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Cardinal Wuerl proposes panel to investigate rumours against bishops

Cardinal Wuerl (right) concelebrates Mass with Cardinal McCarrick (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The US bishops’ conference should consider setting up a panel to investigate rumours against fellow bishops, Cardinal Donald Wuerl has suggested.

Speaking to National Catholic Reporter, the Archbishop of Washington also said the Vatican could ask one of its offices to investigate the panel’s findings

“If there were [rumours], and if people heard them, there needs to be some mechanism by which there can be at least an evaluation and review of them,” the cardinal said.

“I think it’s very important that we … as bishops enter into that world and say, ‘If there is an accumulation of rumours, ought not something be said?'”

“Would we have some sort of a panel, a board, of bishops … where we would take it upon ourselves, or a number of bishops would be deputed, to ask about those rumours?” he continued.

“It seems to me that’s one possibility, that there would be some way for the bishops, and that would mean working through our conference … to be able to address the question of sustained rumours.”

The panel could then pass its findings to the Vatican, who would take the decision on whether to act against the accused.

“We don’t pass judgment,” Wuerl said, referring to the bishops’ conference. “That has to go to Rome. So it seems to me there has to be some mechanism in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith or in the Congregation for Bishops to evaluate any concern that a conference of bishops might have about one of its members.”

His comments come as the US Church grapples with mounting allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal Wuerl’s predecessor in Washington.

Bishop Timothy Doherty of Lafayette said the bishops’ conference should considering hiring an outside investigator to find out “who knew what, and when” about McCarrick.

“There is evidence that various people made allegations and had reported them in the United States and in Rome. What has gone wrong? We deserve to find out,” he said.