The leaders of the US bishops’ conference had a “lengthy, fruitful and good exchange” with Pope Francis during their meeting today, but have not mentioned any details about what was discussed or whether any concrete measures were taken or promised.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met the Pope at the Vatican along with Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston – who also serves as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors – Conference Vice-President Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, and Secretary General Mgr Brian Bransfield, General Secretary of the conference.
The bishops said in a statement that they share with the Pope how the Church in the US has been “lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse”. “He listened very deeply from the heart,” they added.
“We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together, identifying the most effective next steps,” the statement continued.
Cardinal DiNardo originally announced that he was requesting a meeting with Pope Francis last month. The request followed the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse cases in six Pennsylvania dioceses and the announcement of credible allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington.
Two dioceses also had announced allegations of inappropriate contact between Archbishop McCarrick and seminarians, resulting in settlements totalling more than $100,000.
Before today’s meeting, the US bishops had specifically requested that the Vatican conduct an apostolic visitation into questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick.
CNS contributed to this report