American bishops respond to claims made in Archbishop Vigano's letter

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., prays as he concelebrates Mass during the 2017 Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, Fla. In an Aug. 27 statement Cardinal Tobin and the Archdiocese of Newark expressed shock, sadness and consternation at the wide-ranging allegations published by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former apostolic nuncio to the United States. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Several American bishops responded quickly upon hearing of the charges leveled by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, that church leaders -- including Pope Francis -- had been told years ago of the abuse allegations lodged against retired Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

Among those who responded were prelates who were named by Archbishop Vigano in his letter, published Aug. 26.

Cardinal Blase N. Cupich of Chicago, said he considered "astonishing" one sentence in the archbishop's 7,000-word document, which said: "The appointments of Blase Cupich to Chicago and (Cardinal) Joseph W. Tobin to Newark were orchestrated by McCarrick, (Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez) Maradiaga (of Tegucigalpa, Honduras) and (Cardinal Donald W.) Wuerl (of Washington), united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of cover-up of abuses by the other two. Their names were not among those presented by the nunciature for Chicago and Newark."

"The only substantial conversation I have ever had about my appointment to Chicago with the former nuncio was on Sept. 11, 2014, when he called to inform me of the appointment. The former nuncio started the conversation by saying: 'I call with news of great joy. The Holy Father has appointed you the archbishop of Chicago.' He then congratulated me upon hearing of my acceptance," Cardinal Cupich said in an Aug. 26 statement.

"Moreover, the former nuncio personally participated in my installation ceremony in Chicago in November 2014 and personally presided at the imposition of the pallium the following summer, and on both occasions offered only supportive remarks and congratulations," Cardinal Cupich said.

Cardinal Tobin, in a separate statement, said, "The factual errors, innuendo and fearful ideology of the 'testimony' serve to strengthen our conviction to move ahead resolutely in protecting the young and vulnerable from any sort of abuse, while guaranteeing a safe and respectful environment where all are welcome and breaking down the structures and cultures that enable abuse."

He added, "Together with Pope Francis, we are confident that scrutiny of the claims of the former nuncio will help to establish the truth."

"The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano brings particular focus and urgency," said an Aug. 27 statement by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "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."

Cardinal DiNardo added, "I am eager for an audience with the Holy Father to earn his support for our plan of action. That plan includes more detailed proposals to: seek out these answers, make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier, and improve procedures for resolving complaints against bishops."

A statement from the Archdiocese of Washington said Cardinal Wuerl -- who himself is facing calls to resign over his actions as bishop of Pittsburgh, which was scrutinized in a Pennsylvania grand jury report covering 70 years of abuse in six dioceses in the state -- "has indicated that during his entire tenure as Archbishop of Washington no one has come forward to say to him, 'Cardinal McCarrick abused me' or made any other like claim.

The Aug. 27 statement added, "The only ground for Cardinal Wuerl to challenge the ministry of Archbishop McCarrick would have been information from Archbishop Vigano or other communications from the Holy See. Such information was never provided."

Archbishop Vigano also has had to respond to charges that he covered up an investigation of abuse claims against now-retired Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who was accused of abuse of seminarians and, according to one affidavit, that he had had an affair with a member of the Swiss Guard before becoming a bishop.

"Accusations alleging that I ordered the two auxiliary bishops of Minneapolis to close the investigation into the life of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt are false," Archbishop Vigano said in a statement issued Aug. 26, a day after his original statement.

"I never told anyone that Greene Espel (a law firm conducting the investigation) should stop the inquiry, and I never ordered any document to be destroyed. Any statement to the contrary is false, he added.

"However, I did instruct one of the auxiliary bishops, Lee A. Piche, to remove from the computer and the archdiocesan archives the letter falsely asserting that I had suggested the investigation be halted. I insisted on this not only to protect my name, but also that of the nunciature and the Holy Father who would be unnecessarily harmed by having a false statement used against the church."

The memo was written in July 2016 by Father Dan Griffith, then the archdiocese's delegate for the protection of minors. "On Jan. 28, 2017," Archbishop Vigano said, "I wrote to both Archbishop (Christophe) Pierre (his successor as nuncio) and Archbishop (Bernard C.) Hebda (who had succeeded Archbishop Nienstedt), asking them to publicly correct the Griffith memorandum. In spite of repeated emails and phone calls, I never heard back from them."

Archbishop Vigano's original letter "is another daunting challenge to our confidence in the reliability of the church's leadership, during a summer of devastating news regarding clergy sexual abuse and infidelity," said an Aug. 27 statement from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, who was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Detroit jointly with Archbishop Nienstedt in 1996.

"We have nothing to fear in facing squarely the allegations made by Archbishop Vigano. I join with the priests and people of the Archdiocese of Detroit in praying for the triumph of truth and transparency -- and praying that it comes quickly," Archbishop Vigneron said. "Whether the archbishop's claims are confirmed or proved to be unfounded, the truth which comes to light will show us the sure path to the purification and reform of the church."

"Having renewed my expression of respect and filial affection for the Holy Father, I must add that during his tenure as our apostolic nuncio, I came to know Archbishop Vigano both professionally and personally, and I remain deeply convinced of his honesty, loyalty to and love for the church, and impeccable integrity," said an Aug. 27 statement from Bishop Robert M. Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin.

"In fact, Archbishop Vigano has offered a number of concrete, real allegations in his recent document, giving names, dates, places, and the location of supporting documentation -- either at the Secretariat of State or at the apostolic nunciature," Bishop Morlino added. "Thus, the criteria for credible allegations are more than fulfilled, and an investigation, according to proper canonical procedures, is certainly in order."

"Obviously this is a time of great crisis for our church, and we pray that it will be an occasion for complete repentance and purification," said Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu in an Aug. 27 statement.

"While this causes much anger and disillusionment to all of us, I ask you to be extremely careful not to allow Satan to achieve his desire of dividing and destroying the Catholic Church, which always remains the beloved bride of Christ," Bishop Silva added. "Be strong in your faith, and share that faith in Jesus Christ with others, because he is the way, the truth, and the fife."

Saying he has known Archbishop Vigano for 39 years, "I have always known and respected him as a man of truthfulness, faith and integrity," said an Aug. 27 statement from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix.

"For this reason, I ask that Archbishop Vigano's testimony be taken seriously by all, and that every claim that he makes be investigated thoroughly. Many innocent people have been seriously harmed by clerics like Archbishop McCarrick; whoever has covered up these shameful acts must be brought to the light of day."

"In recent weeks ideological warriors within the church on both sides of the spectrum have utilized the tragedy of victims of abuse to promote their goals. The dedication to comprehensive truth has been subordinated to selective targeting of enemies and tendentious distortions of the truth," said a statement from Bishop Robert E. McElroy of San Diego.

"Archbishop Vigano's statement constitutes just such a distortion. It is not an attempt to comprehensively convey the truth," Bishop McElroy added. "In its ideologically driven selection of bishops who are attacked, in its clear efforts to settle old personal scores, in its omission of any reference to Archbishop Vigano's own massive personal participation in the covering up of sexual abuse by bishops, and most profoundly in its hatred for Pope Francis and all that he has taught, Archbishop Vigano consistently subordinates the pursuit of comprehensive truth to partisanship, division and distortion."

"Let us be clear that they are still allegations, but as your shepherd I find them to be credible," said a statement by Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas. "Using this standard the response must be a thorough investigation, similar to those conducted any time allegations are deemed to be credible.

"I do not have the authority to launch such an investigation but I will lend my voice in whatever way necessary to call for this investigation and urge that its findings demand accountability of all found to be culpable even at the highest levels of the church," Bishop Strickland added. He directed all priests in his diocese to include his notice in Aug. 26 Masses and to post it on their websites and other social media "immediately."

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore voiced his support for Cardinal DiNardo's statement. "Pope Francis has demonstrated his leadership on the issue of abuse in the church by holding bishops accountable and by extending pastoral love and care for survivors of abuse," he said.

"On behalf of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, I renew my prayerful solidarity with our Holy Father and rededicate my own episcopal ministry to advancing those efforts which seek to ensure ours is a safe and holy church of God."

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, in a statement Aug. 28, took note of how Pope Francis responded to a reporter's question on Archbishop Vigano's letter during the flight back to Rome from the World Meeting of Families in Ireland: "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 said. "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, Pope Francis, Vatican officials and the current apostolic nuncio should make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when."

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...

Leaked German report shows 3,700 cases of abuse of minors in 68 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A 350-page document leaked to German media and published Sept. 12 documents nearly 3,700 cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by ...

Pope accepts resignation of Brazilian bishop arrested for embezzlement

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Brazilian bishop who was arrested and charged with embezzling thousands of dollars in ...

Love breaks chains of slavery to sin, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only true love for God and neighbor can destroy the chains of greed, lust, anger and envy that enslave humankind, Pope Francis said. ...

Washington cardinal to meet with pope to discuss resignation

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington has told the priests of the archdiocese that he will meet soon with Pope Francis to request ...

Pope to convene world meeting on abuse prevention with bishops' leaders

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention ...

Supreme Court petition next step in effort to stop natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Pennsylvania religious congregation planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether their religious freedom rights ...