U.S. Bishops Meet with Pope Francis to Discuss Abuse Crisis

This morning at the Vatican, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop Jose Gomez, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, and Msgr. Brian Bransfield met with Pope Francis to discuss the ‘moral catastrophe’ of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Cardinal DiNardo serves as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, while Archbishop Gomez serves as the Vice President, and Msgr. Bransfield serves as the General Secretary. Cardinal O’Malley serves as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Dr. Matthew Bunson, senior contributor for EWTN, stopped by Morning Air® to give some insight into what will be discussed in the meeting, and what U.S. Catholics hope will come out of this meeting with the Holy Father.

On what the objective of the meeting was, Dr. Bunson said, “I think [Cardinal DiNardo] made it very clear that there are a couple of really clear objectives that they have in mind. The first is to craft a plan going forward for how we are going to investigate everything surrounding former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. And from that, how we are going to move forward in improving our handling of the clergy sexual abuse cases. But also dealing with the question that has emerged out of that, and that is the accountability of bishops, which I think rests at the heart of the McCarrick scandal.”

Many Catholics are hoping that in addition to answers regarding the McCarrick scandal, there will be answers to the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano in an 11-page testimony he released more than two weeks ago.

“That is another aspect of this whole situation, which has added a layer of complexity to it,” Bunson said. “What is the Holy See going to do to investigate the allegations, which are pretty significant, in Archbishop Vigano’s letter? And doing it in a way that is transparent and comprehensive. I think Cardinal DiNardo is aware of it, and certainly the Holy See is aware of it, based on the fact that just a few days ago they issued a statement that there would, in fact, be an investigation and some kind of public statement regarding the allegations in the near future.”

Bunson pointed out the importance of this meeting, as many of the recent scandals involve abuse and/or cover-up by bishops. The Holy Father is the only one with the authority to investigate and discipline bishops, and is in the greatest position to lead a reform and purification of the Church.

“The Holy Father has to lead in this,” Bunson said. “He is the only one who can truly deal with the deeper questions that have emerged as a result of the McCarrick scandal. This was a member of the College of Cardinals. The Holy See has to lead the way in this. That is the way it has always been done historically, but also the way we have to do this spiritually for the Church. The pope has to lead us in a process of authentic reform and renewal if it’s going to be effective and truly lasting.”

Following the meeting with Pope Francis this morning, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo issued the following statement:

“We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States – how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.

As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God’s mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds. We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps.”

Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Matthew Bunson below, and stay tuned to Relevant Radio® for ongoing coverage of the Vatican’s response to the sexual abuse crisis.

Morning Air can be heard weekdays from 6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Eastern/3:00 – 6:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.