Pope Francis will receive some U.S. bishops at the Vatican on Thursday at noon, Vatican spokesman Burke confirmed. Accordingly, the delegation will be led by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.
Cardinal DiNardo had asked the pope for an audience in the affair involving ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was accused of abuse. Boston Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, chairman of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children, and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Vice President Jose Horacio Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles, are also expected to attend the meeting.
In addition, USCCB Secretary General Brian Bransfield is attending the audience with Pope Francis, according to Burke. O'Malley had only recently stressed that the ie of abuse must be a priority. Response to abuse crisis crucial to Catholic Church's credibility, he said.
Prere on Vatican increases
The former nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, had publicly called for Pope Francis' resignation in late August for allegedly knowing about sexual misconduct by the former Washington archbishop, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. So far, Francis has not commented directly on the matter; although an official statement from the Holy See is also expected, it has so far failed to materialize.
The current Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl (77), had also come under criticism in the wake of the abuse scandal in the U.S. In his letter, the cardinal addressed concerns from the faithful about whether he was the right person to lead the church through the abuse scandal. He said the decision on his future is an important aspect of allowing the Archdiocese of Washington to move forward.
Ignorance or misconceptions?
Wuerl is also accused of knowing about sexual misconduct by his predecessor Theodore McCarrick, 88, but concealing it. In addition, he allegedly did not crack down hard enough on sexual assaults by priests during his 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh and merely transferred clergy who committed child molestation to other locations. Wuerl has denied knowing about McCarrick's abuses, but also acknowledged "errors of judgment" and "inadequacies" in view of his tenure in Pittsburgh.
In a letter to the priests of his diocese, Cardinal Wuerl has now addressed a possible withdrawal. He will soon speak with Pope Francis about his future, the letter said, quoted by local media Tuesday (local time). It remained unclear whether Wuerl will ask the pope to accept his resignation, submitted three years ago when he reached the age of 75. Pope can refuse to resign as required by canon law and extend term of office.
US bishops' conference demands clarification
U.S. bishops' conference continues to press Vatican for full explanation. The cover-up allegations by former U.S. nuncio Archbishop Vigano demanded conclusive answers based on evidence, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo had said shortly after the allegations came to light in late August.