U.S. bishop speaks out on crisis: ‘even Pope Francis’ reputation has been sullied’
TULSA, Oklahoma, September 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — If there is corruption surrounding the pope — as is suggested by recent allegations from the former papal nuncio to the United States — then the papacy becomes the cause of “mistrust, division and scandal,” the retired bishop of Tulsa said.
Such a representation of the Chair of Peter goes against Christ’s intent, said Bishop Emeritus Edward Slattery, because the Lord intended for the office of His Vicar on earth to be the Catholic Church’s discernible source and foundation of unity.
“Allegations of the most vile corruption snake around the reputation of America's senior bishops and cardinals,” the bishop said in an August 30 statement on the Church’s sex abuse crisis, “and with Archbishop Viganò's allegations last weekend, even Pope Francis' reputation has been sullied.”
The sexual abuse allegations against disgraced Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and ongoing reports of Church hierarchy covering for McCarrick have tarnished the pope’s reputation, Bishop Slattery said. He called for Francis to immediately conduct a thorough and complete investigation into the allegations implicating his office in the cover-up.
“The time has come for His Holiness, Pope Francis, to initiate an immediate, full and exhaustive inquiry into the allegations surrounding his office and his relations with the highest ranking members of the American hierarchy,” said Bishop Slattery.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s explosive testimony released August 25 implicated Francis and several other senior prelates in covering for McCarrick’s alleged decades of sexual abuse of seminarians and priests. McCarrick is also accused of abusing at least two minors.
It also says that Francis knew of canonical sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI years ago but chose to rescind them.
A 12-year-old Vatican letter to a New York priest reported on by Catholic News Service last Friday confirmed the Holy See knew of the allegations against McCarrick in 2000.
Bishop Slattery said in his statement he wanted to add his name publicly to the call for an investigation so that “the Church may fearlessly identify the corruption within, and by prayer and penance root it out.”
“There is no other way,” the bishop said.
Slattery said the Catholic bishops of the United States had failed the faithful by placing “trust in policies and protocols,” but more specifically, in not including “the possibility that the bishops themselves could be the perpetrators” in their 2002 Dallas Charter.
The U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, established by the USCCB after the abuse scandal for broke in 2002, does not address abuse by clergy of individuals who have reached the age of majority, or sexual activity carried out by priests, non-consensual or not, with another man, nor does it address holding bishops accountable for abuse or covering it up.
Canonically, only the pope can sanction a bishop.
The McCarrick allegations have brought to light apparent rampant abuse of seminarians and young priests and accompanying systematic cover-up in the Church, as well as shining additional light on the role pederasty has played in the Church’s sex abuse crisis.
In his statement on the abuse crisis, Bishop Slattery also said the U.S. bishops had ultimately failed to call the faithful to draw closer to Christ.
“We failed precisely because we put our trust in policies rather than in calling the faithful - laity, clergy and hierarchy - to a more profound relationship with Christ,” he said. “It is deep conversion alone to Jesus that affords broken men and women the possibility of living chaste lives in a nurturing community where there is respect and dignity for all.”
USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said in an August 27 statement the questions raised in Viganò’s testimony “deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence.”
DiNardo had requested a papal audience earlier last month before the publication of the Vigano testimony to ask for an investigation into the McCarrick charges.
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