Pope Francis Blames U.S. Bishops' 'Efforts to Deny or Conceal' Abuse Allegations for Church's 'Crisis of Credibility'
Pope Francis sent an eight-page letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week blaming "efforts made to deny or conceal" allegations of sexual abuse for the “crisis of credibility" the church is experiencing.
The letter came as U.S. bishops were beginning a weeklong retreat Wednesday near Chicago to confront the church's sexual abuse scandal. Organizers of the retreat said the prelates would focus on "prayer and spiritual reflection and not formulating policy." The confab will reportedly serve as a prelude to the summit of the world’s bishops being held at the Vatican next month to craft a comprehensive response to the clerical abuse crisis.
The retreat began a day after the Associated Press reported that the Vatican blocked U.S. bishops from taking measures to address the scandal at their conference last year, and as another scandal rocked the Vatican -- this one involving a 54-year-old Argentine bishop who landed a top administrative job at the Holy See after priests accused him of sexual abuse and other misconduct.
“We know that, given the seriousness of the situation, no response or approach seems adequate; nonetheless, we as pastors must have the ability, and above all the wisdom, to speak a word born of heartfelt, prayerful and collective listening to the Word of God and to the pain of our people," the pontiff wrote in his letter to the bishops.
"In recent years, the Church in the United States has been shaken by various scandals that have gravely affected its credibility," he continued. "The Church's credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts made to deny or conceal them. This has led to a growing sense of uncertainty, distrust and vulnerability among the faithful. As we know, the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore."
Not surprisingly, the pontiff left one key point out of his letter, as Lifesite news pointed out:
The Pope did not mention in his letter that it was his rehabilitation of now ex-Cardinal McCarrick that contributed in no small part to the current American crisis. A key catalyst of that crisis was Archbishop Viganò's testimony that the Pope lifted sanctions against the U.S. Cardinal despite knowing that he was an abuser of priests and seminarians.
Francis not only lifted the sanctions on the known serial abuser, but he also made McCarrick his most trusted adviser for relations with the Obama administration, according to Archbishop Carlo Viganò, who has been in hiding since the publication of his bombshell 11-page letter last August that accused the pope of covering up McCarrick's sexual crimes. The pontiff has also been credibly accused of covering up sexual abuse crimes from his days as a prelate in Argentina.