After Vigano’s statement was released, DiNardo said that he was “eager for an audience with the Holy Father” with the hopes that he can earn the pope’s support for their plan of action.
“These answers are necessary to prevent a recurrence, and so help to protect minors, seminarians, and others who are vulnerable in the future,” DiNardo said. “We will therefore invite the Vatican to conduct an Apostolic Visitation to address these questions, in concert with a group of predominantly lay people identified for their expertise by members of the National Review Board and empowered to act.”
Let us keep this critical meeting in our prayers!
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