WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reaffirmed Monday the need for a “prompt and thorough examination” of questions surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.
The former apostolic nuncio’s 11-page written statement raised questions about the conduct and appointment of several U.S. cardinals and bishops, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, and Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, archbishop emeritus of Baltimore.
Archbishop Viganò claimed that Pope Francis knew about allegations against Archbishop McCarrick and reinstated him in ministry, after Benedict XVI had imposed sanctions on him.
“The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past,” wrote Cardinal DiNardo.
Archbishop Viganò’s letter “brings particular focus and urgency” to the need for an “examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement,” he continued.
Cardinal DiNardo’s statement renews the cardinal’s earlier invitation to the Vatican to proceed with an apostolic visitation to the United States “to seek the truth.”
The cardinal said that he is eagerly awaiting an audience with Pope Francis to “earn his support” for the U.S. bishops’ plans to “seek out these answers, make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier, and improve procedures for resolving complaints against bishops.”
Cardinal DiNardo apologized again to victims of clergy sexual abuse. He reaffirmed the positive steps that the Church in the United States has taken to implement a “zero-tolerance policy” since 2002, but continued:
“In other ways, we have failed you. This is especially true for adults being sexually harassed by those in positions of power, and for any abuse or harassment perpetrated by a bishop. We will do better.”
“The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church’s firm foundation is Jesus Christ,” he said. “The failures of men cannot diminish the light of the Gospel. Lord, by the help of your mercy, show us the way to salvation.”
Pope Francis, asked whether it was true that Archbishop Viganò had informed him in 2013 about Archbishop McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct with priests and seminarians, and if it was true Benedict XVI had previously imposed sanctions on the former cardinal, said he would have preferred to talk about his trip to Ireland, from which he was returning.
“I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested: Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment,” the Pope answered. “I will not say a single word on this.”