Photo: Pope Francis greets Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, before a private audience Sept. 13 at the Vatican.
VATICAN CITY — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Monday he welcomes the Vatican’s announcement of a further investigation into files on disgraced Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, praising the Pope’s steps to end sexual assault.
“On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of Oct. 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston, said.
Cardinal DiNardo’s Oct. 7 statement was a response to the Vatican’s announcement that it would review its files pertaining to allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Archbishop McCarrick, who has been accused in recent months of serially sexually abusing two teenage boys, and of sexually coercing and assaulting priests and seminarians during decades of ministry as a bishop.
The Archdiocese of New York has already conducted a formal investigation into one allegation that Archbishop McCarrick serially sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, and announced in June that the allegation had been found credible.
The Vatican said that Pope Francis has decided to combine the information from that investigation “with a further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick.”
“The Holy Father’s ‘pressing invitation to unite forces to fight the grave scourge of abuse within the Church and beyond’ has been and will continue to be diligently accepted by the bishops of the United States,” Cardinal DiNardo said.
He stated that the truth is what will ensure the “terrible sins of the past are not repeated” and said the courage of abuse survivors in bringing sexual abuse to light must be matched by the courage of pastors “to respond in justice.”
“Pope Francis echoes the call of Christ to be with survivors in their time of need. Let us respond simply. ‘Yes, Lord!’” he continued.
The statement also said the bishops offer their prayers and solidarity for the pope at this time and urged everyone in the Church, “particularly the bishops,” to reaffirm communion with Pope Francis, “who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church.”
“We unite in prayer and service with His Holiness as he leads the Church to meet our brothers and sisters in their suffering. With a pastor’s heart, the Holy Father calls us to a path of healing,” the statement concluded.
Cardinal DiNardo also met with Pope Francis and other Vatican offices Oct. 8, ahead of the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly next month.
USCCB Vice President Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles and Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB general secretary, were also present at that meeting. They were joined by the conference’s associate general secretary Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill.
The meeting took place just one month after Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop Gomez, Msgr. Bransfield, and Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston, met with Pope Francis to discuss the ongoing sexual abuse scandals in the Church in the U.S.