BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – News Monday that the Vatican had directed the U.S. bishops to put off consideration of measures to address clerical sexual abuse served to further ignite anger among Catholics over the hierarchy’s handling of the abuse crisis.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo announced as president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference Monday morning that he’d received direction from the Holy See late Sunday that the USCCB was to delay voting on two measures at its annual fall meeting that would foster accountability in the sex abuse scandal in the U.S. Church.
The bishops are meeting for their Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, MD, November 12-14.
The meeting has been the object of heightened focus, as the first time the full body of U.S. bishops would be addressing the wave of sexual abuse developments in the last several months.
DiNardo told the bishops assembly that “at the insistence of the Holy See,” the bishops would not be taking a vote on the two items in lieu of waiting for the February 2019 meeting called by the Pope with the heads of bishops' conferences worldwide to discuss the abuse crisis.
DiNardo and the U.S. Bishops Conference had promised action, but were shut down in a request for Pope Francis to intervene, and decided to proceed how they could within the scope of their authority.
The two measures were part of the action plan from the USCCB Administrative Committee and dealt with standards of accountability for bishops and establishment of a special commission for receiving complaints against bishops.
The halting of the USCCB’s plans, again, at the apparent hand of the Pope, is being read by some as calculated and a further example of abuse cover-up.
“Make no mistake, the Vatican squashed the USCCB statement and investigation, even with its horrible terrible optics, because they know the alternative is worse,” the Creative Minority Report blog said on Twitter. “They can't let the truth come out. This is a cover-up. This is THE cover-up.”
American Papist’s Thomas Peters called the move an ambush and questioned how much notice the American bishops had.
“How much warning did the pope give before he ambushed the US bishops with this order?” Peters said, subsequently tweeting, “So much for empowering local bishops conferences ... if you’re trying to root out episcopal corruption.”
“The Vatican does not want a serious investigation into the sex abuse scandal, Catholic World News Editor and founder Phillip Lawler, posited bluntly.
“The American bishops (finally) want a serious investigation of the abuse scandal. The Vatican doesn't,” he stated. “What does that tell you? More pressure needed on Rome; more assertiveness needed from US bishops.”
Lawler’s wife, author and blogger Leila Lawler, quipped about the double standard between Rome allowing different bishops’ conferences worldwide to implement Amoris Laetitia as they see fit and the Holy See’s move to stop the USCCB votes on its own abuse measures.
“Since Amoris Laetitia, each conference is on its own,” Lawler said. “Let's get this straight. Doctrinal matters that have a direct impact on Christian living will be handled locally. But useless publicity matters affecting Peter's Pence will be handled by the Pope. HASHTAG SYNODALITY.”
American Conservative columnist Rod Dreher, who has been reporting on the abuse scandal since its early days, pointed out another double standard related to the Francis pontificate and the abuse scandal.
“Interesting to consider that Pope Francis thinks it's fine for the Chinese communist government to pick Catholic bishops,” Dreher said, but won't let the US Catholic bishops set sex-abuse accountability standards for themselves.”
Pastor for the Archdiocese of Washington and columnist Father Kevin Cusick said the Vatican directive for the US Bishops to hold off voting on the sexual abuse measures equated to the Pope imposing inaction.
“With one fell swoop Pope Francis has turned @USCCB Fall 2018 annual meeting into a non-story and colossal waste of laity dollars with his demand they essentially continue his program of non-response and inaction,” Cusick said.
English journalist Deacon Nick Donnelly noted on Twitter how Francis-appointee Chicago Blasé Cupich was interestingly ready with a statement within an hour of the announcement on the Holy See’s directive, that also detailed Cupich’s conduct on the assembly floor upon the announcement being made.
Before DiNardo had even completed his remarks on the matter, Cupich took to a mic outside of open discussion time, praised the Pope’s handling of the abuse crisis, recommended the bishops' talks on the two measures continue and a non-binding vote be held to determine the position of the Conference going into the February meeting of episcopal leaders in Rome.
“Surprise surprise,” Donnelly said, sharing the statement in a tweet.
“@CardinalBCupich had a prepared statement ready for the shock announcement on the floor of the @usccb Baltimore conference,” Donnelly stated. “Everybody else was surprised but not him. .@CardinalBCupich is the de facto president of the @usccb.”
In a reference to one component of the McCarrick allegations, blogger Pat Archbold said on Facebook, “The @usccb got invited to the beach house for the weekend and they just found out there is only one bed.”LifeSiteNews is continuing to follow the US Bishops meeting and related developments on the ground in Baltimore this week.