US bishops continue to respond to Viganò testimony

Washington D.C., Aug 30, 2018 / 11:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Since Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler first responded Saturday to the former US nuncio’s testimony which alleged sex abuse cover-up by the pope and several other prelates, several other US prelates have joined him with statements and planned Masses of reparation.

In the testimony, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, wrote that Benedict XVI had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Viganò claimed that this was ignored by Francis, who pulled McCarrick back into public ministry and allowed him to become a “kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the United States.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said Aug. 29 that the former nuncio “served his mission with selfless dedication” and that he knew him to fulfill his Petrine mission “at great personal sacrifice and with absolutely no consideration given to furthering his ‘career’ – all of which speaks to his integrity and sincere love of the Church.”

“Moreover, while having no privileged information about the Archbishop McCarrick situation, from information I do have about a very few of the other statements Archbishop Viganò makes, I can confirm that they are true. His statements, therefore, must be taken seriously. To dismiss them lightly would continue a culture of denial and obfuscation.”

Bishop Emeritus Edward Slattery of Tulsa said that in the response to the sex abuse crisis of 2002, the US bishops failed “because we put our trust in policies rather than in calling the faithful – laity, clergy and hierarchy – to a more profound relationship with Christ. 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.”

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said Aug. 28 that Archbishop Viganò’s testimony “merits, indeed it demands deeper examination and verification of each of its claims.”

He said that while he lacks “personal knowledge or experience” of its details, “I have the deepest respect for Archbishop Viganó and his personal integrity. His claims, yet to be investigated or substantiated, confirm the urgency of a thorough investigation of Archbishop McCarrick’s advancement through the ecclesiastical ranks given his history of alleged abuse, involving seminarians and young people.”

The Oklahoma City archbishop said this moment “calls for a renewed commitment to vigilance, transparency and accountability from our shepherds and indeed for the whole Church. Only prayer, penance and deeper conversion will guide us through this dark period.”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois stated Archbishop Viganò “has revealed a set of facts and circumstances that are deeply troubling as they relate to the awareness, actions, and inactions at the very highest levels of the Church.”

He noted that Pope Francis responded to the former nuncio’s testimony by saying, “Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word on this.”

“Frankly, but with all due respect, that response is not adequate,” Bishop Paprocki wrote.

“Given the gravity of the content and implications of the former Nuncio’s statement, it is important for all the facts of this situation to be fully reviewed, vetted, and carefully considered.”

“Toward that end,” the Bishop of Springfield stated, “Pope Francis, Vatican officials and the current Apostolic Nuncio should make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when about Archbishop (formerly Cardinal) McCarrick and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised.”

He also noted his concurrence with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston’s call for “a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement.”

Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford also referred to the statement of the president of the US bishops’ conference, saying, “we all share” a “profound concern” over Archbishop McCarrick’s advancement and that “the truth has to be told. Once again I ask God to bring the truth to light and to bring healing and help to all victims of sexual abuse.”

He said history demonstrates “the tremendous storms, both from within and from without, that have threatened to overwhelm the Church.”

“In modern times perhaps we have been lulled into complacency about the power of evil.”

Archbishop Blair quoted St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians: “our struggle is not against enemies of flesh and flood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

The Connecticut archbishop said St. Augustine preached about “the scandal of bad shepherds,” warning against both “leaving the Church because of the scandal provoked by wicked shepherds … and putting one’s trust in good shepherds instead of Christ.”

“Please pray for strong faith in Christ and his promise,” Archbishop Blair stated. “And please pray for your bishops and priests … I join you in this prayer and I pledge to do my part as a Bishop to unmask whatever has led to our present anguish.”

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison stated Aug. 27 that he too was in solidarity with Cardinal DiNardo’s statement.

He went on to “confess my disappointment that in his remarks on the return flight from Dublin to Rome, the Holy Father chose a course of ‘no comment’.”

Bishop Morlino stated that he is “deeply convinced of [Archbishop Viganò’s] honesty, loyalty to and love for the Church, and impeccable integrity.” He added that the former nuncio had “more than fulfilled” the criteria for credible allegations, “and an investigation, according to proper canonical procedures, is certainly in order.”

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver wrote Aug. 30 that he supports an independent investigation of the former nuncio’s allegations, calling him “a man of deep faith and integrity.” He urged people to pray “for a deep faith” in Christ which “grows and deepens each day.”

Statements from several other bishops, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Cardinal DiNardo, and Bishop Strickland, have been previously covered by CNA.

A number of bishops in the US have also announced Masses of reparation or healing in the wake of the sex abuse crisis.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans said a Mass “for the healing of those who have been the victims of sexual abuse by clergy and also by bishops who have attempted to cover up the abuse.”

In his homily, Archbishop Aymond said that “it is time for us to repent. And I promise, as a bishop and your local bishop, your shepherd, I promise not only to pray but to fast. Some things can be driven out only by prayer and fasting.”

The Archdiocese of St. Louis has announced that Archbishop Robert Carlson will say a Mass of Reparation Sept. 7 at his cathedral.

Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland will observe a day of prayer and repentance Sept. 14, during which he will say Mass. He said anger over mishandled cases of sexual abuse of minors is justified, and that “I can think of nothing worse than this incomprehensible abuse and any attempt to cover it up. As your bishop, I am doing penance for the failure of some bishops to act appropriately to protect young people and who have failed in reflecting the holiness and integrity demanded by the Gospel.”

And in Connecticut, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport will lead a Holy Hour with a rosary, followed by a Mass of Reparation and Purification, Sept. 15. He has asked all the priests in his diocese to attend the Mass.

“During this time of trial, we must come together as a family of faith and beg the Lord for forgiveness and to offer reparation for the sins committed by priests, bishops and any member of the Church, especially the depraved sins against children and the vulnerable,” Bishop Caggiano wrote to his priests.

“It is also a time to ask God to heal those who have been wounded by sin, to turn our hearts away from anything that is evil and to renew our commitment to holiness.”

He invited all the faithful “to join me and accompany one another during this time of sadness and anger, and to strengthen one another in our Catholic faith,” and expressed hope that this will be a “first tangible step towards renewing confidence and trust in the Church for many of our faithful.”

Bishop Caggiano also instructed his priests to say the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel at the end of each Mass, before the recessional hymn, beginning Sept. 15.

“Christ has conquered sin and death, but we are still in the midst of a spiritual battle. For that reason, I would like the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel recited,” Bishop Caggiano wrote to his priests.

“I believe that the Church is facing a moment of crisis that demands honesty and repentance from the bishops and decisive action to ensure that these failures will never happen again.”

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