Stephen White: Some Action – Maybe – Starts Today

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By Stephen White, The Catholic Thing, Sept. 13, 2018

Given the almost daily revelations about the abuse crisis in America and around the world, TCT decided that we needed someone who can dedicate a regular column to following the many complicated developments currently underway – and especially help readers separate appearance from reality. Steve White, a longtime friend of this page and steeped in recent Church history, struck us as the ideal choice. His column today inaugurates what we expect will be a fair but incisive series that can help bishops, priest, laity – perhaps Rome itself – better understand a mortal threat to the credibility of the whole Church in our time. – Robert Royal

Stephen WhiteA delegation from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will meet with Pope Francis today in the Vatican. Leading the delegation will be Cardinal DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the USCCB. He will be joined by the conference vice-president, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston. Their objective is, on paper at least, straightforward: enlist the Holy Father’s support for their three-part plan to address the ongoing crisis in the American Church.

This might seem like an easy pitch, but the rapid escalation of this crisis has made things far more complicated than they might otherwise have been. If Pope Francis was cool toward the American episcopate before this summer, he surely hasn’t warmed since. With the publication of Archbishop Viganò’s testimony, Pope Francis, and certainly his advisors, seem convinced that a large part of this current outrage is an ideologically motivated attempt to cripple this pontificate.

Cardinal DiNardo’s statement as USCCB president set the benchmark for other bishops’ responses to the Viganò letter: “The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.” Such even-handedness was not the disavowal of Viganò that Rome (or certain American prelates named by Viganò) may have been hoping for.

But DiNardo’s statement was a clear message that he, and many of his fellow bishops, understand that what began as a re-emergence of the festering wound of clerical sexual abuse has metastasized into a full-scale crisis of confidence in the American episcopate…..continued….