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Pope invites cardinals implicated in sex abuse cover-up to Youth Synod

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

VATICAN CITY, September 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Several bishops accused by Archbishop Viganò of having protected clerical sexual abusers of the young will be at October’s Synod on Youth.

Although most of the bishops at the Synod will have been elected by their national bishops’ conference as their representatives, some of them will be there at Pope Francis’s special invitation. These include Cardinals Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey and Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, both of whom were mentioned in Viganò’s testimony. Viganò, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., wrote that they were both recommended to Pope Francis for promotion by Cardinals Theodore McCarrick, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, and Donald Wuerl.

McCarrick has since resigned from the College of Cardinals following a “credible allegation” that he sexually abused a teenage boy in New York. Former priests and seminarians then came forward saying McCarrick had harassed them for years. His predation was apparently an open secret amongst Church leadership for years, yet he still was able to climb the ecclesial ladder.  Maradiaga has been implicated in a homosexual scandal in a seminary in his native Honduras. Wuerl, in response to widespread criticism of his handling of clerical sex abuse cases in Pennsylvania, has been discussing his resignation as Archbishop of Washington with Pope Francis.  

Others mentioned in the Vatican whistleblower’s testimony, like Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, will be part of the Synod by virtue of their current posts. Farrell, who is a close friend McCarrick’s, has repeatedly denied being informed of the ex-cardinal’s sexual predation on vulnerable young men. Farrell and McCarrick lived together for six years.

Other papal appointees include Cardinals Reinhard Marx of Munich, currently under fire for a perceived mishandling of the German Church’s clerical sexual abuse crisis, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the revamped Pontifical Academy for Life, whom Viganò named as a member of the Vatican’s “homosexual current in favor of subverting Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.”

Paglia famously commissioned a homoerotic mural in which he is featured. Marx has been part of the push to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.

The American bishops appointed by their own Bishops’ Conference to attend the Youth Synod are less controversial: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles. Bishop Barron, formerly the rector of Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary, is known to millions of Catholics around the world for his books, films, and “Word on Fire” website. He has also suggested, sometimes in more nuanced ways than others, that hell is probably empty.

DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met with Pope Francis last week about the McCarrick debacle. Last week, the news that DiNardo is accused of mishandling a sex abuse case in his own diocese also emerged.

Gomez was also at the meeting with Pope Francis. The Vatican released a photo of the Pope and the U.S. prelates smiling at that meeting.

Besides the invited voting members, Pope Francis also named dozens of “collaborators” and “observers” to the Synod, including adult women and youngsters. Among the young people named as “observers” are two Canadians connected with Fr. Thomas Rosica’s “Salt + Light” television station, Emilie Callan and Julian Paparella. Callan is Salt + Light’s “official ambassador,” and Paparella has spent five summers as an intern at the television studio. Paparella has also served as an intern with the Vatican diplomatic corps in New York, thanks to Rosica’s patronage.  

In 2017 Salt + Light presented a “special televised event” about the upcoming Youth Synod, with Callan, Paparella, and Cardinal Kevin Farrell as hosts.  

Following the McCarrick scandal, Viganò’s testimony of cover-up at the highest levels in the Church, the grand jury report about decades of clerical sexual abuse and cover-up in Pennsylvania, some Catholics have called for the Youth Synod to be cancelled. Chief among them are Philadelphia’s Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.

This August, Chaput told an audience at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary that he had asked Pope Francis to cancel the Synod.

“I have written the Holy Father and called on him to cancel the upcoming synod on young people. Right now, the bishops would have absolutely no credibility in addressing this topic,” he said.

Nevertheless, the Youth Synod is still scheduled to take place in Vatican City between October 3 and 26.   

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