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Archbishop Viganò urges US bishops to be ‘courageous shepherds’

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano alongside Pope Francis in 2015 (CNS)

The message came after the Vatican ordered the bishops to postpone a vote on plans to deal with the abuse crisis

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò sent a message to the bishops of the United States, who are holding a plenary assembly, encouraging them to act as courageous shepherds in the face of the sex abuse crisis.

“I am writing to remind you of the sacred mandate you were given on the day of your episcopal ordination: to lead the flock to Christ,” the emeritus Apostolic Nuncio to the US said on November 13.

“Meditate on Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Do not behave like frightened sheep, but as courageous shepherds. Do not be afraid of standing up and doing the right thing for the victims, for the faithful and for your own salvation. The Lord will render to every one of us according to our actions and omissions.”

“I am fasting and praying for you,” Archbishop Viganò concluded.

The former nuncio’s message came on the second day of the USCCB’s autumn general assembly, being held in Baltimore from November 12-14.

It was intended that the assembly would vote on proposals meant to form the basis for a response to the sexual abuse crisis facing the Church in the US.

But Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the conference, announced Monday morning that the Congregation for Bishops had directed that the vote not be held.

DiNardo said that the Holy See insisted that consideration of a code of conduct for bishops and a lay-led body to investigate bishops accused of misconduct be delayed until the conclusion of a special meeting called by Pope Francis for February.

Archbishop Viganò, who was nuncio to the US from 2011 to 2016, has issued a series of testimonies and letters in recent months.

In August, he wrote that Benedict XVI had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Viganò claimed that this was ignored by Francis, who pulled McCarrick back into public ministry and allowed him to become a “kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the United States.”